Double, Acid, Tie-Dye Denim: Nightmares from the 80s Are Here to Stay

In the 80s I was a teenager who loved Madonna’s post-atomic outfits and over-accessorized her style, mostly made of thrifted or hand-me-down clothes. I wore jeans most of the time, with simple sweaters and t-shirts. I had two favourite pairs of jeans, both by Giorgio Armani: one pair was skinny and the other slightly flared, which I completely wore down. I also loved denim jackets (ok, mine was made of light blue denim and had batwing sleeves, not classy), so double denim (jeans and denim jacket in mismatching colours) for me was a must. Jeans have always been a staple of my style: now I only wear flared jeans [1] (skinny jeans are nice but I am not Kate Moss! so I don’t really look good with them on) and sometimes I go back to double denim, with my trusty fitted dark denim jacket. I don’t understand the reason why double denim is considered a fashion don’t, but this trend is coming back from the 80s, and it’s coming with acid and tie-dye denim, other two big trends from the same decade. What are you waiting for? Take your acid (and ripped) jeans out of the closet, because some ‘nightmares’ from the 80s are (hopefully) here to stay.

Kanye West is probably the first who has brought double denim back. If you look at the pic on the left, you’ll notice he has even dared to wear triple denim (jeans, shirt and jacket, all in different washes).  I like West’s style, because he isn’t afraid of experimenting with fashion: in the second pic, for example, he tries to make double denim elegant, adding a white shirt, a blue sweater and a necktie to jeans and jacket.

Christina Ricci is another fan of double and triple denim. In the pic on the left, she paired black jeans to a Wrangler jacket and a Louis Vuitton denim bag, while on the pic on the right she is wearing the same jacket with Adriano Goldschmiedt jeans.

Not many have ventured into the dangerous world of double denim, but lots of celebrities have recently been spotted wearing denim jackets. This is a trend coming from the 80s, but the styles of the modern denim jackets are inspired to vintage models. Emma Roberts wore a dark denim jacket on a simple t-shirt and black trousers, while Chloe Sevigny chose a Wrangler jacket. Nicole Richie, on the other hand, has recently worn an Esprit denim jacket on her Rick Owens tank dress.

Pete Wentz likes having fun with clothes and is a fan of double denim too. He was spotted at the Nickleodeon’s 22nd Annual Kids’ Choice Awards wearing a denim shirt/jacket (worn with a black necktie) and faded black jeans. Kanye West often wears his Levi’s Red Tab vintage jacket, a passepartout that can be paired to almost anything.

Now, as for acid and tie-dye jeans, the trend has been started by Christophe Decarnin, the Balmain designer, who sent models on the Spring/Summer 2009 runway wearing amazing jeans: these faded, ripped, layered and printed skin-tight jeans are very expensive but they’re selling out fast all over the world.

On the catwalk jeans were worn with sequined, leather or military-inspired jackets (with big shoulders) and sky-high sandals. These sexy outfits are truly the modern essence of the denim rock spirit.

Lindsay Lohan has been one of the first celebrities to be spotted wearing Balmain jeans: she’s chosen ripped jeans in acid wash, which she paired to Azzedine Alaia platform wedges, plain white t-shirt and shirt, and Diesel golden aviator sunglasses.

While shopping in Milan, Victoria Beckham has recently worn Balmain tie-dye padded-knee jeans. She has also worn a Balmain leather jacket, a Hèrmes Birkin bag and Christian Louboutin Declic pumps. While Lindsay Lohan made her outfit casual, Victoria Beckham has kept the sexy and rock vibe of the outfit from the runway.

I’ve always had a thing for tie-dyed clothing, because of their bohemian/hippie vibe, but it’s refreshing to see how tie-dyed jeans can be updated and become fashionable. Fergie, the Black Eyed Peas singer, has been spotted twice wearing tie-dyed jeans: in the first case, she wore a pair of black/grey jeans, with a leather jacket and high-heeled ankle boots; in the second case, she wore a pair of black/electric blue jeans, with a black fitted jacket, a Dolce & Gabbana handbag and mirror aviator sunglasses.

Nicole Richie is one of my style icons, so I was thrilled when I saw a pic of her wearing these JET New Wave Light Splatter jeans. These are not tie-dyed but bleached in some spots: the result is very beautiful, because it reminds me of the dripping paint technique.

The main denim trend of the last years has been related to boyfriend and ripped jeans (every celebrity, from Reese Witherspoon to Katie Holmes, including Nicky Hilton and Kim Kardashian [2], has followed these trends), but now someone has carried it further, wearing ripped jeans in acid wash. The jeans worn by Rihanna and Kate Bosworth come from the J Brand collection: they are similar to Balmain jeans, but they’re cheaper and more casual, in my opinion.

Rihanna has chosen the 12” Pencil Leg Ripped Tie-Dye Skinny jeans in Zombie: these whiskered, beat up, ripped and bleached jeans shade from palest almost white grey to medium grey in a tie dye kind of look. Rihanna has completed the outfit with Christian Louboutin for Phillip Lim ankle boots, a white tank top, a sleeveless jacket and an electric blue shoulder bag.

Some months ago, Kate Bosworth wore the same style in Thrasher.

In this case, the tie-dying is more evident. Kate wore these ripped jeans with high-heeled pumps, a grey sweater, a red scarf, a grey suede shoulder bag and Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses. I like this outfit very much, because it’s modern and effortlessly chic.

I’ve never had a pair of ripped or tie-dyed jeans, so maybe now it’s time for me to let my inner rock chick speak, go out and buy a pair.

[1] My favourite flared jeans are by Zara, Indian Rose and Levi’s 479 Booty Flare.

[2] Kim Kardashian has jumped on the ripped jeans and denim jacket bandwagons, but she also loves flared jeans.

Source, source and source.



  1. I realise I still hate “double denim”! Even when I used to wear jacket+jeans, I wasn’t really convinced. 🙂

  2. Time to pick up the denim jacket from the wardrobe!
    Yep! I waited for this moment, for almost 10 years… I bought it 15 years ago to the levi’s store in LA, and now it can strike back!

    1. I’ve never stopped wearing my denim jacket, to be honest. Of course I’m not speaking of the one with batwing sleeves (omg, that was hideous), but of a simple, fitted dark blue denim jacket. I love wearing it in spring and summer.

  3. I used to wear double denim when I was 15, but always felt awkward in it..I wonder if I’d still feel the same!
    Acid wash jeans are huuuuge here in London, a girl in one of my classes often wears them, she has a slightly Eighties style. I steered away from them though, as I don’t think they’d suit me (I’m not exactly skinny so I tend to stick to dark denim!)
    OT: i just love those Balmain jackets and studded heels!

  4. I’d love to try these new ripped jeans in acid wash but I agree with you, because I know the styles that suit me best and ripped jeans are not among them.
    As for Balmain jackets, I think they look good on the runway (and on Victoria Beckham) only: those big shoulders are really dramatic and I suppose they’re not easy to pull off. On the other hand, I think the studded (or better, encrusted with rhinestones) heels are to die for ❤

  5. Ciao!,
    evidentemente,visto che sicuramente nn ti è sfuggita,tu non hai trovata Anna Dello Russo degna di nota in giacca Balmain,a me è piaciuta molto.
    In quanto a difficili ed importabili non sono da meno i Tye-Dyes jeans,effetto taglia/e in più assicurata,nel caso di Victoria le sue gambe sembrano avere quasi una circonferenza normale…


    1. Ho presente la giacca Balmain a cui ti riferisci (immagino sia questa), ma non ne ho parlato perchè l’argomento del post era un altro. Ad ogni modo, trovo che la giacca in se sia troppo decorata, le spalle troppo enfatizzate per i miei gusti; inoltre, penso renda ancora più severa e rigida la postura della Dello Russo.

  6. @ A. : A me e’ venuta subito in mente la Dello Russo quando ho letto la risposta di SQ al mio commento. Personalmente, a me non e’ piaciuta- trovo che la ‘squadrasse’ troppo (passatemi il termine), la preferisco con abiti dalla linea meno strutturata.

    1. Concordo in pieno! Si sa che la Dello Russo è una delle poche fortunate a stare bene più o meno con tutto (adoro come lei indossa abiti ed accessori da sera anche in pieno giorno), ma con questa giacca proprio no. A me piace molto quando indossa abiti o completi neri con dettagli bianchi (, ravvivandoli poi con accessori colorati o dorati. Ritengo che questo sia lo stile quotidiano che le dona maggiormente.

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