How To Lighten Jeans Or Your Denim Jacket

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How To Lighten Jeans Or Fade A Denim Jacket – Instructions

Denim jackets are one of the best light-weight jacket options for womens summer wardrobes. Sometimes they can take a little breaking in to look effortlessly chic, like you’ve just thrown it on as you walked out the door on the way to world domination . If you’re not a fan of a stiff dark denim jacket, in this post I’ll teach you how to lighten jeans or fade a denim jacket- and wear it like an effortless bitch. Obvs.

There are two ways you can make your denim jacket look lighter and distressed. One method will significantly lighten your jacket with the use of bleach. The second method will lightly fade your jacket using general washing techniques.

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How To Lighten Jeans Or Fade A Denim Jacket With Bleach:

What You’ll Need:

  • Bleach
  • Water
  • A Plastic Bucket
  • Disposable Gloves
Warning: Do not use bleach on denim and elastic mix jackets. The bleach will ruin the elastic.
how to lighten jeans or jacket two outfit options


1. Fill a small bucket with one part bleach to five parts warm water.

2. Put on your gloves and place your jacket in the bucket. Make sure the water and bleach mixture completely covers the jacket. If it’s not covering the jacket it will have patches of light and dark fabric.

3. Leave the jacket immersed for three minutes for a subtle fade, if you would like it to be lighter, leave the jacket in the mixture longer until it’s the colour you’re wanting.

4. Remove the jacket and empty the bucket, refilling it with water and submerging the jacket. Use your hands to move the jacket around in the bucket to remove any bleach residue.

5. Put your jacket in your washing machine on a cold wash, add some laundry detergent and hang out to dry when complete. If you do not wish for your jacket to fade further do not dry it in the sun.

Bitch Tip: If you would like to give your jacket a tie dye look, use elastic bands where you would like less fading and complete the above five steps.

How To Lighten Jeans Or A Denim Jacket By Washing It:

What You’ll Need:

  • Washing detergent
  • Hot water


1. Put your jacket in your washing machine on the hottest cycle as hot water will help garments fade faster.

how to wash a denim jacket

2. Once washed, hang your jacket in direct sunlight to dry. Turn the jacket from front to back while drying so that you can get an even fade across the fabric.

3. Repeat this process until you have the desired look.

Bitch Tip: Washing denim in hot water can shrink the garment so only wash your denim for small periods of time and stretch the garment out after each wash.

How To Age / Rip Your Jacket:

There are many ways to age and rip your jacket to make it look like a vintage jacket. You can use any of the following methods to help you:

Scalpel & Knife: Use a scalpel to make small cuts where you would like a rip to appear. Then use your knife to scrape lengthways against the grain of the fabric to fray and scuff the fabric.

Sandpaper: If you would like to lighten the fabric in certain areas like along the cuffs or collar, rubbing some sandpaper will help to soften the fabric and lighten it at the same time.

A Cheese/Nutmeg Grater: A cheese or nutmeg grater can scuff denim and wear down the fabric, making it look lighter and depending on the force used, can rip the fabric.

Bitch Tip: Make sure you place a cutting board between the fabric you are ageing, you don’t want to cut through the entire jacket when just focusing on one area.

If You’re Super-Duper Organised: You can get some inspiration from pinterest so you can plan where you want to rip and scuff your jacket. I would recommend trying on the garment as you go, this is especially helpful if you plan to rip or fade in areas like the elbows – or if you plan to fade your denim jeans, in the knee area.

Bitch Tip: If you consider yourself a lover of DIYs, remember that you can do this to your denim jeans too.

If you haven’t got a denim jacket I’m certainly not going to leave you hanging on what type you should buy to suit your shape, so I’ve laid that out for you below.

Athletic/Rectagular or Top Heavy: Hip Length Jacket

Hourglass, Pear or Rounded Shape: Above The Hip Length Jacket

If you need a little visual help, this tutorial is fab:

Disclaimer: That Effortless Bitch will not be responsible for the results of bleaching or washing your raw denim from the instructions provided in the ‘How To Lighten Jeans Or Denim Jacket‘ article. Any actions taken in fading your denim is the risk and responsibility of the owner.


Owner / Blogger / Stylist

Alarna Hope is a Fashion Stylist and Writer based in Sydney, she's considered an expert in her field as a Personal Stylist and is also quite good at writing about herself in the third person. She cries during movie makeover scenes, has a jar of Nutella under her bed for safety, and can tell you the synopsis of every Kath & Kim episode ever. She currently resides in Sydney with her Oscar worthy cat, Meryl Streep.

    1. If it’s actual denim and not just a denim-look top, certainly. Just be mindful of any elastic or other coloured details on the garment. If it’s a plain denim shirt, it should work well and should only be immersed for short periods of time and rinsed before putting in the washing machine.

      Goodluck, Gorgeous! x

  1. A lot of people are interested to buy jeans and I am sure your tips will help them a lot. I think its a must read. Great idea for sharing!

    1. Hey Harry, yes it does. Black will fade a lot faster than blue so I’d recommend you go slow with your fading. Just check also that your black denim hasn’t got a high elastic component, as some of these methods won’t work well with elastic. You’re best to wash and dry in the sun to let it fade if you only want a little fading. 🙂

    1. Hello Lacey, I wouldn’t recommend the bleach method as this will damage the sherpa. Try the general wash and fading in the sun instead, it will take a little longer but it won’t damage the sherpa the way bleach would. X Enjoy!

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