You spend good money on your jeans–and a good bit of your life in them. When they rip, it can feel like losing an old friend. But there are plenty of ways to mend them, and most take less than 15 minutes (or a $20 trip to the tailor).
If you’ve got a confident whipstitch–or 10 minutes to watch a YouTube tutorial–you can fold the bottoms up a few millimeters and simply rehem your pants. Not handy with a needle? A tailor can rehem jeans for a clean finish, and if they’re a little shorter, well, cropped is all the rage right now!
A loose or broken belt loop is a quick fix. First tack it back in place with a safety pin, then find some strong polyester thread in the same shade as the denim. Do a simple cross-stitch until it feels secure again, and double knot your thread on the inside of the jeans. You’ll feel like you could star in a Little House on the Prairie reboot.
If you want a shredded knee to look as close to new as possible, you’ll probably need a professional. But if you’re cool with a slightly more bohemian look, consider taking a few squares of your favorite fabric and patching the jeans with a needle and thread. The result doesn’t need to be perfect, just personal. And chances are you’ll love them even more when you’re done.
When it comes to washing your jeans, maybe just don’t? Many fashion designers and fabric experts recommend laundering your denim only once for every 10 wears, because every time you do, the fibers relax a little more, loosening the fit and losing some color. If you’re worried about hygiene, science says you don’t have to be. When a student at the University of Alberta wore jeans for 15 months without washing them, then tested his pants, the bacteria count was unexpectedly tiny. (As was our level of surprise that a college student didn’t visit the laundromat for over a year.) Keeping your favorite flares out of the wash has an eco-friendly benefit too: Besides using less water, you’ll help prevent the microplastics found in some materials from leaking into reservoirs. You save your pants, money, water, and wildlife!
You may have heard about the skinny jeans debate that raged online last year. Women of a certain age (read: college sophomore) took to TikTok to swear the style was “dead” (i.e. something only their moms would wear). National media outlets glommed on to the intergenerational controversy, as they tend to. Gen Z eventually declared victor, as it tends to. So where does that leave us? Still standing, defiantly, in our skinnies, which are neat, slimming, and comfortable.
“Why would you stop wearing something you love?” says designer Stacey Bendet, founder of the clothing company Alice & Olivia. “Jeans are a sophisticated staple, and if the slim cut works for you, keep it up.”
Instyle Senior fashion editor Samantha Sutton says her skinnies have become “more of a dressed-up bottom than something super casual,” great with a beautifully tailored jacket and a fab pair of shoes, or with an oversize oxford for a fresh, preppy riff. “Plus, as a petite person, I use them to create an unbroken line that elongates my legs.”
Even Snapchat’s global head of fashion and beauty, street-style savant Rajni Jacques, makes no apologies for her skinnies. “I like to wear them with a big sweatshirt to offset the tightness,” she says.
Other ways to make them feel current? A trench coat and rubber boots with high-waisted skinnies is your chic, pulled-together armor on a rainy day. (Imagine dragging a wet, wide-legged hem down the street as you run errands. Pass.) Or you can DIY a distressed crop: Measure one to three inches up from the hem and slice the jeans with your sharpest pair of scissors. Fray out the bottoms with your fingers or a piece of sandpaper. The result is a rock-and-roll look that goes well with black pumps and a polished blouse, a motorcycle jacket, or even a band tee from your Lilith Fair era. Because it is now cool to have had a Lilith Fair era! Take that, sophomores.
Surprise! The baggy jeans you rocked during your TLC-listening days are back, and this time, you don’t have to steal them from your big brother. Grab a pair cut for your body (we like the Abercrombie & Fitch ones here) or try your local vintage store. Add a fitted tee or tank for an adult upgrade (but, you know, a cool adult).
Surplus Rib Tank, $40; buckmason.com
Tamara Tanin Denim Shirt, $118; http://mavi.com
Curve Love High Rise 90s Relaxed Jeans, $89; abercrombie.com
U-link Earrings, $98; http://jenny-bird.com
Marge Loafers, $149; kennethcole.com
OK, hear us out. If you have a short torso, a lower rise is your secret BFF–and yes, you can wear it without looking like Britney in the ’90s (or now). Choose a wide leg for balance, and pair the jeans with a polished piece of knitwear that grazes the waist, so only a hint of skin shows. Prefer to go more modestly? Add a blazer and reach things on a shelf without your midsection making an appearance.
Sequin Boxy Shaker Vest, $176; autumncashmere.com
In Awe Stonewash Frayed Jeans, $89; mistressrocks.com
Levi’s SecondHand Ex-Boyfriend Jacket, $59; secondhandlevi.com
French Twist Ring, $78; katespade.com
Arlo Ring, $80; http://jenny-bird.com
Suede Classic XXI Women’s Sneakers, $70; http://us.puma.com
Cropped, straight-leg jeans are a favorite of Hollywood stylists because they go with anything. Try a statement heel or tuck them into knee-high boots (a stylish look that will keep you warm and dry in inclement weather). Get a pair with a bit of stretch, and they’ll be your go-to bottoms for early mornings, late nights, and everything in between.
Soft Focus Ruched Turtleneck, $50; onestopplus.com
High Rise Vintage Slim Jeans with Washwell, $70; gap.com
Havoc Vintage 1980s acid-wash fringe jacket, havoc.com
Analeah Crocodile Embossed Leather Boots, $238; http://Schutz-shoes.com
Why choose one wash when you can have three? Paneling and patchwork turn basic jeans into “wow” moments–which means you can throw on the same jacket and T-shirt you always wear and look like a totally new you.
J Crew vintage leather moto jacket, https://www.jcrew.com/
Fine Line Jeans, $59; http://revicedenim.com
Arlo Ring, $80; http://jenny-bird.com
Kam Leather Sneakers, $99; http://kennethcole.com
The beauty of jeans that “come up to here” is that they’re essentially two pairs in one. Go casual with a front-tucked sweater and ballet flats or add a great pair of heels and a button-up for what’s basically the informal look of the season. (Red lipstick optional, but very much encouraged.)
Mainstay Cotton Catalina Pop Over, $115; buckmason.com
Sheri Slim Jeans, $119; nydj.com
Nouveaux Puff Earrings, $118; jenny-bird.com
Emaline Heeled Sandals, $140; vionicshoes.com