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How to Get a Pair of Perfectly Frayed Jeans at Home

This DIY is street style set-approved.
Photo: Imaxtree

Photo: Imaxtree

In our latest column, "Ask a Fashionista," you can solicit our strongly held opinions on everything from how to wear a midi skirt without looking like a tree stump to whether a certain retail CEO should go ahead and resign already.

Usually, we take questions from readers for this column, but this week I'm answering my own question.

Q: I have been shopping around for a neatly frayed pair of jeans since I saw this street style photo last year, and I've had zero luck. Is this the type of thing you buy or DIY? If it's the latter, how can I do it at home?

A: Denim trends come and go so quickly that it's almost exhausting to keep up with them, but if there's one type of jean that's become a modern classic, it's the artfully destroyed pair. With a hole at the knee or a frayed hem, these have turned from a weekend-only uniform to a Fashion Week go-to for the street style set, often paired with crisp blouses, oversized sweaters and high heels (as seen on Yasmin Sewell above). 

While it's easy to buy ripped-up denim in a variety of washes and fits  — it's literally for sale on every e-commerce site — the crisp, cleanly cut frayed hem is a little more difficult to come across, and that's the look I have been hunting for. On account of this, I figure that a DIY project is the best bet, and after a bit of crowdsourcing, I've found that others agree.

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I've heard a number of different strategies during my search: A PR rep for a retailer that designs denim in-house told me that her team suggests simply undoing the stitching along the bottom hem, pulling a few strands out with your fingers to muss it up a bit and then throwing the jeans in the wash to get them looking just-so. Some Twitter pals told me to simply cut them straight across, and then throw them in the dryer for 15-20 minutes afterward to get the desired effect.

Both of these techniques sound easy enough, but before I get my hands dirty, I thought I should consult the Queen of DIY, Erica Domesek of P.S.: I Made This, who broke it down for me step by step. Here are her instructions:

— Make sure your jeans are clean and crisp. A good washing before a project is always recommended for a style like this. You will only need two tools: A pair of sharp fabric scissors and a seam ripper. (You may need to iron before cutting depending on how wrinkly they are).

— After your jeans are clean and ready to get a new look, mark where you would like to crop (usually 2 inches above ankle is good).

— Cut evenly across.

— Use the seam ripper to pull a few cotton fibers from the raw bottom. Pull sporadically to give a more natural look — even though this has been totally thought out and planned. Your jeans will continue to fray on their own as you wear. If the cotton threads get too messy, feel free to trim.

Now that I have an expert's blessing, I am going to give this method a try (on an old pair of jeans first, of course) before Fashion Week arrives next month. Wish me luck! And, if you decide to give your denim a frayed makeover, please do let us know how it turns out.