Throwback Friday: Acid wash jeans

Acid wash jeans: an idea whose time has passed. Like, really. We may have donned a pair and admired their faux-distressed look, but they point to a distinctly bizarre era of fashion. For a process that made so many articles of clothing look so ridiculous, the acid wash was pretty well thought out, involving chlorine and pumice stones (only die-hard slaves of fashion need apply!). The pumice stones were soaked in chlorine, then the denim clothing (jeans, jean jacket, vest, etc) could be doused with some spritzes of the chemical, then scrubbed with the bleachy stone, or put into a machine to wash with the bleachy stones to achieve that crazed, porous pattern. This process stripped the top layer of denim of its blue color, making it white and allowing the colored threads underneath to show through for that…”look.” Acid wash on blue denim was bad enough, but the process was done to jeans of all colors. And it was best if you had a matching jacket.

The full acid wash shebang

The acid wash didn’t really die in the early ’90s. It’s still here and what’s changed, of course, are the articles of clothing. It is often more subtle today, as the chemicals have shorter contact with the clothing, allowing for a more nuanced pattern. But you can still find bold patterns achieved by deliberate manipulation of the lightening chemicals, which can look nice on a modern cut of pant, such as these skinny jeans here by denim company YMI:

Acid wash skinny jeans from YMI

But don’t you even think of putting on a pair if they’re anything like this pair I’m sporting here–baggy, high-waisted, sewn-in cloth belt, seams all over. It may be of interest to the reader that I’m sporting a New Kids on the Block t-shirt (de rigueur at the time) along with that self-satisfied expression on my face. What did I know, anyway? So tell me…did you wear them proudly in the 80s and 90s? I won’t judge you 😉

My jeans of yesteryear.


  • Anthony Kimber

    February 25, 2011

    Do I see the telltale sign of an elastic waistband, Diva? Had several pairs, and wore them till the patches patches had holes. Were they ever comfortable….Sigh! When one jacket would die, I’d just cut off the sleeves, and make me a Billy-bob biker vest!

    • sunnyglobaldiva

      February 25, 2011

      Oh dear. YES, how could I forget–look at that ridiculous elastic waistband!!! Somehow, I’m not surprised at all about your abundant use and recycling of your fabulous denim pieces 😉 I’d pay to see pics of that vest……


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