Along with the return of all things 80s has come a resurgence in “deconstruction”…ie. rips, tears, shreds, and garments seemingly torn asunder. L.A.-based designer Raquel Allegra recently showed tattered L.A. County Jail shirts fashioned – unbelievably – into fabulously floaty tops and dresses (above), while Erin Wasson looked unbelievably tacky trendy in a pair of well-ventilated TopShop jeans. Fashion bloggers like Rumi at FashionToast, Outsapop, and Camille of Childhood Flames (who works some serious shredding magic with a seam ripper and a Hanes tee) have all blogged about the grooviness of a shredded top. And shredded tights look tres au courant with a dark mini, sweaterdress, or anything frilly (just not plaid…too 1992).
Instead of shelling out for pre-ripped tights, here’s how to actually do it yourself:
1. PICK THE RIGHT PAIR The last thing you want is a granny’ish thigh shaper peeking out from beneath your mini skirt, so choose semi-sheer or sheer black stockings. And because the higher-denier weaves of opaque tights and more expensive versions don’t shred vertically as well, cheaper is best for this project. Try: L’eggs Sheer Energy
2. START TO SLASH Put on the tights and use tiny scissors or a seam ripper to make horizontal slashes around thigh- or knee-level. To create the best looking “ladders”, snip only the vertical anchors (between the horizontal threads).
3. ARTFULLY SHRED Use your fingers to create runs in the stockings by pulling vertically up and down. Keep pulling at the horizontal threads until you have the look you want. NOTE: Don’t pull too many horizontal threads or you’ll end up with an unattractive “fluffy” sort of look. Also, to keep your hard work from (literally) falling apart, stop pulling before you hit the areas prone to stress and ripping – ie. before you hit the panty/crotch area at the top; similarly, do not pull all the way down to the ankles/bottom of the feet.
4. FIX & FINISH To prevent any further ripping and destruction, dab on quick-dry clear nailpolish, pulling the tights away from your skin as you apply, and waiting til it’s dry before letting go. Although the nailpolish will look a bit “crusty” when you take the tights off, when you put them on again, the polish will be invisible.
5. HAND WASH Deliberate shredding makes clothing delicate, so hand-washing is a must.
NOW, ABOUT SHREDDING DENIM…getting it right can be tricky, which is why we recommend this how-to manual, Denim Design Lab (available at Amazon.com). Every form of distressing is covered, including sandpaper, a razor blade, scissors, handheld drill, and even a cheese grater. For more helpful tips and ideas on shredding, check out tutorials at Park and Cube (Alexander Wang’s shredded chain denim shorts) and Brightest Young Things.
With the right tools, some careful attention, and enough time, anyone can produce fabulous results that look right off the runways. Any questions? Email me at CarlyJCais AT FashionTribes.com. Happy DIY-ing!
-Carly J. Cais