How To Stretch Vintage Denim

Lately I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect pair of jeans and was kind of surprised at how challenging this was. More specifically I was looking for a tailored straight leg silhouette that looks chic and feels comfortable. What I needed was a vintage-like pair of jeans.

I ordered two pairs of Levi’s (because where else does your mind go when looking for vintage jeans?) – one brand new pair from Aritzia and one lightly worn pair from So Over It Luxury Consignment.

The minute I pulled on the new pair my first thought was “what did people do before stretch denim?!” – seriously, these jeans fit like a glove size-wise but they felt so stiff and rigid I almost couldn’t walk properly.

I immediately started Googling how to stretch out vintage denim and honestly there wasn’t a ton out there that I was willing to try (vinegar bath…no thank you) so I put the call out to Instagram because I figured I’m not the first person to be crying over the lack of stretch in my new pair of perfect jeans.

It’s really as simple as putting them on and spraying water on the sections that feel tight.

A couple of tips when doing this:

  • First of all, grab a spray bottle with plain tap water
  • Spray only the sections that feel tight – seams, thighs, knees, calves…wherever you need it
  • Make sure they are soaking through, not just slightly damp
  • If a section fits you perfectly as is, leave it dry
  • Wear them and move around as much as possible until the jeans are completely dry all over

You can do this as many times as you think you need but after completing this process once I already noticed a huge difference. The fit is more relaxed and much more comfortable but I will admit I still cannot sit cross-legged on the floor (not that I need to that often…but I mean, I would like the option). But with time and consistent wear I know the fit will continue to get better and better.

I would recommend avoiding taking a vinegar bath in your brand new jeans not only because it sounds unpleasant but more so because you can’t control where your jeans will stretch. They may fit you perfectly in the calves but feel tight on the thighs and when you soak the entire jean it’s going to stretch everywhere.

And if you are wondering about the pair that I got on consignment – they fit like a glove! So if you want to skip all of the effort it takes to break in a pair of jeans, get someone else to do the work for you.


Photography by Joseph LaLeune




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