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Ripped jeans have been in fashion since the 1980s, and have come back in recent years, (much to the horrified gasps of the older generation and scrutiny in gossip mags).

However controversial these rough-and-ready pants are, they’ve got a permanent place in the hearts of true fashion lovers. 

Ripped denim with distressed knees and downright gashes can be worn in many ways, from super casual to even formal. Welcome to our guide for how to wear ripped knees! We’ve got looks and how-to tips, complete with celebrity inspiration from the 1980s to today. 


Ripped jeans with lace underneath, and layered accessories 

Celebrity inspiration: We absolutely have to begin with the queen of ripped denim herself, 1980s Madonna. When gazing at images of Madge in her heyday, one thing is clear, the woman knew how to accessorize!

She paired it with a white tee, denim jacket, layered belts, and layered leather bracelets. Of course, she rocked a smokey eye and matte red lip. 

One particular image we love shows her wearing ripped jeans rolled up at the ankles, with white lace leggings peeking through the rips.


  • In winter, pair your jeans with lace tights for an extra creative detail peeking under the rips. This is an excellent way to embrace larger ripped holes without exposing too much skin
  • Balance out the look by pairing with a plain white tee, tucked into the jeans with a black, studded belt 
  • For winter, pair with a long-sleeved, high-neck bodysuit in a plain navy, grey marle, or black shade

A bustier and boots 

Celebrity inspiration: 1980s Cher is one of the most iconic fashion icons ever. The tall goddess was the Queen of cool glam in the 80s, (and the 70s, of course!).

One of the best examples of Cher-centric ripped jeans is when she wore a bustier-style top, ripped baggy jeans, a white jacket with wide shoulders, and slouchy silver boots.

The look is a little ridiculous but in the best way possible. This look is ideal for going out on the town, to a special dinner, or even an edgy cocktail party where dresses are not mandatory. 


  • Wear ripped skinny jeans (as opposed to uber-Mom jeans!) to make the look chicer for 2020
  • Look for a structured bustier bodysuit to ensure a smooth fit without any “riding up” 
  • Pick a pair of cute stiletto heels in a rich, bright shade or copy Cher with a high-shine metallic hue 
  • Layer the bustier with a close-cut, cropped leather jacket 


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Fitted tees and leather jackets 

Celebrity inspiration: The Ramones in the 1980s were not only iconic for their punk rock music but their attitude-packed outfits. They were champions of ripped jeans, with the gashes located mainly at the knee.

And hey, they showed that ripped jeans were and still are a genderless trend, looking just as grand on guys as they do on women! The Ramones wore their jeans with fitted graphic tees, leather biker jackets, and worn-in sneakers. 


  • Take the look from punk rock to punk hot by wearing black skinny jeans with a high waist and rips on the thigh 
  • Try your hand at thrift shopping to find a vintage (or close to!) band or graphic tee. If wearing skinny jeans, contrast the cut with an oversized tee with a French tuck, or knotted at the front
  • Leather jackets are just perfect for this look, especially cropped, fitted biker jackets with silver hardware (zips or studs)
  • Take a different route from the Ramone lads and swap the sneakers for a pair of heeled ankle boots or even a killer pair of stilettos in an unexpected colour such as pink (Ramones meets Fairy Princess? Sounds like a clash we can get on board with!)

DIY ripped jeans

If you don’t have a pair of ripped jeans and don’t want to go out and buy a new pair, you can get on board by distressing a pair you already have! Ripped jeans are so much cooler and more authentic when they’ve been created “DIY” style. That way, your pair will be 100% unique.

Super expensive designer ripped jeans? No thanks.

You can push extremely hard, don’t worry, the idea is to break the fibers open! You can either leave it there and wait for the rips to form naturally due to the thinner fibers, or go in with scissors or a knife to create the rip right away. Use your fingers to fray the edges.

The process is really easy, especially if your jeans are already well-loved. Start by getting some inspiration with celeb photos to find the distressed style and rip placement you like. 

You can even make your own shorts!!

About The Author

May is totally crazy about the 80s and everything the decade inspired! Having grown up in a household that was totally taken over by 80s music and fashion its only natural that May lives and breathes the 80s!

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