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Acid Wash Jeans: Why We Love Them (And How to Wear Them)

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When I bought gray acid wash jeans a few years ago, I already had a complete outfit in mind. Along with a slouchy tee, motorcycle jacket and Converse sneakers, I planned to wear them the same way heavy metal bands did in 1986: with lots of attitude (but maybe less hairspray).

Then my style veered a little more towards the preppy, and I bagged those jeans up, intent on dropping them off at a thrift store. Thankfully I'm a borderline hoarder with a non-funny procrastination habit, because I never followed through. And now I'm pretty happy about it.

With my more ladylike staples—pointy-toe stilettos, cable knit sweaters, button down blouses and structured handbags—those acid wash jeans make a fresh alternative to more traditional pants.

Mixing them into clean, polished outfits (like Elle Machperson's, at left) gives acid wash a crisp makeover. And in a way, that's even more subversive and surprising than any studded, ripped and shredded ensemble could be.

I've started to love wearing my acid wash jeans in unconventional ways (especially with really pretty pumps, simple makeup and a prim sweater) and might even buy a second pair. These six are at the top of my list:

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