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13 In Styling Tips

Grab scissors and update jeans with a frayed hem

DIY fray jean hem
Sporting my self-frayed jean hem

Feel like shopping for something new? The latest thing you can do with your money is to purchase jeans with frayed hem edges where a machine hem used to be. Or, for no money at all, you can get the look with this DIY project using a pair of jeans you already own.

I must admit that when I first starting seeing frayed edges on jeans I thought, “Who’s going to pay good money for jeans with raw edges?”

I’ve resisted other trends and then fallen in love with them

In a short time skinny jeans became my favorite

I’ve had conversations like this in my head about other trends. For instance many years ago I thought, “Who’s going to buy skinny jeans? That’s crazy!” And who got herself into skinny jeans after moaning about them for months? Yours truly. The skinny jean went from being a trend to becoming a classic.

You can probably guess my answer to this question: Do I recommend owning jeans with frayed hem edges? Absolutely! When I got around to trying on a pair of jeans with a frayed hem, I had an instant falling-in-love feeling. I-n-s-t-a-n-t!

Today I think a frayed edge looks modern and fresh. Every client I’ve gotten into frayed hem jeans have been happy. They may not have tried it on without my suggestion, but when they see their reflection in the mirror, they love the new look.

The DIY way to get frayed hems

After buying, wearing and loving jeans that come with the frayed hem, I got the nerve up to create my own frayed edge jeans from ones I already had in my wardrobe.

For instance, last year I cut off the hem of my J.Jill orchid jeans. Oh, boy, that was an experience–not because of cutting them off, but … well, you just may have to read about that adventure. They turned out to be my go-to jeans last summer.

DIY fray jean hem
One of the ways I wore frayed hem jeans last year

I’m trying to build the point that frayed jean hems have been around a while now. You can dive in and enjoy them without feeling like this look will pass in three months.

Frayed hems make me feel like a rebel

This last week I performed hem surgery on a pair of jeans for a client of mine and did it for myself too. It’s funny; there’s a certain daredevil attraction to this act. I feel like I’m getting away with something which is one of my favorite feelings.

I know Mother would not have approved. With her Virgo sensibility, she’d have looked at the ragged, raw edge of my jeans and said, “Honey, you could grab the scissors in the knife drawer and cut those edges so the hem would at least be clean and neat.”

“I know Mom, but I like them this way.”

See? Such a rebel move for standing up to Mom!

Freaking Mom out with this DIY project

The thing that would have both scared Mom and wowed her two minutes later would be if she saw me actually cutting off the hem of my jeans right in front of her.

She’d have seen a jean like this, one I wore last Thursday pre-fray with a normal hem, and would have complimented me on them. She likes white jeans.

Pre-fray on Thursday in Berkeley

But then this would happen: Picture us at their lake home in Minnesota. She’d be in the front porch having coffee and reading the paper on the oversized couch. I’d go into the kitchen and pull out those scissors from the knife drawer, come out to the front porch and lay the white jeans on the oval-shaped table where we play Liverpool Rummy in the summertime. Her eyes would look up from the Lifestyle section of the Forum.

Maybe I wouldn’t even tell her what I was about to do. I’d lay the pant legs across the table and with the scissors, I’d start cutting off the hem.

DIY frayed jean hem
Easy to fray
DIY frayed jean hem
It takes a minute to fray the hem on your used jeans

She’d gasp and say, “Oh Brenda! For heaven’s sake, what are you doing to those jeans?” I’d say, “I’m turning them into a new, modern look, Mom.”

With the hem cut off, I’d start pulling at the raw edge with my fingertips to get the fraying started. If I wanted to make them fray more, I’d throw them into the washer with a load of laundry and then dry them.

MOTHER jeans on the left, Eileen Fisher frayed hem jeans on the right

She’d be shaking her head thinking I was reckless. That’s when I’d pull up some images on my iPhone of raw-edged jeans being sold in stores right now.

NOTE: The Eileen Fisher Soft Denim Raw Edge Ankle Jean above on the left sells for $188. The MOTHER ‘The Looker’ Frayed Ankle Jeans on the right is priced at $210. I love both these brands.

When Mom would see the prices of those jeans, she’d suddenly think I was clever for getting the look without spending the money. Her opinion of frayed edge jeans would begin to soften.

Just in case Mother was still balking, I’d show her the lengths companies go to out-do each other in the frayed jean hem department. “See these, Mom?” I’d say.

frayed jeans
Way frayed

She’d take one look, shake her head, and say, “Yours look so much better.”

“Glad you like them, Mom,” I’d say. “Do you want me to fray your jean hem?” I’d tease. “No, I’m not ready for that,” she’d say. “Let me get used to combining navy blue with black first and then we’ll see.”

Frayed jean outfits in action Saturday through Monday

Coming out of my daydream, I’ll tell you that we had four fun-filled days over a long weekend with four of our Minnesota girl relatives. I wore my new and improved Chico’s So Slimming frayed jeans on Saturday when we took them to the Ferry Building for the Farmer’s Market. It was cold. I wore socks and ankle booties.

DIY frayed hem on jeans
Frayed hem hits just barely above the ankle bootie edge
DIY frayed jean hem
Playing in SF at the Ferry Building

On Sunday we spent the day with them in warmer Petaluma and I wore my frayed hem jeans with a blue embroidered shirt, my jean jacket, and sneakers.

DIY frayed hem on jeans
Checking out my DIY frayed jean hem in Petaluma
Russ’ first selfie with Carly, me, Sydney, Wendy, and Maia from Minnesota
DIY frayed hem on jeans

And then on Monday while our relatives were hiking in Muir Woods and Erin and I were working with a client, I wore them again. This time I layered two mesh tops (a grayish one under a black one) and added my caper-colored Dressori kimono jacket, Cotelac sandals, and my go-to Rebecca Minkoff bone-colored tote.

Dressori jacket
Wearing white jeans with frayed hems to work

And on Tuesday, I gave them a rest!

I bet some of you have altered your jeans to look like this. For you readers seeing this up close and personal for the first time, would you be tempted to take scissors to a pair of jeans you already own and create a new look?

Let’s discuss!!