Why Painting Your Jeans Is the Best Fashion DIY Ever (Seriously!) — And How to Do It

Break out the brushes.


Works of art. | Photos (from left): We the People, Rialto Jean Project, my own pair of Jeantrix denim.

I’m not a big jeans person, which is probably why I’m having such a field day this season. Instead of basic baby blues, designers are amping up their denim with hand-painted artwork — splatters, stars, squiggles, florals.

But this isn’t a totally new trend: The guys over at Jeantrix have been custom-painting their denim for years — big, bold splashes of paint that transform old pairs into wearable graffiti (like these! J’adore). I own these Jeantrix handpainted shorts and they have long been my summer go-to: cooler than cargos, and immeasurably better than the short denim standard (yawn).

Denim-as-canvas can also be a cool DIY trick to have up your sleeve, and it’s a lot easier than it seems. Here are some guidelines, tips and tricks, along with a heaping dose of inspiration. Take your time, consider exactly what you want (a tidy scene or abstract finger-painting?) and work slowly.

Ready to break out the brushes? Here we go:

For People Who Have Never Picked Up a Paint Brush: Start with splatter. Here’s how to copy J.Crew’s 2013 splatter pairs. (No, they’re not out of style!)

For Those Who Want an ‘Aww’ Factor: Go all Kimye and enlist your kids to help with the painting. Better yet: Let them paint their own pair next to you. Best. Mom. Ever.

For Beginners: See those stars above? Here’s how to create your own pair of star-studded denim.

For a Challenge: More accomplished artistes can try this palm print.

For Pros: Want to go freehand? Head here for inspiration.

For Those Who’d Rather Buy Than DIY: I suggest these gorgeous hand-painted jeans by the Rialto Jean Project. They’re really more like pieces of art. Find more Rialto styles here.