My very own 'Canadian Tuxedo'
Most people have some pretty strong feelings towards double denim, otherwise known as a ‘Canadian Tuxedo’. You either love it, or you hate it. Personally, double denim to me will always conjure up memories of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the 2001 American Music Awards. Decked out, head to toe in their finest denim. But double denim doesn’t always have to be so… dare I say… tacky.
The fabric denim comes originally from India, where it was originally known as dungaree. Denim gained popularity in the late 1800s in the US, when a tailor from Nevada started using the fabric to create sturdy work clothing for farmers. After starting up a joint effort with Levi Strauss Co. due to increased demand, they managed to spread denim trousers across America. In the 1960s and 1970s the blue jean really took off and Levi’s jeans became the thing to wear. So now we’re in the 21st century and it looks like popularity of jeans will never go away. But how do you take the humble jean and make it fashionable? Which fashion faux-pas do you avoid? Is double denim really so bad?
Well, denim can come in all sorts of different textures and colours and can be as versatile as you like. For basics, I would always say have a few different colours and cuts to mix and match with various t-shirts and shirts. But what about doubling it up? I would always suggest avoiding two fabrics of the same colour and texture – instead, try mixing darker colours, like dark blue and black. Also, look at the textures. Dappled and stressed fabric can change the way the denim sits and looks. Play around and see what everything looks like together. Just avoid denim accessories if you’re planning on doing double denim. I think triple denim MAY be a bit too much.
In a recent shoot with photographer Marc Hayden and stylist Emma Lightbown, we tried our own take on denim’s classic cool. Pairing different colour and textures, the denim worked extremely well as a double combo and with leather. Sporting leather Chelsea boots and leather jackets on varying colours harkened back to that rugged, Americana look. I had a great day in Hampstead shooting with these two and inspired me to buy more denim!
But why, oh why is double denim referred to as a ‘Canadian Tuxedo’? Well, apparently back in the 1950s singer Bing Crosby was almost denied entry to a fancy hotel in the Canadian city of Vancouver because he was decked out in denim from head to toe. They eventually let him in, but the news of the incident travelled quite quickly. Eventually, even Levi Strauss heard about it. As a response, Strauss created a fully denim tuxedo for Bing to wear to any establishment, regardless of how nice the place was so that he could wear denim and fit in anywhere. And thus the term ‘Canadian Tuxedo’ was born.