Pretty much all the ripped jeans outfit ideas I’ve gotten have come from pop culture. I might be dating myself here, but I remember being a little kid and watching an episode of the seminal 1980s sitcom Family Ties during which flighty older sister Mallory (Justine Bateman) returns home from a shopping trip, pulls out a pristine pair of designer blue jeans, then takes a scissor from the drawer and starts hacking away, setting the tone for my future obsession with garments that look blatantly well-worn.
In the grungy 1990s, I saw people like Kurt Cobain, Janet Jackson, Christina Applegate, and the entire cast of Beverly Hills 90210 wearing variations of the ripped jeans outfit, usually in the form of perfectly distressed light-wash Levi’s with worn holes at the knees.
Things got crazy in the early 2000s, with stars no longer content rocking jeans with obedient knee tears, but rather aggressive slashes up and down the leg, often paired with a sliver of midriff and not one but two layered tank tops or a silk lace cami.
During the 2010s, the boyfriend jean made waves—slouchy denim that, as the name implies, looked as if it belonged to the person you’re sleeping with—many of which had rips in the knees, although denim trends were dictated largely during that half of the decade by new cuts, colors, and washes. Which brings us to now.
It appears the ripped jeans has come back around as evidenced by street style stars at Fashion Week, retailers from Zara and ASOS to Shopbop and Net-a-Porter. I’m personally interested in the new ways women are styling their holey denim, making it appropriate for weekends and evenings but also, in some cases, the office.
Keep clicking for a master class on how to wear ripped jeans that feel very 2020.