Pulling Off Double Denim
Double denim is the most controversial look in fashion. Also known as a Canadian tuxedo, this divisive outfit option has had its fair share of fans and detractors for the past 100 years. Double denim can be achingly cool for how hard it is to pull off or tragically bad for how easy it is to mess up. There is no middle ground.
Iconic double denim looks in the past 100 years
If you have a moment, Google ‘Steve McQueen double denim. The effortless style icon looks like he could belong on a ranch or walking the streets of a big city. The look is cool and put together. Google ‘Justin Timberlake double denim’ to experience the horror of the look that could be anyone’s go-to Halloween outfit. Another entry in the double denim patheon is Kayne West and Julia Fox’s debut as a couple for Paris Men's Fashion Week.
The reinvention of double denim
Fox made the look her own with sculptural elements via a cropped Schiaparelli jacket featuring conical detailing. She paired the double denim look with slouchy denim boots, a black leather handbag and gloves, statement gold earrings and bold eyeliner.
Prove your sartorial knowledge with double denim
Despite how polarizing the look is, burgeoning fashion icons can pull double denim off and prove their fashion chops. The secret to the look is how easy it actually is with a few guidelines to let double denim inspire your personal style.
Double denim is not a fashion crime
Like white heels and neon leg warmers, double denim is a pro-level move. The look started off belonging to the workwear category in the early 1900s. American machinists loved denim jumpsuits for their durability. Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe embraced the blue collar look in the 1950s. Marlon Brando, the king of tough cool, Steve McQueen and Ralph Lauren all experimented with the Canadian tuxedo.
The wrong approach to double denim
In the early 2000s, tastemakers and trendsetters took the look to new lows. Starting with Justin Timberlake, the look could now include head-to-toe denim with fedoras and bucket hats. This is beyond the wrong approach because the look only works if there is contrast.
Contrast is the secret to double denim
Aside from the glorious all-black exception, combining varying shades of denim makes this challenging look simple.
Men’s Guide to Double Denim
Defining high contrast
The best approach for double denim is a high-contrast one. In simple terms, opposing shades for the top and bottom create a crystal-clear distinction between two powerhouse denim items. A white denim jacket paired with raw denim jeans is non-traditional. The varying shades are so widely different yet complement each other’s texture and durability.
Insert a clash
Outside of France, the monochromatic outfit capital of the world, same color looks aren’t for everyone. Spice up a double denim outfit with a patterned tee to showcase bold personality. Use subtly striped t-shirts or boldly hued knitwear for winter. For even greater fashion clout, add a turtleneck.
Explore black denim
To work, denim shades should not be too closely matched. Leave head-to-toe stonewash and mid-washes alone. However, all-black looks are the exception. Black is a stealth hue that tones down denim’s signature texture so the look blends well instead of making a sweeping statement. Matching tones may make the wearer look like a cowboy.
Stay understated with tonal contrast
If all black feels a little too stark, add a subtle hint of tonal contrast. Dark grays in charcoal shades work well with black, bringing depth to your outfit while keeping things appropriately understated.
Understand tonal shifts
Double denim is all about mixing shades from the same or a different base color. All-blue looks can work if each shade is slightly different for a unique kind of double denim. Take a light wash shirt and pair it with a dark wash pant. The lightness of the shirt creates enough of a contrast and a focal point to make the outfit work.
Think nautical with blue and white
Double denim looks for men should be simple. Less is always more. Styling should take a minimalist approach for double denim to work. With just two colors at work, blue and white, there is enough of a style punch. There must be clear contrast between the top and the bottom to have a winner. Simple white sneakers will complete a blue and white look.
Blue and white is a solid approach for double denim minimalism. When in doubt, choose these two colors to pull off the most controversial fashion look.
Consider earth shades
Double denim wearers don’t always have to go to the dark side. Light colors can be a great go-to for double denim looks. Sand, cream, stone, off-white and light gray should be top choices for warmer months. Many men have plain white t-shirts that can be used as an anchor. A cream jacket and light gray jeans bring subtle color into the mono-texture look in a subtle way. Consider light jeans, a plain white tee and a raw denim jacket.
Go sharper with tees
If it is unavoidable to pair two denim pieces of the same hue together, make sure they are dark tones. Another element will be needed to provide sharp contrast. A bright white tee gives contrast to raw denim shirts and jeans. Or go dark with navy and charcoal for a sharper look. Black boots, like a Chelsea, bring the whole look together.
Women’s Guide to Double Denim
Women understand the secret to pulling off any fashion look is in the styling
Classic double denim harnesses the power of a perfect indigo wash and a straight-leg cut that is almost rigid. You might want to try a matching wash as a modern complement or go your own way. Pair an oversized light-wash denim jacket with a midi-length skirt and crown with a denim vest or button-down.
Create your double denim formula
Break up an all-denim look in unexpected ways. Create your own formula by starting with the piece you find to be the trickiest to use as your foundation. After you decide on your outfit’s focus, like a denim bralet or a jean collar, add in pieces like a white tee or sky-high heels to bring gravity to the look.
Go multi-dimensional with a denim bra
Choose a staple piece with a bra top and a classic pair of jeans. You can add to the look with a long shirt dress. Just make sure this is a summer or spring look to avoid being too cold.
Research selvedge denim
Selvedge denim is the preferred choice for those who love a historical touch to their outfits. The denim has self-finished fabric edges from the old-fashioned way of weaving the textured material. A coordinating top and bottom in heritage-inspired selvedge can trick the eye into thinking the outfit is a jumpsuit.
Be bold in a denim corset
Complement curves or body features with a denim corset. The perfectly structured street-style piece works perfectly with a bottom in matching, mismatching or contrasting tones.
Slip on a denim collar
Only a fashion maven can pull off a denim collar. The avant garde piece can be cut from jeans that are too tight or another source. Pair with a dark or light wash for the unexpected contrast that only comes from a great accessory.
Patchwork denim vest and jeans
Both pieces in this outfit feel inherently busy thanks to the patchwork, but when worn together, the look feels grounded.
White denim on white denim
Double white denim is an excellent way for minimalists to try out the trend. Fashinistas can pair theirs with a white tank and sandals for a deliciously monochromatic look.
Denim shorts and denim shirt
If you’re looking to bring the Canadian tuxedo into the summer, denim shorts are a great place to start. Try mixing black shorts with a chambray shirt for a casual yet put-together look.
Denim skirt and denim shirt
Yes, double denim works in skirt form, too. Pair a midi skirt with a contrasting hem with a cream denim top for a fun yet bold look.
Incorporate feminine touches
A double denim look can be heavy. Opt for a light and feminine touch with a cross-body bag, drop earrings, a lacey bralette or camisole. Roll up your denim sleeves to show off a statement bracelet or cocktail ring.
Skip dramatic touches
A Canadian tuxedo is hard enough to pull off as it is. If you add a cowboy boot or fedora, the look gets degraded. Keep feet a little bare with skin-colored ballet flats or no-heel sandals.
Tailor your cuts
Everything you wear should be altered. Legs should be slimmer to show off drool-worthy heels. Waists should be cinched to avoid using a belt. Darker hued denim worn on the lower half should be as slim as possible.
Key denim trends for 2022 and beyond
Designers are experimenting with and subverting America’s most iconic garment in droves. Jeans are now going back all the way to the 90s to enjoy a second wind. Classic gray washes are back in a range of fits for an authentically vintage feel.
Gray from back in the day
The revival of gray washes sees a looser fit and pale finish. Pay attention to the cut and color of the rest of the day’s outfit. Color block with hoodies and sweaters. Dark shoes add visual weight for bigger balance.
White is no longer optional
White is not just a summer color, although it does enhance any hint of a tan. These pale jeans go well with pieces in any wardrobe. Seek out off-white shades rather than stark ones for a classic look.
Think cropped for denim
Athleisure trends have trickled down into other pieces. Designers have been offering cropped styles to replace pinrolls for adding a new shape to any overall look. Use on the most rigid denim and pair with a Chelsea boot.
Denim perfect for dad
Everyone loves denim, including dads. The enduring men’s staple has had a few subtle tweaks to looser fits for an unfussy, normal look. Pair with boxy overshirts and color block tees. Looks are intentionally basic with dad denim.
Denim trends for women
Jean skirts are finally back from the 80s. There are also dresses and jumpsuits to rock. If you aren’t thrilled with the idea of being introduced to a multitude of new styles, stick with core classic styles that typically cycle through the trend phase.
Artcore jeans are fresh from Scandi
Hand-painted jeans came on the Instagram scene in 2020 and are just now being noticed in America. Don’t worry about your inner teen self coming out with a bedazzler, these jeans are more refined and elegant. Explore painted designs, motifs and simple embellishments.
Skinnies got fat
Skinny jeans are not going to have a revival anytime soon. Baggy and relaxed options are coming down the runway with a faded wash and low rise. Ultra-baggy looks are on the horizon and pair perfectly with a cropped shirt or jacket.
Be an Indigo Girl
Dark denim used to be considered formal. Now it is more embraced than light-wash looks. Discover rich, deep indigo hues for impeccable style.
Colored jeans are back
Many high schoolers in the 90s wore a rainbow of denim. To refine this throwback look, think hues of chocolate brown and delicate pink. Go maxi dress or skirt with a baby tee.
Discover unique elements
Abrasions, patchwork, and mending are back in style. Handwork and detailing should be celebrated, especially when fixing holes and tears. Seen more as a sustainability measure, it can also be fashion with well-mended pairs of jeans.
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