How to Make '80s Jeans

by Christina Sloane

Acid-washed denim of the 1980s has a mottled white and blue appearance.

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.

Items you will need

  • Bleach
  • Spray bottle
  • Brick or wood block
  • Cheese grater
  • Sandpaper
  • Pocket knife
Step 1

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.

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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

Step 6

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

Step 7

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

Step 8

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

Step 9

Wash and dry the jeans before wearing.

Photo Credits

  • Florian Seefried/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

About the Author

Christina Sloane has been writing since 1992. Her work has appeared in several national literary magazines.