Walking around campus, I am amazed by the number of distressed jeans I see. These are jeans with rips across the knees, thighs and some with gaping holes from upper thigh to mid-calf. This winter, I have noticed women wearing distressed jeans even after a blizzard. Even when there is ice everywhere, I can spot at least a few women wearing ripped jeans in high heels.
First of all, I have to applaud the women who are die-hards when it comes to fashion. I would never wear a pair of ripped jeans during winter. I hate being cold. I will admit, I never wear heels — I demand durable shoes with traction. I am a woman with simplistic taste. I wear denim with real pockets all year-round and usually an old t-shirt. I am no fashion expert.
My style — or what little I have — is rooted firmly in rock, metal and punk. I was known for years to wear a fake leather jacket adorned with buttons, jeans and big black boots. Despite all this, what really baffles me is that women’s fashion often makes no sense. Wearing ripped jeans in the dead of winter, a.k.a freezing your butt off and wearing high heels in the ice and snow, makes no sense to me at all.
I believe clothes should be durable and long-lasting. For women, pants should have real pockets and buttons that actually button. I refuse to buy a pair of pants without pockets. To this day, I find myself furious when after looking through the women’s section, and I find myself often shopping in the men’s. With all the glitter and gaudy decorations, it seems to me that women’s clothing — jeans in particular — needs a serious reality check.
A History of Rebellion and Protest
The history of jeans is a long story of innovation, rebellion and revolution. It is not by chance that women can wear men’s clothing today with little backlash. All the way into the 1990’s women have struggled to gain rights to wear pants, especially at work. Almost 20 years ago, a controversial court case in Italy ruled that women cannot claim to be raped while wearing jeans because they are too difficult for an assailant to take off a victim.
Women’s relationship with clothing is complicated even today. It is still a controversial issue, especially in cases of rape and assault where what the victim was wearing is called into question. In Utah, there is an annual Slutwalk that protests the idea that women are responsible for the violence done to them because of what they wear.
Music and jeans go hand in hand. From the early days of rock ’n’ roll to today, denim is present when music history is being made. From folk to punk and everything else, jeans are a staple item for musicians. Altering jeans for style and statement makes them a versatile clothing item that can highlight or solidify one’s style. Adorned with pins and buttons or ripped by hand and cut are methods of personalizing jeans. Today, one can buy a pair already looking vintage or used.
What Distressed Jeans Symbolize Today
I have been an artist and musician since I about 13, and what I choose to wear comes directly from what has inspired me. My favorite bands wore classic looks of leather jackets and jeans. I remember defiling pairs of jeans in high school. I would rip my own or more proudly wear them to the point where they ripped from constant use. Today my style is toned down. I wear more color today than I ever have in my life, but what has remained with me is my love for durable denim.
Buying clothing that is purposely faded or worn has become a fad reflecting the desire for authenticity and individuality. Distressed jeans mass produced and worn reproduce a false belief in individualism. It is never truly accepted to personalize clothing or rip your own jeans to make a personal statement. Instead, we are fed by the fashion industry replications of what was once real.
Fashion and clothing are created as versatile costumes for people to wear in society, like wearing a variety of masks according to the parts being played. What I find interesting about women wearing distressed jeans and high heels is the rebellion has been diluted into a casual look simplified to accentuate sex appeal. This happens all the time, fashion takes a unique look and uses it to an infinite degree. What fashion does can be considered both good and bad to society and culture, but there is always room for social critique when it comes to trends like this one.
Women should wear what makes them feel good. Wear what you love, what gives you confidence. It doesn’t matter what I say about ripped up jeans and high heels. I wear what I wear because I am me. I will say wearing clothes that don’t keep you warm and shoes that do more damage than good in the winter should be reconsidered. You can die in the snow looking hot as hell, but at the end of the day you still froze.