What can I say? I’m a distressed denim gal. There are times when I’ve thought I’d stray away from the rips and buy all non-distressed for my closet, but that lasts about two seconds and then I’m eyeing up more ripped jeans again. There’s just something cool, casual and badass about good ripped denim.
I’m seeing it everywhere right now, too. The Levi’s 501s in Luxor Street wash that both Shana and I got this spring were kinda the impetus I think, but my love of ripped jeans started many years ago. Now my taste has just gotten fancier, in some cases.
Good news, though. While you can find really high-end denim in rad washes with great distressing, you can also find a TON of great distressed denim for under $100 (I have these on order now and I adore these from BLANKNYC.)
Best Ripped & Distressed Jeans
Here’s a quick rundown of the best pairs of distressed jeans in every category — from best pair under $50 and curvy fit, to high-rise, black-wash, sustainable and plus-size. We’ll get into the goodies and the details (plus a few try-ons!) down below.
- Best Distressed Jeans With Stretch: Mother Superior The Tomcat Jeans
- Best Rigid Denim Distressed Jeans: Levi’s 501s in Luxor Street**
- Softest Distressed Jeans: L’Agence High Line High Rise
- Best Sustainable Distressed Jeans: AGOLDE ’90s Fit Mid Rise Loose Fit Jeans
- Best Curvy-Fit Distressed Jeans: Good American Good Legs Crop
- Best Wide-Leg Distressed Jeans: DL1961 Hepburn High Rise Wide Leg Jeans**
- Best Boyfriend Fit Distressed Jeans: Citizens of Humanity Emerson Slim Fit Boyfriend
- Best Distressed Jeans Under $50: American Eagle Slim ’90s Boyfriend Jean
- Best Plus-Size Distressed Jeans: Good American Good Waist High Waist Skinny
- Best Distressed Jeans Under $100: [BLANKNYC] Madison Crop
- Best Distressed Maternity Jeans: GAP Maternity Demi Panel Girlfriend Jeans
- Best High-Waist Distressed Jeans: L’Agence High Line High Rise
- Best Black-Wash Distressed Jeans: Levi’s 501 Ripped High Waist Skinny Jeans**
Yep! There’s something here for everyone, as long as you’re into distressing. Jean companies have just figured it out finally and gah they’re doing a really good job at it. I’ve tried DIY distressing, and it just looks like I ran into a bad accident with a pair of scissors instead of the chic, cool creation I’m always hoping for. I’ll just leave it to the professionals. Here are my favorite distressed jeans right now, in both light and darker washes, many of which I own myself. Note: items marked ** in the post are sustainable products.
There’s just nothing like a good pair of vintage, light-wash distressed jeans. When it gets to fall, I don’t want them too light — but perfectly faded is always what I’m after. It just adds that cool, casual vibe I’m typically looking for to pair with cozy sweaters, boots and feminine tops. I like a balance to my outfits and the ripped denim just does it for me.
01 | DL1961 Hepburn High Rise **: Can’t decide if I like this wash best or the black version below, but these are so rad. Great if you don’t prefer knee distressing but still want that cool vibe. Love how they’re styled here with the black mid-calf boots!
02 | L’Agence High Line High Rise: This is a pair I just got recently and adore! I have a pic of them below for you. TTS, stretchy, and the coolest distressing. SO worth the price in my opinion!
03 | AG Ex-Boyfriend Slim: This is on the border of light-wash, but these are great jeans. I love a slim straight leg, and AG just make some of the best washes and best jeans around. Team favs. I find them to run true to size unless it’s a rigid wash and you want to size up for slouch or zero break-in period.
04 | MOTHER Superior The Tomcat: These are a longtime favorite of the team, too. I mean, that distressing and wash from MOTHER denim is one we all love. They have a straight cut and are cropped, with 2% elastane for a bit of stretch. These always come up in my search for good distressing. MOTHER jeans are just a great investment. They always make the booty look good, too!
Best Distressed Light-Wash Jeans Under $100 (Bottom Row):
05 | Levi’s 501 Jeans in Luxor Street wash**: These are perhaps one of my favorite pairs of jeans ever. That’s saying a lot, friends. I went up one size from my usual, to a 28, and they have broken in beautifully. Shana adores these, too. They’re just so good. I have a pic below for you…haha, yes, with the vacuum.
06 | Levi’s 501 High Waist Skinny Jeans**: If you prefer a more fitted, super-sexy rigid skinny jean…THESE. They do take some breaking-in, but this wash is vintage perfection. Size up if you want a little bit slouchy broken-in look with wear. I think they would look awesome worn that way with heels, boots and cozy sweaters for date nights.
07 | Free People Good Time Relaxed Skinny Jeans: The wash and distressing on these is so, so good that I had to include. I haven’t tried them, but I like the idea of a relaxed skinny for a nice in-between fit…if you’re done with skinny but aren’t up for slouchy or straight leg. These are a rigid denim, FYI. Um, and the wash is called November Rain, so I had to, haha.
08 | We The Free Wren Solid Boyfriend Jeans: Ooh, these are new and I have them ordered because I couldn’t resist trying them. It says they have a slouchy fit to begin with, so I stuck true to size. We’ll see. Sometimes FP jeans are tricky, but these look so good! I’m so into the baggier jeans right now.
Four Distressed Light-Wash Jeans I Own & Love
These might be the holy grail of amazing distressed denim…yes, they have stretch! They have a beautiful light wash, rad hems and knee distressing — plus, they’re comfy. I mean, they tick all the boxes. I was only going to try them on for review and send them back. Welp, that didn’t work.
These are rigid denim, the perfect wash, and have beautiful distressing. They’re also not too long on meeeee. Rare. I typically have to cut off all the rad hem distressing. Not on these! (I’m 5’4″ btw) They fit true to size, but you’ll have to break them in. I’m in my regular size 27 here. Size up if you want a little more slouch and less of a break-in period.
Love love this wide leg. I sized up by two for a slouchy fit, and because rag & bone are always tight in the thighs for me. These are really soft and comfy if you do!
These are some of my absolute favorite jeans, especially for summer and fall. They’ve broken-in beautifully, and are just so rad and the perfect wash you expect from Levi’s. I went up a size in these and am happy with that. Even two sizes up would be cool for this style of distressing.
This is my first time trying Moussy, and I mean, gosh. This distressing is just so cool. For those of you who hate high rise, these may be for you. They’re definitely a mid-rise or even a bit low, and they’re rigid denim. They fit a little snug across the thighs, but these will break in with more wear, too. They’re a tapered fit, which I’m digging, and surprisingly I like them cuffed! You can find Moussy (they’re pricey) at eBay, too. I’ve linked them below and then you can filter by your size.
01 | l‘Agence High Line High-Rise Skinny Jeans: This is the same fit and distressing as the pair I have on above in the lighter wash, but just in a darker rinse. TTS and stretchy and amazing, these are a great pair if you want something with give.
02 | DL1961 Hepburn High Rise Wide Leg Jeans **: These are so cool with just some distressing at the hem and a lovely wide-leg fit. DL1961 are really impressive jeans AND sustainable!
03 | rag & bone Rosa Mid-Rise Boyfriend: I love this wash. It falls somewhere in the medium blue range. Rag & bone does gorgeous washes. I do find I have to size up by one or two, though due to them being narrow in the thighs. Rag & bone is one of Shana’s favorite brands.
04 | R13 Biker Boy Jeans: OK, OK. The price point on these is not ideal, BUT gah that wash and that distressing. I haven’t tried these but I always eye them on Shopbop. Perhaps I’ll order just to try sometime…SO COOL.
Best Distressed Dark-Wash Jeans Under $100 (Bottom Row)
05 | Topshop Dad Jeans: Love these jeans. These are the same I have in black, but in a great medium blue wash. Size up and go by the sizing in parentheses for Topshop rigid denim. I wear a 30 (fits like 28-29)
06 | Levi’s 501 Skinny Jeans** | at Levis.com: (color black mail) So, these are awesomely flattering. The wash is phenomenal (I’m always down for a washed black instead of a true black) and well, they’re Levi’s, so you know they’re good. These are rigid denim, and I went up a size so they’ll break in and be slightly slouchy. Wearing a 28×28 below. (Currently on sale!!)
07 | [BLANKNYC] Madison Crop in My Type: Stick TTS or perhaps even a size down, if you’re between sizes in this fit. These have stretch. Definitely more of a mid-rise jean, but I love them!
08 | [BLANKNYC] Madison Crop in Happy Hour: These are some of Em’s favorites, and they’re rigid denim, so she suggests sizing up a size.
Three Dark & Black-Wash Distressed Jeans I Adore
SO, I recently ordered these ‘just to try on.’ Haha yeah, I should have known. They’re Levi’s so of course, I wanted to keep them. The ONLY pair of Levi’s jeans I haven’t wound up keeping in the last few years were the ribcage, simply because they have such a high rise. In these skinnies I did size up one. They are rigid denim, and while I do have a pair of rigid skinnies in my regular size, I wanted these to eventually fit just a tiny bit looser. How are these so flattering always?? Magic. Jean magic. (OOH currently on sale!!)
You’ve seen these before, when I styled them up during the NSale and last week, two different ways. Love them. I sized up and followed the parentheses sizing on these, since Topshop runs small. I adore them cuffed as something different. These are going quickly, but a good alternative would be the AGOLDE pinch waist style, though they don’t have the distressing. They have a lovely wash though.
These are just fabulous jeans all around, if you’re looking for a darker wash. I love the tone of this wash, am obsessed with the ankle distressing and these are at a great price point. They are more mid-rise and that may be a plus or minus to you, but they’re comfy to wear. You could perhaps size down in this particular wash (it has stretch,) but I stuck true to size. Perfect for wearing with high tops and taller booties!
Shop Light-Wash Distressed Jeans
Shop Dark-Wash Distressed Jeans
Whew! Epic jeans post done! This is my very favorite thing to do. I hope it proves helpful in your distressed jean search. I know we were all into joggers and loungewear all spring (well, and always), but gah I am a jeans girl, and it has made me feel better to be focusing on them again, even if it’s just for fun and mental health!
What’s your favorite pair of distressed jeans ever? Or right now? If you have a rad pair to share, let us know! And as usual, happy jeans hunting, friends.
Hey hey from Portland, OR. Would love for you to follow me over on Instagram for all things casual mom-wear, lots of foodie pics and donuts, some kitchen dance parties and some social justice. xo