It is what it is: Frayed around the edges

Who knew I was so stylish?

Here I’ve been thinking that my shirts and pants with the frayed cuffs and collars were just wearing out. But as it turns out, I’m in the height of fashion. Apparently, people are paying a lot of money to have their brand-new garments “distressed,” using techniques that involve sandpaper and even blowtorches.

At the risk of sounding like my father, what on earth would want to do that for?

I grew up in the 1980s, and I remember my dad saying the same thing when acid-washed jeans were all the rage (“totally awesome” is what we called it back then). That was usually followed by some grumbling about paying for something that was already worn out — and me going to school in crisp, dark blue jeans.

In fact, I think the only one of my siblings who got to wear the “worn-out” look was my little brother — and that’s just because he got hand-me-downs from three other kids.

I remember doing my best to get those jeans to look a little worn out. Boy Scout camping trips were especially helpful as they provided an opportunity to use a variety of blades — from pocket knives to axes — as well as flammable substances. It seems like every member of the troop was able to get his hands on a disposable lighter for, you know, “emergency wilderness survival” situations.

My current wardrobe, however, has not been deliberately distressed. It just gets worn out, and when I shop for clothes, I find myself thinking, “I used to be able to get three shirts for that price!” — another thing I think I used to hear my dad say.

The irony is that, these days, I much prefer to wear new, unfrayed clothes. Even if I’m just doing chores around the house, I don’t like to wear ripped old jeans — nice and faded, yes, but with holes in them, no thanks.

Maybe it’s time to clean out my closet, but instead of donating old clothes to charity, I should sell them on eBay. Heck, I’ve even got a drawer full of “vintage” T-shirts I could throw in — though most of those are in “like-new” condition. It seems you get to a certain point in life, and you just don’t wear T-shirts that much, but you still keep acquiring them. I think I’ve got one from the first or second Run for the River, back when the race and Kenai River Festival were in Kenai. Any takers?

I suppose I’ve been fortunate that my own kids haven’t gotten into the distressed look themselves; rolling out of bed in the morning is distress enough. My daughter’s preferred ensemble is a hoodie and skinny jeans which, so far, do not include rips. My son goes with a T-shirt, preferably featuring a comic book logo, paired with athletic shorts, regardless of the time of year. When an occasion calls for ratty old clothes, he tends to “borrow” mine. In fact, he recently spent an afternoon clearing brush in a pair of pants that i regularly wear to the office — I guess they were frayed enough that he must’ve figured they were fair game. That situation has turned out to be OK, though, because it means I get a new, unripped pair of pants when the old ones don’t return.

I’m thinking maybe I should take those garment-distressing skills learned around the campfire and put them to use by starting my own business. Of all the life skills learned through scouting, who knew that one could be so valuable?

And with the prices people are willing to pay for new clothes that look used, I could get all the new clothes that look new that my heart desires.

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at

More in Life

Rory Funk and Oshie Broussard rehearse “Marion, or the True Tale of Robin Hood” at the Kenai Art Center on Thursday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Shooting through the status quo

Treefort Theatre retells Robin Hood tale with a twist

Poster for 2nd Annual Indigenous Language Film Festival. (Provided by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Indigenous Education Progam)
Indigenous language film fest returns with 16 submissions

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Indigenous Education Program hosted its Second Annual Indigenous Language Film Festival on Thursday

A copy of Tom Kizzia’s “Cold Mountain Path” rests on a table on Thursday in Juneau. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Off the Shelf: Ghosts come alive in Kizzia’s ‘Cold Mountain Path’

From boomtown to abandoned, the town of McCarthy sets the stage for a compelling narrative

Minister’s Message: Ending Well

I have a deep sense of sorrow, when I see someone not ending life well because they ignored living a life of faith or by failing in integrity or in faithfulness

Floyd “Pappy” Keeler, standing in 1951 in front of his cabin on the homestead of his son Jack, is holding a girl who is likely Barbara Sandstrom, while her sister Rhoda, standing by a truck, looks on. Ray Sandstrom photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 7

Speculation was rife after the younger brother of Floyd Nelson Keeler went missing

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Perspective

To prefer one thing over another does not make the unpreferred bad, or unhealthy, or criminal, it just means you have found something better for you

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling.
A light meal to fuel fun family outings

This French onion frittata is delicious and not too filling

Christ Lutheran Church Pastor Meredith Harber displays necklaces featuring the cross in this undated photo. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Interwoven together for good

I hope that we can find that we have more in common than we realize

Virgil Dahler photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive
This aerial view from about 1950 shows Jack Keeler’s home on his homestead east of Soldotna. The stream to the left is Soldotna Creek, and the bridge across the stream probably allowed early access to the Mackey Lakes area. The road to the right edge of the photo leads to the Sterling Highway.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 6

“Most of those homesteaders won’t last”

Most Read