If there was a prize for the article of clothing that is most misunderstood by Indian parents, the nominees would be:

  • Shorts = “Why are you wearing underwear?”
  • Crop tops = “Why are you revealing how many rotis you ate at lunch?”
  • Sleeveless garments = “Why are you trying to lure boys with your bare arms?”

However, there is one more contender to this category that leaves all the aforementioned attire in the sartorial dust; a particular type of apparel that has plagued, confused and even infuriated our elders with its seemingly pointless design.

And the award goes to…

Ripped jeans!

Also unaffectionately referred to as:

  • “Those pants with holes in it.”
  • “Hole-y pants.”
  • “Jeans worn by a homeless person.”
  • “Pants fit for a hobo.”
  • “That tattered clothing that needs to be thrown out.”

“Those pants where you fell and scraped your knee open” (© Sunil George @ Bkk Portfolios)

I’ve never been able to put on a pair of ripped jeans or distressed denim 1) because my big toe keeps getting caught in the holes, but mostly 2) because it’s usually met with a sigh and comment to the effect of, “Why are you wearing torn clothing?” or “When are you returning those pants to the bum you stole them from?”

“But, but,” I say with exasperation, “Ripped jeans are edgy and add an air of laid-back toughness to an outfit!” Unfortunately parents hear that as: “Did we not raise you well enough so that you could afford to buy a pair of decent pants?” (If only they knew how much some designers charge for jeans that have a pre-worn look!)

Even invoking the environment doesn’t work; I could say that jeans that tear and fray naturally from being excessively worn is a sustainable means to recycle clothes. Again, parents take that as some sort of failure on their part in providing us with the best things possible.

It’s interesting that ripped jeans can evoke such an emotional reaction. Sure, it has its historical association with rocker and grunge movements, but it can also be viewed negatively in the context of one’s social status. That’s why it still sits on the inappropriate list for such locations as country clubs, workplaces, schools, at the wedding altar, or even on the golf course.

However it is completely appropriate for such instances as sitting on a motorcycle

However it is completely appropriate for such instances as sitting on a motorcycle (© Sunil George @ Bkk Portfolios)

On the other end of the spectrum, it has progressed far beyond its original anti-establishment image and found its way to the swanky legs of models, designers, celebrities, fashionistas, and not-so notable common folk like myself.

These jeans, in all its ripped glory, no longer make the same statement of social dissent that it used to. In fact, it has become mainstream, even expected to make a seasonal reemergence.

Therefore, I think the beauty of ripped jeans is that it serves as more of a styling challenge – a means to show how effortlessly and individualistically you can incorporate it into an outfit. It is the wearer’s responsibility to prove that it can be worn in an sophisticated and dressed up way. After all, this is an article of clothing that is deliberately dysfunctional and has a design that serves no purpose, except maybe to air out thighs our knees on a hot day.

Use it as way to contrast the formality of blazers; wear it to help minimize the stuffiness of a dress shirt; pair it with your craziest heels because, why not?

And if someone still tells you that you look like you should be rummaging through trash, don’t worry; you’ll look good doing it.

The amount I spend on bags and shoes may end up as the real reason I become homeless

The amount I spend on bags and shoes may end up as the real reason I become homeless (© Sunil George @ Bkk Portfolios)

All photos courtesy of Sunil George @ Bkk Portfolios

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