Beginners’ Denim Glossary

Whether you buy denim online or in real life, chances are the jean jargon can get a little intimidating. There are so many connoisseurs to denim who explain the features of a pair of jeans as though it were a glass of wine or gourmet coffee. For those of us who can’t tell the difference between a cup of  freshly brewed Colombian from a cup of reheated in the microwave Sumatra, there’s hope!

Really, there are only a few terms that you’ll come across a when actually shopping for denim so don’t get intimidated by some of the more intensive denim guides, we’ll get to that later. But for now, this is what you really need to know…

Denim Glossary

  • 5 pocket styling – You’re really familiar with this style… two pockets in back, two in front, and one tiny pocket for coins or miscellany.
  • Distressing– Process to make jeans look ‘worn in,’ , ie. holes, shredding, sandblasting, fraying, bleaching, etc.
  • Inseam- Measurement of the seam along the inside of the pant leg, generally used to describe the length of the jeans.
  • Hand- The way denim feels to the touch, is it soft? coarse?
  • Laundry– Place where unwashed denim is taken to be processed, most often sandblasted, washed, dyed etc.
  • Rinse Denim– Unwashed and unprocessed denim yet, put through a single rinse before selling. This is usually the strongest denim.
  • Rise-The measurement from the crotch to the top of the waistband.
  • Premium Denim– It’s not just the price tag, premium jeans are most often made from Japanese or Italian denim, with higher quality cotton, contains at least 2% stretch fibers and are crafted to fit the human body with more detail than lower grade denim.
  • Selvage- This type of denim has been produced on vintage looms, the edge has been woven in a way that will not unravel (think your cut off jeans). The selvage is typically on the outseam seam of the jean.
  • Wash- The color and texture of a denim produced by the washing process
  • Wiskering– Fading of denim in lines around the crotch and back of the knees to appear worn in.

Image by pinksherbet / CC BY 2.0



  1. Kezia
    May 24, 2010 / 4:25 pm

    Helpful! Do you have a fit guide too? 🙂

  2. August 7, 2012 / 7:27 am

    i need denim washing process details

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