• UO DIY: Customize Your Denim Jacket

    There are so many denim jackets out there — it's important to make yours special. Whether it's with paint or dye, we're creating a denim jacket look that's all our own.
    Photos by Melissa Anne Tilley

    To start, decide what you want to do with your jacket. We tried 3 different customizations: painted lettering, dip dye, and DIY destruction. Here's what we used:

    -acrylic paints
    -fabric spray paint
    -letter stencils
    -bucket (for dye)
    -RIT dye
    -rubber bands (for dyeing)
    -sandpaper, fine and coarse grit

    For our first jacket, we decided to do some lettering on the back. We used our stencils to spell out what we wanted to say and then, once they were firmly taped down, we used a mix of brushed on acrylic paint and spray paint to stencil them on.

    When you're using stencils, make sure that they're backed on cardboard otherwise they can be a little too flimsy to work with. (For example, if printing a stencil off the internet, grab an Exacto knife and back your printout on cardboard.)

    Once we had our letters stenciled on, we used a clean brush to splatter on some pink paint for that homemade '80s touch.

    If you'd like to customize your jacket with dye, pick out a color that you know will work with your jacket. (Obviously if your jacket is super dark, you'll want to go with bleach instead of dye.) When you're dyeing a smaller portion of your jacket, you may not need to use the whole container, but just follow the instructions on the bottle to make sure that your dye is the right potency for whatever you're dyeing.

    To dye small sections of your jacket, use rubberbands to section them off and then dip them into your dye. You can also brush the dye on for a different effect, but make sure that it's not too light and has penetrated the fabric fully otherwise it will show up very faintly after your fabric has been rinsed.

    After you've dyed the chosen sections of your jacket, rinse the entire thing in cold water to get rid of any excess dye. Once your jacket has been washed, tumble dry on high heat to help set the dye. If you're worried about your jacket shrinking, dry on high for 5-10 minutes and then let air dry.

    If you're feeling less crafty, the easiest way to make a jacket unique is by using sandpaper to create frays and holes. (The coarser the sandpaper grit, the more damage it will do. If you're just looking to make certain areas feel softer, a finer grit rubbed onto the fabric for a while will soften up the fabric without creating a hole.)

    After you've sanded the jacket to your liking (we recommend the collar, cuffs, and edges), pin on some favorite buttons to further make it special. Add on more pins as you go and live your best denim life.

    Shop Denim Jackets