Denim 101: Everything you ever needed to know about your jeans

Mythbusters style.

Ever since the enduring, hardy worker’s jean snuck into our everyday wardrobe, we’ve wondered… Should we listen to that pushy sales assistant and buy that pair so small, we can barely do the zipper up over our muffin tops? You know, in the hope that they’ll indeed ‘relax’ a magical three sizes up? 

With so many denim myths out there, it was time to settle the score once and for all. So we went to the experts. From tips and tricks, to breaking myths, here’s your guide to the world of the skinny, the flare and the crop, so you can drop it like it’s hot.

This is Denim 101, according to the experts. 


Myth: Putting your jeans in the freezer will clean them

“This doesn’t work. They may smell fresh when you take them out of the freezer, but once the fibres warm up, any smells come back. The best thing to do is give them a cold gentle wash inside out if heavily soiled, or air them to get rid of smells.” – Erin Budge, marketing at RES Denim

Myth: Your denim won’t fade

“Your denim WILL fade, no matter what the salesperson says. Denim has been dyed and treated, so any sort of washing will always affect this core base of colour. Denim is designed to fade, that’s the beauty of it!” – Elly Frangos, designer at Wrangler Australia

Myth: If denim is rigid, it will never be truly comfy

“We deliberately select heavier weights. They are robust, won’t tear and most importantly, they hold you in and keep their shape. They will wash and wear endlessly, actually becoming softer and better- fitting over time.” – Tegan Meade, designer at Rolla’s Jeans

“Nah, it can be soft, smooth and comfy. It’s all about applying love in the wash process and using good fabrics.” – Omer Farhy, designer at DENIM CoLAB

Myth: If you have big thighs, you can’t wear tight denim

“Anyone can wear jeans. You just need to know your body shape and what suits you. Look for jeans with at least 2% elastane or lycra, coupled with the correct fit. For example, tapered so there is more room in the thigh.” – Luke Morrison, designer at Abrand Jeans

Myth: Rigid denims are unflattering and not as good as stretch

“With wear, rigid denim will soften and mould to the body for the ultimate fit.” – Ana Vemic, designer at Neuw Denim


Trick: Wash your denim as little as possible

“Denim is a living fibre and is created to be hard- wearing. It doesn’t need to be washed. If you want your denim to stay dark, keep away from enzyme detergents, as they will enhance the effect that washing has on your denim.” – Elly Frangos, designer at Wrangler Australia

Trick: Pull out the cheese grater

“For quick and easy abrasions, use a cheese grater. Make sure you’re not in the jeans though!” – Erin Budge, marketing at RES Denim

Trick: Buy tight

“When buying rigid jeans, fitting them tight is key. They will soften with a few hours of wear and mould to the body for a more effortless, ‘body-skimming’ fit. You may have to hop up and down a few times to get them on, or undo the top button after lunch, but that’s fine! The pay-off is worth it when you have perfect-fitting, authentically-washed jeans.” – Tegan Meade, designer at Rolla’s Jeans

Trick: Fray your hems with water

“If you’re doing a raw hem yourself, cut with sharp scissors to the desired length. Then wet the cut edge with water and rub raw edges together to create
a lived-in, frayed hem.” – Ana Vemic, designer at Neuw Denim

Trick: Rip it yourself

“The best way to rip denim yourself ? First off, GO HARD AND HAVE FUN! For knee holes: cut horizontally, across the grain. Cut three or four strips spaced 75mm and 100mm apart. Wet the area with water, then grab above and below the hole, and vigorously rub the area together. Let it dry.

Extra tip: if it still needs more distressing around the hole, use sandpaper or a cheap shaving razor to further distress and fray the edges.” – Luke Morrison, designer at Abrand Jeans

Trick: Take a trip to the beach

“Dip your jeans in the ocean and then put them in the dryer to make them feel and look really vintage. Sandpaper is always a good way to rub some of the ‘newness’ off.” – Omer Farhy, designer at DENIM CoLAB

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 166. You can read it here.

Illustration by Twylamae who also made this Elaine Benes tee.

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