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If there is one article of clothing that exists in every wardrobe from Singapore to El Salvador and everywhere else in between, it would very likely be a pair of jeans. After all, the global denim jeans market is expected to reach US$85.4 billion by 2025.
Most say they love these blue pants because they are comfortable, durable and mould to the body the longer they are worn. In fact, so versatile is the humble pair of jeans that it has taken on many forms and one of the latest is the ripped jeans.
But where did this style come from? Who can wear them and who should not? Where can you wear them to? We look at this denim trend to see how it made the cut.
Ripped jeans may have been appearing between the glossy covers of fashion magazines, on the Instagram posts of celebrities and in the streets of cities the world around but they are not new fashion statements. In fact, the first pair of ripped jeans worn for style and not because they were torn from being worn out appeared in the 1970s as part of the punk subculture. By the 1980s and 1990s, ripped jeans had moved into mainstream fashion, their popularity bolstered by celebrity poster boys and girls like Kurt Cobain and Madonna.
The ripped jeans of today is part of the 1980s and 1990s revival in fashion made popular from 2010 when designers such as Diesel and Balmain paraded the look on the catwalk. The difference now, of course, is that instead of buying regular jeans and ripping them yourself as the earlier ripped jeans devotees used to do, the ripped jeans these days come pre-ripped or “distressed”.
Wherever jeans are not welcomed, ripped jeans are even less so. So, if your workplace is not the sort of establishment that lets you wear jeans, ripped jeans would naturally not be allowed either. At offices, for interviews, during formal events – these are usual no-go places for jeans, ripped or otherwise.
The issue then is if jeans are allowed, are ripped jeans necessarily permitted, too? Not always, is the answer. Jeans are quite the norm for university students in Singapore. But the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University, the country’s top two universities, prohibit revealing clothes. If your ripped jeans reveal more than they conceal, they are likely to earn you censure in those places and, very likely, any place that allows jeans. Singapore is less concerned with the formality of your wardrobe than its modesty.
When you are young, there are few styles you cannot pull off. But as you get older (of course, what is considered old shifts according to personal and societal definitions), you have to be more careful about your wardrobe choices. One fashion guru noted that the worst thing anyone can do is to dress younger than they are.
Given the somewhat casual and rebellious vibe of ripped jeans, teenagers and twenty-somethings certainly have no problems carrying off the look. But what if you do not fall into that age bracket? Then, it may boil down to who you are, your attitude to fashion and where you are wearing those ripped jeans to.
Here is a checklist that may help you decide if you want to walk around with holes, slashes and gashes in your jeans.
50-year-old Jennifer Aniston has been spotted in ripped denims. Of course, she is an actress and the rules of fashion do no quite work for celebrities the way they do for ordinary folk.
Of course, you need not be Madonna or Cher to defy ageing and fashion norms. Sometimes, it boils down to a certain attitude. If you want to wear a pair of ripped jeans – at whatever age – you need to have an attitude that goes with those jeans. Flamboyance, boho chic, and a certain edginess are what you need to pull off the look.
One denim specialist at a London fashion store maintained that ripped jeans can work at any age if you know how to work them. The older you are, the more the rips have to be simple, even minimal.
The least revealing would be scrapes or scratches on your jeans. Then, there are the shreds where the fabric has worn out but there are still threads that hold the gash together. Finally, the holes which requires no explanation. The guide is that the older you are, the fewer and less dramatic the rips should be: No or fewer holes for the old. If you are young, you can literally let it rip.
Next, where the rips are is important. Those found on the thigh, knee or shin area but acceptable. Any found in places that might reveal too much – near the butt or groin – should be avoided no matter who you are, how old you are or where you are wearing the jeans to.
Finally, how many rips there are can make a difference. Too many and you will look more hobo than boho.
How you accessorise your ripped jeans also matters. Worn with a classic shirt, a structured blazer, a sophisticated scarf or a simple string of pearls, a woman of any age can be part of the ripped jeans trend.
Ripped or otherwise, your jeans should fit you and complement your body type.