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How-To: Getting the Most Out of Your Denim

Denim deserves a cameo on date night, too. Here’s how to take an everyday part of your uniform and make it something special. 

Stylist Sarah Clary shares a few of her favorite tips for buying and dressing up denim.

Vintage made easy

If scouring flea markets or thrift stores for that perfect pair of non-stretch, worn-in Levi’s 501s circa the ’80s feels a bit too time-consuming, stores like The Vintage Twin in New York and Mister Freedom in Los Angeles will do the heavy-lifting for you. At The Vintage Twin, its stock of Lee, Wrangler and Levi’s is next-level: There are piles and piles of carefully chosen denim at your fingertips. The store will help you find your perfect fit — virtually for now — and make sure it’s distressed to your liking, a service it also offers for a new pair of jeans, for a fee. If you’re a fan of A.P.C. jeans, its Butler Program allows you to trade a well-loved pair for a new one, at half the price. The A.P.C. team then takes the broken-in pair, washes it, makes any necessary tweaks, and marks it with the previous owner’s initials before reselling. 

Pay attention to material, and wash

Wash and texture is most important, particularly when it comes to vintage denim. Always look for 100 percent cotton. A little fading goes a long way and gives denim character. As tempting as it is, try to stay away from denim with too much stretch. 

Take denim out of its comfort zone

A special piece, like a frilly top or sequined skirt, feels different and a little less fancy when it’s paired with denim. Don’t be afraid to put a chambray shirt under an embellished top, or to pair a jean jacket with a sequined skirt. Denim can be sexy or tomboy or grunge; it just comes down to how you style it. 

Canadian tuxedo aren’t for everyone

The key to pulling off a Canadian tuxedo is gradation. You’ll want to stay away from anything too matchy. Not a fan? That’s alright. It’s not for everyone. Try a denim jumpsuit, which feels go-out ready when paired with a heel and a red lip.

Want to see more? Watch Stylish with Jenna Lyons on HBO Max.