Fashion & Style

Different denim washes

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closet of faded jeans
Washing gives denim jeans character to match the character wearing them
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The many different denim washes produce the variety of hues of blue jeans

Check out what’s hanging in every American’s closet and you’re probably find a number of pairs of blue jeans. I use the term “blue” loosely because these jeans are most likely many different shades of blue, from almost white to midnight blue to jeans that look like they were worn in a bleach fight.

That's because jeans are made from denim, a cotton fabric that fades under normal washing. This fact has caused many jeans wearers to become creative and find different denim washes to fade blue jeans into unique hues and patterns.

The looks have become so popular that most clothing manufacturers now offer pre-washed and pre-faded jeans. Let's take a look at how these different denim washed jeans are made.

By far, the oldest and most popular form of faded denim is the stone wash jeans. The name comes from the original technique of fading and wearing our or distressing the fabric, which involved rubbing the denim with pumice stones. These volcanic rocks look like stone sponges and fade the cloth through physical wearing and tearing. As the demand grew, the process was modernized - first by putting the rocks in rugged tumbler washers with the denim then by using enzymes in the wash to fade the fabric with less destruction.

Those white or faded spots you see one some blue jeans are the result of a process called acid washing. To achieve this look, the denim is first washed to remove its finish. The cloth is then splashed with bleach, not acid, in a wide variety of amounts and patterns. The bleach fades the indigo color and the result is the popular blotched look of acid wash jeans.

Another popular denim wash is the classic wash, sometimes called the light wash or 'vintage' or 'antique' look. This simply means that the jeans have been pre-washed a number of times so that they lose their band-new stiffness and get that dusty, slightly chalky look that jeans get after a few washings and fadings.

If you want to look like you've been working hard on the job or in the yard without actually breaking a sweat, put on a pair of dirty wash jeans. These jeans are first given an acid wash to get a worn look and remove some of the blue dye. The white spots are then given a 'dirty' look with a brown stain - tea is a popular alternative of you make them at home. The result is a look that drives mom's crazy on laundry day.

While not exactly a wash, two other popular denim styles are sandblasted jeans and shotgun jeans. Sandblasting involves distressing the denim material with high-powered blasts of sand or other abrasive substances to achieve a worn look. Shotgun jeans have dents or holes made in them from being shot a number of times with a shotgun or pellet gun. Both techniques are hip but dangerous and shouldn't be tried at home.

Blue jeans are our favorite things to wear because they look different every time we wear them. Different denim wash jeans are perfect for people who don't have that kind of patience.

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