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How to Wear Frayed Hem Jeans and Not Look Sloppy

The most modern way to wear jeans this spring is to let it all hang out – literally. Jeans with unraveled, frayed, and ragged hemlines are where it’s at. While some gals love frayed hem jeans, others think they look like someone got way too scissor-happy!

If you’re on the fence and want to give them a try while at the same time keeping them neat and classy, here are Four Ways to Wear Frayed Hem Jeans and Not Look Sloppy. 

raw edge jeans

1. Pick Your Degree of Fray

Sometimes you need to ease into a new fashion trend. I remember when skinny jeans made their début after years and years of bootcut. At first, they looked off, and many of us took a hard pass. But eventually, we tried them and liked them, and today they’re a staple in everyone’s closet. It’s all about letting the eye adjust.

If you want to stick your toe in the water, I recommend starting with a pair of release hem jeans. Just like it sounds, a released hem is when the hemstitching has been removed, and the hem is ‘freed’ or released, creating a cool, slightly edgy look. You’ll often get an exciting ombre effect depending on how faded the jeans are compared to the unrolled hem.

Though not as clean and crisp as a hemmed jeans, a released hem is pretty tame compared to an ultra-frayed pair on the frayed jean scale. The soft pink ones below are an example of release hem jeans. They’re sporty, and they don’t overpower.

Colored distressed jeans for women over 40

2. Balance Edgy Frayed Hem Jeans with a Soft Color

If you’re worried about looking too out-there and edgy, here’s a trick. Select frayed hem jeans in a soft and pretty color. A light, feminine color tones down the toughness and keeps the overall look classy and cool. The raw-edge jeans aren’t so raw looking anymore. A light-colored shoe with light jeans also creates a more gentle look.

Frayed hem jeans over 40

3. Keep Shoes and Accessories Feminine

Opposites not only attract, but they also make for fantastic style moments. When styling edgy jeans like these, don’t be matchy-matchy. Instead of an equally edgy bag and shoes, take the opposite approach and mix edgy, fashion-forward raw edge jeans with pretty, classic, and feminine accessories.

See how I’ve done it here? They don’t get much more distressed than these ragged, ankle-cropped jeans, but when you add a pretty, pointy-toe mule, a fresh floral crossbody bag, and feminine drop earrings, the ragged, frayed hem suddenly looks more like a cute fashion statement. ( Here are more ideas on how to mix up your style with opposites.)

Cropped white jeans for women over 40

4. Wear the Right Jeans for Your Body

As always, it comes down to fit. Even though cropped frayed hem jeans are all the rage, you need the right pair of jeans for your body type. For example, if you’re a pear-shaped gal,  frayed hem jeans with a bit of a flare like a step hem jeans I show above would work well for you.

What do I mean by step hem? Take a closer look, and you’ll see that these jeans are cut shorter in the front and longer in the back, like a stair step. You can buy them cropped like this or wear the ones I like, ankle-length step hem jeans.

Like release hem jeans, step hem jeans are pretty easy to wear. These are a good entry point if you want to start wearing frayed hem jeans. (By the way, if you don’t like all those threads hanging down, give them a little haircut. You’ll still be left with the cool-looking fringe.)

5. Keep Your Top Interesting

By adding a knockout top with plenty of its own stuff going on in terms of color and pattern, you take the emphasis off your hem and redirect it to your top half. Not only will this help you feel more comfortable, but the distressed hems on your jeans also recede into the background. They’re still there, making you look modern, but when compared to your stunning top, they’re not that big of a deal.

On the other hand, if you want to play up your frayed hem jeans, go for a plainer top and a fabulous attention-grabbing shoe to draw the eye downward to the hem of your jeans and your feet. It’s all about balance.

Distressed hem black jeans over 40

6.  Try Tulip-Hem Jeans

If you like a neater look, try the latest version of frayed hem jeans, the tulip hem. As the name implies, tulip hem jeans are scalloped at the bottom, looking like a pretty tulip. This is a strong trend for the spring and summer and a smart way to show off your pretty shoes, sandals, and pedicure. Tulip hem jeans have a slightly more feminine feel and highlight your pretty ankles too.

Now that you’ve had a look at these cute styles, where do you stand on distressed hem jeans? Do you own a pair? Would you buy them?

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