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New jeans may fit like a glove, but that new look isn’t necessarily a hot trend. Worn, tattered jeans are all the rage, and companies are charging big bucks for jeans that look like they came from the recycle bin. Worn cuffs are especially trendy, and distressing your own jeans is a crafty way to bump up your fashion sense and pad your wallet.
Salt and Water
Salt water isn’t just for the fish; it’s a powerful agent in the war on new jeans. The salt eats away at strong denim fibers, softening and lightening the jeans. Fill a plastic tub or bucket with warm water, and pour in 4 cups of salt. Stir the salt until it dissolves, and drop the jean cuffs in the salty solution. Push the cuffs completely under water and leave the jeans to soak for a couple of days. Remove the cuffs from the salt water, wring out excess liquid, and let the jeans dry on the counter.
Stick a large can inside the cuffs for support, and scrub the denim with sandpaper. Look for a medium-grit paper, something in the 80 to 120 range, to gently scuff the denim without tearing completely through the fabric. Fold the sandpaper over your finger and rub it quickly back and forth along the cuff, sanding in a circular fashion around the can for even wear. The more you scrub the jeans, the softer and more frayed the cuffs become.
Put your scissors to work in the battle against new cuffs. Small rips and tears are super hot, and snipping the denim encourages it to tear naturally for a soft, frayed look. Lay the cuffs flat and press the tip of a pair of sharp scissors into the cuff. Make two or three evenly spaced half-inch cuts around the cuff and buff the edges with sandpaper. The threads along the edges of the cut will soften and fluff up for natural-looking cuff wear.
If you’re not ready to play carpenter your favorite jeans, increase their rotation in your wardrobe. The more often you wear your jeans, the faster the cuffs will soften and fray. Wash your jeans after each outing to speed up wear. Let your pants drag the ground, since contact with rough surfaces will break down rigid denim for well-worn cuffs.