A Distressing Fashion Trend

May 30, 2009 • Magazine

A Distressing Fashion Trend

A Distressing Fashion Trend

Sat, 2009-05-30 07:00

Bonnie J Brown

Tattered tights and shredded denim seem to be the clothing of choice for young celebrities today, everyone from Miley Cyrus to the Olsen twins are baring portions of their legs. While most of these young fashionistas show up on the worst dressed list or “what we’re they thinking” web posting, the holey jeans trend is sure to be a hot item for this summer. I have a friend who has been on the hunt for the perfect pair for at least a month already, the only problem is that the ones she’s longing for are over $200 and she just can’t justify the splurge.

Like all trends, why this fashion is emerging now could be for a number of reasons. It could be the cycle of fashions coming back in style. During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s wearing distressed clothing began on the streets and was an “anti-fashion” movement which was first worn by those who considered themselves punk. The trend spread and became main stream (or at least more popular) thanks to some punk and rock bands during this time (see Patti Smith). Another reason why this trend is so popular now among the young and wealthy could be that we’re in the midst of an economic recession and the rich don’t want to come across as having too much money. It wasn’t too long ago I read an article where people shopping along Rodeo Drive were requesting regular brown paper bags because they didn’t want to walk out carrying one with the designer logo, so the idea isn’t that far fetched.

The concept of taking an expensive pair of jeans and distressing them to the point where there is more negative space than material may seem like a ridiculous design idea, and if you’re talking to my father, a horrible waste. However, this fashion technique has been around much longer than just the past couple of decades. It was actually during Henry VIII’s reign that slashing clothing became all the rage among the wealthy. While Henry VII was considered stead and financially responsible (at least for a king) Henry VIII was the complete opposite. As was the fashion during the early to mid 1500’s, men and women wore many layers of clothing, the idea of slashing the outer garment was so the wearer would be able to show off the lining (which was also made of fine materials) by pulling it through the slits and creating a puff of fabric. Contrasting colors and materials were used to give the garments depth and an added richness. By slashing or scissoring their attire the nobility was able to not only show off all the many layers and the richness of their garments, but also show that they had so much money that they could cut their clothes and not be concerned with the waste.

While clothing may or may not be as political today as it was when this trend first emerged, people will certainly have an opinion on the trend of completely distressed clothing. And while I actually like the look, I choose to wear my thrift-store pair of 501’s (that I’ve had for over 10 years which have naturally distressed and are so beat-up they should be tossed) except now that holey jeans are all the rage.

Pictured: top to bottom:
Henry VIII 1500’s
Patti Smith 1970’s
Miley Cyrus 2009
Current/Elliot Jeans

See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40

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