The pursuit of effortlessness perseveres, but as one would expect it, a year gone by is bound to reflect a change in direction for ripped denim, as the trend raises higher for spring 2014. Last year, everything pointed towards an unexpected shift in style, as the shredded denim transitioned from a super-sloppy aesthetic, to an all grown-up one. This season, the evolution follows its natural course as we witness the torn-up denim expand into super-chic territory, slowly but surely building its way into the fall of 2014.

Not suitable for most occasions in the not so distant past, ripped denim became de rigueur in 2014. Here’s how to rock the trend this season by turning it into a testimony of flawless style.

Ripped jeans: entering super-chic territory.

When talking ripped jeans for spring 2014, the main challenge consists in trying to maintain a state of comfort, while still aiming for the distressed jeans to look effortlessly pulled together. The chicer, the better, but the stylish doesn’t necessarily come by the way of channeling your femininity. From classy, edgy and super-tough approaches, to menswear inspired takes on the trend, the ways to enhance the shredded jeans these upcoming seasons appear rather endless and admittedly exciting.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Alice + Olivia S/S ’14 look book

Super-torn vs. subtle.

Sometimes a little goes a long way, other times instead, going all out is just a matter of differentiating your style amongst others that stand-out in equal measure. The same principle can be applied when choosing your take on ripped jeans for spring 2014. If your goal is to turn them into a statement by keeping in touch with the core of the trend, opt for those boyfriend jeans featuring cuts that expose whole knees or sections of leg. Complete the statement with slick heels to keep the balance leaning towards sophistication, or embellished flats for a super cool-slouchy look. To take things even further, look out for the new takes on denim, enhanced either with subtle embroideries, or shiny sequins.

If you seek something that will probably last you longer, promising to transition you through many more of the seasons to come, choose subtle shreds in your jeans and contrast their rebellious attitude using soft pastel tones, lightweight fabrics, delicate embroideries and statement heels.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Ripped jeans at Ashish and Diesel Black Gold, S/S ’14.

Ripped jean styles: skinny, straight, slouchy.

Each season brings along new finishes and fresh denim silhouettes that work towards expanding the myriad of styles already available on the market. In the case of the distressed jeans, the added choices include going all skinny, adopting a straight, relaxed cut or opting for a slouchier silhouette instead. If you find yourself torn between the three, just know you’ll end up looking equally relevant in either one of them.

In terms of colour, the ripped denim options for spring 2014 are equally varied. From washed to dark blues, from white to black and the occasional gray in between, with or without embellishments, everything goes as long as it features the mandatory holes and shreds.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Ripped jeans on the streets of New York & Lisbon.

How to wear shredded jeans.

Choosing the appropriate style and silhouette represents only half of the fashion equation, while knowing how to wear the shredded jeans in a perfectly stylish matter both this spring and into fall 2014, stands for the other half. Together they aim to make you stand out on the streets with little effort whatsoever.

Wearing the ripped jeans in a casual manner implies more than often picking the way of the boyfriend silhouette. Relaxed, effortless but down-right cool, this is the style to consider if you favor comfort and easiness in your looks. If slouchy is not your thing, opt for bootleg and straight jeans that are also easy-to-wear and extremely comfortable. For this:

  • Pair your cuffed boyfriend jeans with basic staples up top (tank tops, white button-downs, or statement sweatshirts);
  • Preserve their carefree orientation by wearing them with pointy flats, or a cool pair of sneakers, but know that you can never go wrong with heels;
  • Limit your accessories to a roomy bag and add a floral bomber or a denim jacket for more of an effortlessly, street-ready look.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Ripped jeans worn the casual way on the streets of New York, at Honor Among Thieves S/S ’14, and in Next’s S/S ’14 look book

If your goal for this season and beyond is to turn the shredded jeans into the ultimate expression of sophistication, this too can be done by keeping things on the uncomplicated and effortless path. For a sophisticated approach:

  • Pair your distressed jeans with delicate floral blouses and crop tops, layered underneath sleek blazers or biker jackets;
  • Wear your torn-up jeans with a sheer button-down in a delicate pastel shade, favoring the inverse shirt buttoning;
  • Team the cuffed ripped denims with a pair of high heels (printed pumps, ankle strap, cutout or lace-up sandals);
  • Style your denim look with a soft, easy hair-do: deconstructed milkmaid braids, soft low ponytails, sporty french braids.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Ripped jeans worn the sophisticated way at Nicole Miller, Rachel Zoe and Diesel Black Gold, S/S ’14.

Although referred as a staple of the woman’s wardrobe today, the ripped denim trend is no longer limited to jeans. Aside from the cut off denim shorts, this year maintains ripped overalls as part of the ’90s glorious revival.

Cut off denim shorts.

The cut off denim shorts are such a transseasonal staple that you won’t be surprised to see them reign supreme on the streets from early summer, all the way back into spring. During fall, they look right on point as accompanied by thick pairs of stockings or tights, for spring they look just as good with a pair of bare legs. This season relishes the ripped denim shorts where the shreds become part of the whole worn off/vintage-inspired charm.

Do yours justice by paring them with crop tops and tied button-downs, or with a plaid shirt effortlessly tied around the waist. For a more elegant approach, style the ripped denim shorts with a sheer blouse, a pair of leather pumps and a pastel biker jacket, keeping the overall look relaxed and chic.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Cut off denim shorts on the streets of New York and at Rachel Zoe S/S ’14.

Ripped denim overalls.

Crop tops and denim overalls make for such a great match that they seem almost destined to be worn together for a casual, yet edgy look. Otherwise, the ripped denim dungarees can be made to look smart and sophisticated if worn on top of classic white shirts and underneath tailored blazers for that easy, laid-back sense of composure.

Ripped denim spring 2014
Ripped denim overalls on the streets of Lisbon and at DKNY S/S ’14.

Ripped denim: trend updates.

Recent evolution

To destroy something in a way that looks haphazard and rebellious can actually require a level of meticulous care. Such is the irony of ripped denim. But the careless factor is still its main appeal, no matter if you take scissors and sandpaper to a pair of jeans in your garage or pay for pre-shredded designer denim. And it’s the pursuit of effortlessness that earmarks ripped denim as sticking around for fall 2012 – just maybe not in the way you’d expected.

Ripped denim: not just for jeans

To see how ripped denim is being interpreted in 2012, you need only look to the streets. The key thing is it’s no longer just about one particular look; nor is it limited to jeans.

Other ways to inject a bit of ripped denim into your fall wardrobe:

  • Raw edges at the hems of otherwise tidy jeans
  • Raw edges on dresses or overalls
  • Ripped denim jackets
  • Layerings of different types of ripped denim

ripped denim street style
Above: street style photos from the fall 2012 fashion week season

Ripped denim: a new mood

The biggest change in how ripped denim is worn comes from a change in mood. The love of contrasts will see it move away from fully themed outfits and into an effortless mix of styles.

A perfect example: DSquared2, for their fall 2012 campaign, paired lightly ripped skinny jeans with 1950s retro glamour. It’s a subtle contrast that works wonders. Ripped denim no longer has to be about rock or grunge; marry it with any fall 2012 trends, and the more surprising the better.

ripped denim dsquared2

Cut off denim shorts

Now this is a style that truly hasn’t gone away, especially during summer. And it’s also one that’s easy enough to carry through to fall. Denim cut-offs with stockings or tights are an easy winter staple, and all you really need is a pair of scissors.

cut off denim shorts

An off-duty model look of denim shorts and a biker jacket is a fail-safe, but for fall 2012 expect to also see them contrasted by sophisticated pairings up top. A crisp shirt, statement jewellery and a tailored blazer will give new life to cut-off denim shorts in a way that’s elegant and now.

denim cut offs

Like many of the fall 2012 / 2013 trends emerging, this one is coming back around from 2008-2009. Back then it was all about neo-rock and grunge, with Kate Moss leading the way, but in time it’s moved to a more refined look. As such, we don’t expect to be seeing too many examples of bum-baring shredded shorts again – just yet.

Kate Moss and Gisele Bundchen in the Ripped Denim trend

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