How to Make '80s Jeans

Acid-washed denim of the 1980s has a mottled white and blue appearance.
Acid-washed denim of the 1980s has a mottled white and blue appearance. (Image: Florian Seefried/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

Fashion trends of the 1980s -- heavily influenced by the punk movement, heavy metal music and MTV --allowed for more self expression than the late '90s and onwards. Although colorful and shocking at times, '80s fashion evokes a simpler, more genuine and carefree time period. If attending an '80s nostalgia party or dressing as an '80s character for Halloween, you can transform a pair of blue jeans into acid-washed jeans commonly worn throughout the era. Acid-washed jeans can be worn as-is or ripped and destroyed for a metalhead look.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Spray bottle
  • Brick or wood block
  • Cheese grater
  • Sandpaper
  • Pocket knife

Select a pair of blue jeans typical of the '80s era. Classic button-fly straight-leg jeans are fine for men. Women often wore tighter jeans with zippered ankles. Jeans of the '80s usually hit at the natural waist, unlike today’s fashion jeans which sit a little lower. Broken-in jeans from the thrift store will be easier to work with than a new pair.

Soak the jeans in warm water, wring out excess water and lay them out on a flat surface in a well-ventilated room.

Mix a 50/50 solution of chlorine bleach and water in a spray bottle.

Spray the jeans with the bleach solution for an acid-washed look. Work on both front and back. Wait for half an hour then wash the jeans in a cold water cycle. Repeat the bleach treatment if you want more fading. You can wear the jeans as-is or continue destroying them.

Place a brick or block inside the jeans under the area you want to destroy. Move the brick as you destroy different areas.

Cut rips in the jeans with a pocket knife. Use sandpaper to fray the edges for a natural look.

Make small rough patches and holes by scraping a cheese grater over various parts of the jeans.

Distress hems, pockets and knees with a piece of sandpaper.

Wash and dry the jeans before wearing.

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