Swathe that fragile male ego in something soft and bulletproof, and get those angry lil fingers ready for the comments section, because Highsnobiety is about to go in on a new column full of women’s opinions on your man styles.

The item in question this week is the mystifying, drop-dead polarizing ripped jean. Always an unusual choice of garb that comes with so many questions: are your knees really the asset you’re most interested in showing off? How much did you pay to look like the victim of a ride-on lawnmower hit and run? If they ripped through wear, why does the same logic of replacing them that applies to every other garment not apply here? Aren’t you cold? How long until you cut them off above the knee and force us to write another article?

Speaking of questions, I did ask some other people what kind of feelings men in ripped jeans conjure for them, just in case I was on my own here.

A mental note: I extended my question to all humans who’re attracted to men, because inclusivity is important, knowledge is power and I think heaps of women remained silent because their mans was listening.

“When I see someone with ripped jeans I hope they fall on a pile of broken glass and rip themselves up,” was an actual response.

SPOT / AKM - GSI

“Well, I guess they need something to match their pre-washed Metallica/Joy Division/Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon/Guns & Roses/KISS band T-shirt,” the responder continued, with ironic sympathy. “Oh, and don’t forget to buy those brand new pristine white (or bright red) sneakers to finish the look *grabs an MCM-studded backpack on the way to the counter*.” Obviously triggered.

Another person sent me a screenshot of the dictionary definition of pity, which lead to someone naming them the MVP of the thread. An award well-deserved, IMHO.

Hold the phone, though. We’ve got some new opinions: “Pre-ripped designer jeans = blah. Jeans someone has worn until they start to tear/rip = respect.” A valid point.

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Enter Highsnobiety staff writers and editors with their opinions:

“I don’t have particularly strong feelings about men in ripped jeans,” says Stephanie. “I do tend to think of a certain era of fashion though – specifically the ’90s, which inevitably leads to visions of bedazzled and distressed denim in the style of True Religion, Robin Jeans and Ed Hardy. These days most of the men I see in distressed or ripped denim tend to favor much more subtle styles, but that’s probably just a reflection of a different time.”

“When I think of men in ripped jeans, I think of Kurt Cobain and a fresh-faced Keanu Reeves in Point Break; a strong ’90s look, combined with flannel for a classic grunge aesthetic,” Fern added. “But my mind then immediately jumps to Jersey Shore, and the hyper-distressed, star-spangled Ed Hardy and True Religion monstrosities worn by the likes of a man happy to be referred to as ‘The Situation.’ Their UK equivalents from Geordie Shore and TOWIE are also guilty of giving ripped jeans a bad name, combining ripped jeans that are as tight as women’s activewear with a hyper skinny fit, no doubt to point out that they haven’t been skipping leg day.”

Just Jared

“In short,” she continues, “skinny jeans for men, much like denim as a whole, have had a hell of an up and down ride. I find myself agreeing with this GQ guide to ripped jeans: the less likely the hole, shred or scrape is to have been created organically through actual wear and tear, the less ok it is. I suspect very few men have been able to catch a woman’s eye by exposing his thighs in a haphazard manner.”

So, is there a right way to wear shredded denim? Maybe. Dee Dee Ramone and his friends looked great in ripped jeans. But he also looked great in jeans ripped entirely into shorts, and with no jeans on at all. And with his questionable transition into hip-hip as Dee Dee “Funky Man” King, perhaps his notions of taste and aesthetics make this argument redundant.

What about Kanye? A style icon to many, he has been seen wearing a number of ripped jeans, including a pair by Saint Laurent that set him back nearly $600.

He sure looks happy with his damaged goods, but I can’t help but feel my pulse appearing behind my left eyeball.

Once again feeling like this bodily response was one unique to myself, I was relieved to notice I wasn’t alone when apparent denim historian Dr JJ commented on a recent article we produced about distressed denim:

“I wore ripped jeans in the 1980s. What you did was buy some shrink-to-fit Levi’s 501s. Made in the USA, Cone Mills denim. Wear them for about six months, non-stop, fucking everywhere, pub, park, parties, lecture theatre, laboratory, whatever. Then shrink the bastards in the bath. Then continue to wear them to disintegration. No one bought jeans with the holes already there….ffs.”

Juelz Santana IG

In summation: if you’re wearing ripped jeans because they ripped during some grand display of physical activity and you don’t really care to replace them, then you also probably don’t care what women think of your outfit or, at the very least, don’t want to hang around women who care about your outfit.

And, if you’re wearing ripped jeans because you paid for them, you’re a dingus.

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those solely of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole.

Now check out this summer’s most hyped items.

  • Words: Hayley Morgan
  • Lead image: Will Nichols / Highsnobiety
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