How To Wear Acid Wash Jeans

This denim trend is back, with an update.
Acid wash jeans with a tan jacket and animal print blouse.Getty

Acid wash denim was one of the most popular trend of the 1980s, with everyone from Cindy Crawford to Madonna stepping out in high rise bleached jeans and jackets. But the history of acid wash jeans actually goes back to 1960s surfer culture, when people in California used chlorine bleach to give a “sun-bleached” vibe to their denim.

The look evolved in the early 80s, when iconic American clothing brand Guess featured bleached jeans in their 1981 collection. From there, “acid wash”, “stonewash” and “bleached” denim has been made into everything from jeans to jackets, jumpsuits and even dresses.

It’s come in and out of fashion ever since. While it can sometimes seem a bit dated, there have been glimpses of acid wash jeans at the 2024 Paris Fashion Week, and on celebrities like Sophie Turner (as reported by People). So, here’s how to make this bleached denim look work for you.

Sophie Turner wearing acid wash style jeans in New York in late 2023.
(Credit: Getty)

6 Tips For Wearing Acid Wash Jeans

  1. Go for straight-cut jeans to modernise the look. This on-trend style of jeans is flattering and steers you away from the baggier stonewash jeans styles from the 80s and 90s.
  2. Or lean in to the wide jeans trend. Relaxed and wide-leg cuts came into fashion in 2023, so getting a pair that’s also acid washed is kind of a fresh take on both styles.
  3. Go dark with your denim. Darker styles of denim are trending right now, so a black acid wash style is one way to really stand out.
  4. Stand out with whiter bleached jean styles. A more modern take on acid wash is bleached jeans that are almost completely white (or a very light blue). Sometimes, you’ll also find a splash of darker colour, reminiscent of the first Guess splatter-styles.
  5. Think about the whole outfit. You could pair oversized boyfriend jeans with a cute cropped top and strappy heels for a feminine look. Or, add a long coat or blazer for a more sophisticated vibe. If acid wash feels like a bold choice, you could also opt for a monochromatic outfit for a stylish but relatively simple look.
  6. Shop around for the right acid wash style. Some bleached jeans are simply lighter in colouring, while others have natural patterning from the acid wash. So think about what style you like, and what will pair well with your current wardrobe.

The Best Acid Wash Jeans For 2024

Here’s our pick of acid wash, stonewashed and bleached jean styles you can shop now.

Stones Unisex Acid Wash Jeans.
Stones Unisex Acid Wash Jeans, $390 at Viktoria & Woods
Calli Straight Leg Jeans in Mid Blue Wash.
Calli Straight Leg Jeans, $109.95 from The Iconic
Courrèges sailor mid-rise wide-leg jeans, $1,000 at Net-A-Porter
Khaite Danielle high-rise straight-leg jeans in a light blue with acid wash undertones.
Khaite Danielle High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans, $810 from Net-A-Porter
Cotton On Super Baggy Jean in Palm Blue.
Super Baggy Jeans, $69.99 from Cotton On
Marant Étoile Heilani high-rise straight-leg cargo jeans in a light denim acid wash.
Marant Étoile Heilani High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans, $790 from Net-A-Porter
Ellsworth belted bleached low-rise straight-leg jeans.
Ellsworth belted bleached low-rise straight-leg jeans, $767 from Net-A-Porter

More Acid Wash Inspiration

If you want to go for an 80s throwback look or just want to check out how acid wash has been styles before, here we’ve rounded up some classic street style and celebrity looks.

Samantha Fox in acid wash denim in 1989.
Samantha Fox in acid wash denim in 1989.
Isabel Marant acid wash jean shorts and jacket on the runway in 2019.
Isabel Marant featured acid wash styles in their 2019 / 2020 collections.
Isabel Marant acid wash dress on the runway in 2019.
Isabel Marant S/S 2019.
Balmain Menswear Spring/Summer 2020.
This example from the Balmain Menswear Spring/Summer 2020 collection is a good example of the light blue signature wash, which has become a mainstay for high waisted and skinny leg jeans.
Kendall Jenner in acid wash jeans.
Kendall Jenner paired these blue jeans with a pale turtleneck.
Charlize Theron in bleached jeans in 2019.
Charlize Theron wore these bleached jeans in New York in 2019. (Credit: Getty)
Katie Perry in a head-to-toe acid wash outfit.
Katie Perry wore this acid wash jeans and jacket outfit in 2019. (Credit: Getty)
Sofia Richie in boyfriend jeans with an acid wash treatment.
Sofia Richie was in on the acid wash trend in 2017, pairing boyfriend jeans with a more structured grey checked top and strappy shoes for New York Fashion Week. (Credit: Getty)
This look embraces the acid wash trend with a matching set of jeans and jacket, layering a cream coat over the top.
This look really embraces the acid wash trend with matching jeans and a jacket, layered with a cream coat over the top. (Credit: Getty)
Loose ankle-length jeans with layering matching polo and an oversized jumper
Layering is a great way to wear acid wash denim without being overstated.(Credit: Getty)


If you have a pair of old denim laying around, you can create your own pair of acid washed denim at home with just few steps.

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