How to Break In Stiff or Vintage Denim with No Stretch







QUICK STEP REFERENCE:

1) Put on stiff denim. Go for a very snug, almost uncomfortable fit as they will stretch.
2) Fill a bathtub with very warm (but not hot) water.
3) Add a handful of salt and about half a bottle of vinegar. No need to be precious and measure. Stir.
4) Sit in the tub in your jeans for as long as you can stand it. It smells like a pickle jar but it's good for skin.
5) Get out of the tub and do some stretches.
6) Take off the jeans and lay them flat to dry.
7) Once dry, wash them again with soap and cold water. Some people also add conditioner to this step to add extra softness (I did not but I would use the cheapest one I could find and I did this spur of the moment, all I have is too expensive to experiment with like this.)
8) Tumble dry on the lowest heat setting possible.
9) Wear and enjoy!

Photo by BFF Zoe 

Not to be that girl but these jean shorts fit me amazing. When I got them (on sale) they were pants. Gorgeous, raw, stiff pants. Putting them on was a nightmare. Walking around in them a pain. I knew they would fit me like a glove someday, but how would I wear them enough to make that happen? How could I get through the pain of breaking them in.

Here's the thing. I am obsessed with an amazing pair of vintage shorts. There is something stiff denim does to the booty that denim mixed with stretchy material just can never do. I have been blessed once in my life with finding the perfect, already broken in pair but eventually they broke down so much that tiny, sharp plastic threads started poking out of the waste band and they became unbearable to wear. These jeans were so clearly the fresh and unbroken cousin of those beloved (now unwearable) rare and elusive vintage find. I could not part with them. So I hit the internet. Purveyor of all knowledge. Turns out not a lot of women write about breaking in jeans... But men do. So many men. I found everything from "run them over with a car" to "wear them a few hours everyday for a year until they form fit to your body." None of those suggestions appealed. Then I read an article about a vinegar bath. I would link to it here but I can't find it anymore. I wish I pinned it. I tried just wearing them but it was miserable. Chafing everywhere. So I decided to wing it. I would make my own vinegar bath. If it worked lives would be changed.

So I poured a bathtub. I dumped a generous handful of salt into the warm water. I dumped about a half a bottle of vinegar into the tub. I pulled on the jeans. I sat in the tub for an hour.

I wasn't worried about my sensitive skin because vinegar is actually great for it. I have used it to treat everything from folliculitis to sunburns. It was part fashion DIY, part skincare treatment. I read a magazine. I stayed in until the water got cold. I moved my body around. When I got out the but and thighs fit perfectly. Like they were custom sewn for me. Unfortunately the calves had gotten too stretched. I contemplated sewing them and then decided to lay them flat to dry then make a decision. I pulled them off and on again - smelling still delightfully like a pickle jar. FInally I caved and cut them into shorts. Then I sent them out for a "cold" wash (we don't have a washer dryer) and a low temp dry. When they came back they were the perfect amount of frayed and melted onto my body like butter. I will most likely never wash them again (but I will freeze them to kill bacteria and disinfect them, thank you internet.)

The proof of their perfect fit is in the little keyhole in my inner thighs. I am a big girl. If it weren't for my turnout my thighs would touch. They still do in some places. But my lean, spinner/dancer/bootcamp muscles create a little keyhole at the apex of my thigh. You can see them in yoga pants, but not jeans. Never jeans. Even my sprayed on jeggings. But in these jeans - these custom fitted to my body jeans - the little gap shows clear as day. Better than tailoring, it's like someone custom made them exactly for me.

Behold, the secret to breaking in stiff denim.


Mother Jeans | Everlane Tote | L'Academie Camisole | Converse | Blush Hat | Prada Stud Sunglasses | Lace Triangle Bra

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