Denim Washes: How to Choose the Most Flattering One on You

Hanged jeans

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For most people, the only way to update a denim supply is to look for a new cut or an artful distressed look. After all, distressed is the in style look these days. But there’s a way to be more adventurous with your jeans that doesn’t involve cutting holes in them (not that we’re against it). The answer is to explore different denim washes.

Denim washing dates back to the 70s. At the time, most people did it to make their jeans more comfortable. But today, this technique is the magic behind the different types of jeans you see in magazines and the streets. From distressed to bleached denim washes, we can guarantee there are various options you’ve not tried that would look amazing on you.

First Things First: What is Denim Wash and Why Does It Matter?

Denim washing refers to the aesthetic finish imparted on denim fabric to improve its softness and comfort. Besides, the washing process allows the manufacturer to achieve different styles, such as faded and distressed looks.

However, not all jeans undergo the washing process. Some only go through a dyeing process and are referred to as dry denim. The benefit of dry denim is that you can enjoy in it’s “new” state and achieve the washed look as the fabric fades and ages.Understanding the different types of denim washes not only gives you an insight into the manufacturing process but also allows you to diversify your style by trying different options you probably didn’t know existed.


Several technological factors go into making denim the fashion icon it is today. Over the years, the fabric has undergone vast improvements in weaving, finishing, and spinning. One of the most crucial steps in the jeans creation process is denim washing. It’s a vital step because it’s the only way manufacturers can achieve the look customers want. So which are the popular denim washing methods? Let’s find out.

Dyed Denim

When most people think about denim, the first thing that comes to mind is blue jeans. That’s probably because blue jeans were the first to be invented. However, today, you can find jeans in almost all colors. The fabric has to undergo a dyeing process to achieve a specific color on denim material.

Dyeing is quite different from other denim washes in the sense that it has a different effect; it aims at creating a more concentrated appearance. No matter the color, the fabric has to be dipped and oxidized severally to achieve the desired color. The more dipping and oxidization, the more vibrant the color of the jeans will be. The demand for colored jeans started back in the 90s, and it hasn’t stopped to date.


Sandblasting is a technique that aims at producing large light-colored patches on the surface of the jeans. This trend became popular in the early 2000s. The jeans are stone washed, chemically treated, or abraded using sandpaper to achieve the look.However, most manufacturers have dropped this technique after employees developed lung cancer and silicosis. Nonetheless, you can still find jeans with this technique on the market.

Acid Wash

Acid wash is also among the must-have denim washes you’ll come across. Most people consider it an 80s piece of clothing, but it dates back to the 60s. And surprisingly, manufacturers use no acid in the manufacturing process. Back in the day, they used pool chemicals to achieve the acid wash look. Today, manufacturers use a combination of stone washing and chemical treatment.

They add pumice stones and chlorine in a large cylinder and treat the jeans. The result is a nearly bleached look between the indigo dye and worn fabric. Most people consider it a retro looking seeing that it’s associated with a specific period in time. For this reason, you have to make it the center of your outfit whenever you wear it to make a statement.

Stone Washing

Stone washing is similar to acid washing. It aims at producing spider web-like patches of light and worn patterns across the fabric. The technique is quite straightforward. The denim undergoes treatment in a large cylinder containing stones, which pound the jeans to achieve the look.

Stonewashed jeans were among the customer favorite denim washes back in the 90s. However, you can still get them today, although the technique may be somewhat lowkey.


Just as the name suggests, distressed jeans are the type that looks aged even when they’re new. Manufacturers use different techniques to achieve the distressed look depending on which look they want to produce. Some of the popular methods include acid washing, sandblasting, and stone washing.

Distressed jeans tend to have patches of light colors on the surface, frayed edges, and seams, and sometimes some areas are completely destroyed. In short, these are the kind of jeans you think twice before wearing when you’re planning to meet the inlaws. They’re also not the best choice for people who play it safe when it comes to fashion. It takes someone bold to rock these type of jeans.

Enzyme Washing

Enzyme washing is an excellent alternative to stone washing. The goal of the technique is to achieve the aged look with bright patches on the fabric. Enzyme washing is better than stone washing for two reasons. For starters, it’s an environmentally friendly technique (which is what we need in this day and age).It’s also easy on the jeans. While the enzymes eat away at the exposed cellulose on the jeans, they don’t weaken the fabric’s composition. As a result, enzyme washed jeans tend to be more durable compared to stonewashed denim.


Hanged jeans after washing

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

There’s no doubt that light and dark blue jeans offer a timeless look. Not to mention, you can wear them with something as simple as a white t-shirt and still look great. But why would you play it safe when there so many denim washes to try out? As they say in fashion, life’s too short to wear boring clothes. So let’s find out how to pick the right denim washes to achieve a stunning look for any occasion.

Casual VS. Formal

The first thing you always need to do is to consider what type of occasion you are buying the jeans for. Is it a meeting with your boss or a hangout with your friends? If it’s the former, you need denim washes that scream formal. Dark denim washes are excellent for formal occasions. To achieve a classic formal look, men can wear jeans with a work shirt, belt, and formal shoes.

For the ladies, an official top and heels will do the trick. Flat shoes are also an excellent way to go if you’re not a fan of heels. If you need a pair of casual denim, light denim washes are excellent. You can pair them with a white t-shirt or a colorful one and your favorite pair of sneakers, and you’re good to go.


How many jeans have you decided you’ll only wear at home because they look nothing like how they looked when you bought them. We’ve all been there. You buy a pair of rich colored jeans only for them to fade into a completely different color after a few washes. The jeans quality and durability determines how long they’ll stay in perfect condition. Therefore, when shopping for jeans, it’s also essential to consider durability.Dark denim washes, especially dyed ones, tend to fade with frequent washing. Fortunately, the color won’t disappear overnight. It happens gradually. You can slow the fading process by reducing the number of washes. Instead of washing your jeans after every wear, clean them when they’re visibly dirty. That way, you’ll maintain the color longer, which is fantastic because you won’t have to buy another pair soon.

Is Distressed a Good Look?

Apart from color and durability, you’ll also have to choose between distressed denim washes and more laid back designs. Again, it boils down to what type of setting you plan to wear the jeans. Distressed jeans are excellent for casual settings, where there’s more freedom to wear whatever you want.

But don’t wear them to a meeting or brunch with your inlaws (unless they’re really cool and you’re 100 percent certain they won’t mind your way of dressing).

Styling is Key

One thing all denim washes have in common is that the styling must be impeccable for you to stand out. For instance, it’s not advisable to wear a shirt or t-shirt in the same color as your jeans. Doing so makes it look as if you’re in a one-piece suit, which is never a good look. For a stunning look, always ensure there’s a contrast between the colors you choose.For example, if you have dark wash denim, it’s best to wear a light colored shirt. You should also consider your accessories and shoes because they also have the power to make or break your look.

Fit is Everything

It doesn’t matter if you have the best denim washes in your closet if they’re all ill-fitting. The wrong fit draws the wrong kind of attention, and you definitely don’t want that. Therefore, when shopping for jeans, always make sure the fit is alright, and it frames your body in a flattering way. One way to ensure you have the right size is by trying the jeans on before buying them. And if you’re shopping online, make sure you know your measurements before ordering.

To Flatter or To Hide?

When trying to decide between different denim washes, it’s also vital to understand what you need. Do you need a denim wash that draws more attention to your curves or one that doesn’t? Lighter colors draw more attention compared to darker shades.

Therefore, if you want a pair of jeans that accentuates your curves, bright colors like light blue and white are the way to go. However, if you have killer curves and you’d like less attention, darker shades would be the best choice for you.


Drying jeans after washing

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

We all love blue jeans. It’s a staple that never goes out of style. But with all the denim washes available today, you’d be missing out if you only limited yourself to blue jeans. Some denim washes like distressed jeans seem a bit risky if you have a reserved fashion style, but there are so many more styles to try out.

So stop limiting yourself. Try white jeans, acid washed jeans, and other bold colors you haven’t tried before. Who knows, you may find a new favorite denim wash. Which is your favorite denim wash, and why? Please share your views and thoughts in the comments section below. We love hearing from our readers.

Featured image by it’s me neosiam via Pexels.

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