We tried the viral hack to make too-tight jeans fit

We tried the viral hack to make too-tight jeans fit
Taking off too-tight, sopping-wet jeans post-shower was nearly impossible

Not unlike others of my generation, I have recently found myself influenced by the countless TikTok reviews praising Abercrombie & Fitch’s rebranding, specifically when it comes to jeans.

According to the younger generation, and my fellow millennial TikTok users, the clothing retailer has come a long way from its moose-branded, pastel-coloured polos to the staple for denim it is today.

Unfortunately for me, the new popularity of Abercrombie jeans means it can be hard to order your size on the brand’s website before it sells out – so, I recently did what many people regrettably do when jean-shopping, I bought a size I knew would be slightly too tight.

When my order came in, as expected, the black high-waisted straight leg jeans were too small in the waist, meaning I could button them, but I wasn’t able to do much more than take shuffling steps, nor would I ever be able to sit in the pants.

The realisation, although not surprising, was disappointing, as I had hoped to wear the jeans to a birthday dinner that Saturday. However, as the meal would consist of a feast of Chinese food, it seemed likely I’d have to rethink the outfit planned in my head.

That is until I was influenced by another viral TikTok from Lily Schoknecht, who goes by the username @bug318_ on the app, and who had recently shared her grandmother’s hack for getting jeans that were too tight to fit.

According to Schoknecht, who had herself recently purchased a pair of size-10 second-hand jeans that were too small, her grandmother had bizarrely asked if she had showered in them yet.

“She was like: ‘Have you showered in them yet?’ and I was like: ‘What? No, I haven’t showered in my jeans. What are you talking about?” Schoknecht said in the video. According to Schoknecht, her grandmother had urged her to shower in the denim, and then wear the pants around the house before letting them air-dry, with the TikToker noting that the hack was one her nana had allegedly used when she was growing up.

To the disbelief of Schoknecht, and millions of viewers, the trick worked. “I took a shower, and this morning I put them on after air-drying and they fit perfect,” Schoknecht said as she showed off her pants, which were now, unfathomably, the right size.

On an app filled with influencers promising their suggestions will be life-changing, the claim didn’t seem too promising, especially considering I’d spent years afraid to wash my jeans in a washing machine for fear of them shrinking.

However, after spending, admittedly, more than a few hours thinking about Schoknecht’s video, I convinced myself the hack was worth a try if, for nothing else, an interesting story.

I was then faced with the logistics of the project. While I knew Schoknecht had made a few follow-up videos about various methods, I decided to follow her grandmother’s original advice and simply shower with my jeans on – rather than other options such as sitting in the tub while wearing the constrictive pants.

My attempt was going to coincide with my hair-washing schedule, however, which meant I was faced with a unique problem – did I shower and wash my hair before drying myself, putting on the jeans, and doing the whole process again with my jeans on, or did I just wash my hair while standing in the sopping-wet jeans, and hope that the shampoo and conditioner didn’t impact the results in any way.

After consulting friends, who didn’t provide any useful advice one way or the other, I ultimately decided I would just shower once that night, and that my brand-new jeans would also get a shampoo and conditioner wash. Confident in my decision, it was time to, slowly due to the restrictiveness of the jeans, step into the shower.

It would be a lie not to admit my immediate first thoughts were ones of regret, as standing in the too-tight, soaking-wet jeans was one of the most uncomfortable positions I’ve found myself in in recent memory.

My situation worsened when I recalled I was supposed to be stretching out the jeans while I showered in them, at which point I began to do squats and tried to raise my knees to my chest.

In addition to contributing to the horrible feel of wet denim sticking to my body, the movement also meant my jeans filled with bubbles of water. I was miserable.

However, as I was already too deep into my attempt at that point, and still needed to wash my hair, I reaffirmed my commitment to the experiment and stood in the warm shower for an additional eight minutes.

By the time I’d finished washing and conditioning my hair, I was even more miserable. But, I also realised my jeans were noticeably looser in the waist and thighs.

The realisation was met with elation as I held out hope it would all be worth it, and that I would be able to wear my birthday outfit after all.

Unfortunately, after shutting off the water, I realised the end of my experiment was still a ways away, as I now had to navigate how best to handle standing in my bathroom in soaking-wet jeans, which I was also meant to continue wearing.

I briefly considered remaining in my bathroom during the drying period, but ended up venturing into my apartment to continue doing lunges.

While working on stretching out the jeans, I also continued to pull at the tight waistband so it wouldn’t revert back to its previous size.

After a few minutes of stretches, during which I dragged a considerable amount of water through my apartment, I decided to place a few towels on my bed and lie down, as I figured that would still be better than taking the jeans off before they had finished forming to my body.

The solution lasted for roughly 30 minutes, during which time I was still regretting my situation, but hopeful. I had nailed it, and would have perfectly fitting jeans just like Schoknecht, and her grandma before her.

Interestingly, it wasn’t until I eventually decided I had had enough of wearing wet jeans, and felt confident that I’d stretched them enough to make wearing them in public possible, that I found myself faced with one of the hardest parts of the saga – getting the still-very-wet jeans off.

While the denim was noticeably looser in my waist, the pants were still very tight on my legs, which meant freeing myself from the wet jeans required serious strength. It may sound dramatic, but my wrist hurt for a day from the exertion required to pull the pants off of my legs.

Once I’d finally kicked them off, I stared at the mound of crumpled jeans on my floor angrily for a few moments, during which I also felt renewed annoyance over my choice to try the hack at all.

I eventually pulled myself together and hung the pants to dry. By the next afternoon, after they’d completely air-dried, the pants fit perfectly.

Although I’d never heard Schoknecht’s grandmother’s advice before, it turns out it’s a well-known trick used by Levi’s head designer Paul O’Neill, who told GQ in 2015 that he likes to bathe in his jeans for the best fit.

“First, I buy my jeans correct size in the waist (rather than size down) and a little longer in length (one or two inches). Then, I’ll wear them for a few days before climbing into a warm bath in them and soak for 20 minutes. Once soaking is over, I slip out of the jeans and let them dry in the sun. This shrinks the jeans to your body shape,” he told the outlet, adding: “Because you were wearing them while shrinking them, they should not shrink smaller than your waist. I tend to check them when nearly dry and put them back on and stretch the waist out by squatting in them if needed.”

Levi’s CEO Charles “Chip” Bergh also recommends showering in your jeans, as he previously told The Washington Post that it’s an alternative to washing the denim by hand – or ever using a washing machine.

“Don’t put them in the washing machine, don’t destroy them, don’t put them in the dryer. Wash them by hand. Or hop in the shower with them on and soak them down and rinse them off – I do that too,” he admitted, before jokingly acknowledging how bizarre the concept is.

“It’s probably going to go on my tombstone when I die. Nobody’s ever going to remember what I did for the business – they’re just going to remember me for that crazy quote,” he added of his advice.

Ultimately, despite the 45 minutes of awfulness, I too would recommend the hack, as it’s a sustainable way to revive jeans that could fit perfectly, and it left me with one of my best-fitting pairs of jeans. However, be prepared for a terribly uncomfortable experience along the way.