The Canadian Tuxedo: The Denim on Denim Style Icon

The Fashionisto

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Updated February 8, 2024

Canadian Tuxedo Double Denim MenPin
Learn more about the Canadian Tuxedo, the iconic denim-on-denim outfit.

The Canadian tuxedo, once a symbol of sartorial rebellion, has transcended its humble denim origins to become a cherished staple in the wardrobe of the fashion-forward man. This ensemble, characterized by its denim-on-denim bravado, navigates the fine line between casual comfort and statement-making flair.

Born from a tale as intriguing as its aesthetic—featuring none other than Bing Crosby and a hotel’s initial refusal to accommodate his denim-clad appearance—it embodies a narrative of transformation and acceptance. Today, it stands not just as clothing but as a canvas for personal expression, blending the ruggedness of denim with the finesse of modern tailoring.

The Canadian Tuxedo Decoded

The Canadian tuxedo, a style celebrated for its versatility and rugged elegance, is built around essential denim components:

Jacket & Jeans: The Core Ensemble

A classic Canadian tuxedo consists of a denim jacket and jeans.Pin
A classic Canadian tuxedo consists of a denim jacket and jeans. Photo: Philip Messmann / H&M

The pairing of a denim jacket with jeans is at the heart of the Canadian tuxedo. This foundation sets the tone for the entire outfit, with variations in wash, color, and texture offering endless possibilities for personalization.

The key is to find a balance—contrasting light and dark washes can add depth while matching hues offer a cohesive, streamlined appearance. Attention to fit is crucial; a well-fitted jacket and jeans can elevate the look from casual to chic.

Shirts & T-shirts: Layering Basics

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The iconic white T-shirt goes great with a denim jacket and jeans. Photo: s.Oliver

Underneath the denim jacket, the choice of shirt or T-shirt plays a significant role in defining the outfit’s vibe. A crisp, white button-down shirt lends a touch of sophistication, making the ensemble suitable for smarter occasions.

Wear a denim shirt with your Canadian tuxedo for a triple-style threat. Conversely, a graphic or plain T-shirt keeps things laid-back, perfect for everyday wear. The layering piece can also introduce color and texture, adding dimension to the monochromatic denim.

Accessories: The Finishing Touches

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Finish your denim outfit with a classic accessory like the leather belt. Photo: Simon Miller

Accessories are where the Canadian tuxedo truly becomes a canvas for expression. Belts can cinch the look together, while sunglasses and scarves add layers of personality.

Jewelry, like necklaces, offers a chance to infuse individual style, whether through subtle elegance or bold statements. These fashion accessories complement the denim and reflect the wearer’s character and preferences.

Footwear: Grounding the Look

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Shoes like the Clarks Wallabee can be transformative for a double-denim look. Photo: Gap

The right shoes can transform the Canadian tuxedo, tailoring it to the occasion. Pairing denim with slip-on shoes or sneakers strikes a balance between casual and stylish. Sandals, conversely, are a segue into summer, offering a breezy complement to the denim ensemble.

The aim is to match your footwear to the denim and the seasonal context, ensuring your look is cohesive.

Styling for Different Occasions

The Canadian tuxedo’s versatility makes it a staple for any wardrobe, adaptable to various settings with just a few styling tweaks. Here’s how to curate the look for different occasions:

Casual Wear

For casual wear, a simple tee pairs perfectly with a denim jacket and jeans.Pin
A simple tee pairs perfectly with a denim jacket and jeans for casual wear. Photo: Reserved

The Canadian tuxedo shines in its simplicity for a day out or a casual meeting. Pair your denim jacket and jeans with a plain or graphic T-shirt to keep the vibe laid-back. Minimal accessories like a leather band watch or a simple necklace add a personal touch.

Elevated Casual

Dress up your denim jacket with a crisp white collared shirt. Pin
Dress up your denim jacket with a crisp white collared shirt. Photo: Michał Alex Piotrowski / Levi’s

When you want a polished look without venturing into formal territory, elevate your Canadian tuxedo with a crisp shirt. A light-colored button-down under a denim jacket and darker jeans creates a visually appealing contrast.

Add a pair of leather shoes or sleek sneakers to balance casual and refined. Accessories like a belt, statement watch, or sophisticated sunglasses can enhance the outfit’s elegance.

Red Carpet & Celebrity Influence

Denim Blazer Men Current / ElliottPin
Make a bold statement in a denim blazer. Photo: Current / Elliott

The Canadian tuxedo has also found its place in more glamorous settings, thanks to its adoption by celebrities on the red carpet. To achieve this elevated look, opt for a denim blazer and tailored jeans, ensuring a perfect fit.

A high-quality, well-fitted T-shirt or a luxurious shirt underneath can add a layer of sophistication. To mirror the star-studded style, complete the ensemble with designer footwear and select fashion accessories like a standout watch or an elegant scarf.

Adopting the Canadian Tuxedo for Each Season

The Canadian tuxedo, with its foundational elements of denim jacket and jeans, presents a canvas that adapts beautifully across the seasons. Here’s how to tailor this iconic ensemble to reflect the essence of each season:

Spring

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Embrace spring with a pop of color, courtesy of a collared shirt or t-shirt. Photo: Wrangler

Spring calls for layering to navigate its unpredictable weather. Opt for mid-weight denim to keep you warm during cooler mornings and evenings. A pastel or brightly colored shirt underneath your denim jacket can spark spring vibrancy.

Footwear like loafers or canvas sneakers complements the season’s transitional nature. Accessorize with a lightweight scarf for chilly days and stylish sunglasses for sunnier moments.

Summer

Calvin Klein Unbleached Denim Jacket MenPin
Head into summer with light-colored denim, ranging from off-white to stone washes. Photo: Calvin Klein

Summer outfits prioritize breathability and comfort. Choose lighter washes and thinner denim materials to combat the heat.

Pair your denim with Birkenstocks or other open-toed sandals to fully embrace the summer vibe. A breathable, light-colored, or linen shirt will keep you cool.

Sunglasses are essential for sun protection and transcend their role as a fashion accessory. Pairing them with a lightweight, stylish hat shields you from the sun’s rays.

Fall

Tackle layering for autumn with flannel shirts, hoodies, zippered knits, and more.Pin
Tackle layering for autumn with flannel shirts, hoodies, zippered knits, and more. Photo: Polina Vinogradova / Jack & Jones

Fall introduces a cooler palette and the opportunity to experiment with layers. Darker denim washes reflect the season’s mood, paired with boots that withstand variable weather.

Introduce textured layers, such as a hoodie or flannel shirt under the denim jacket, for added warmth and visual interest. Accessories like beanies and wool scarves can provide warmth and style as the temperature drops.

Winter

Pepe Jeans Fall Winter 2023 Campaign 001Pin
Transition your denim into the colder months by layering it with a coat. Photo: Raul Córdoba / Pepe Jeans

Winter demands warmth and durability from fashion choices. Layer your Canadian tuxedo with a warm coat or a wool sweater underneath the denim jacket. Consider insulated denim or adding a denim vest over your layers for extra warmth.

Swap out casual footwear for insulated boots that offer protection and style. Winter accessories like thick scarves, gloves, and beanies are essential for combating the cold while maintaining your fashion-forward look.

The History & Evolution of the Canadian Tuxedo

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Bing Crosby and Levi’s made history with the first Canadian tuxedo. Photos: Levi’s

The journey of the Canadian tuxedo from a quirky fashion anecdote to a recognized style statement is a fascinating tale of cultural evolution and celebrity influence. The term traces back to an incident involving Bing Crosby in 1951 when the iconic singer was almost denied entry to a Canadian hotel because he was dressed entirely in denim.

This event caught the attention of Levi Strauss & Co., which led to the creation of a custom denim tuxedo jacket for Crosby. The jacket symbolized the breaking of formal dress codes and the embrace of denim in all settings. This moment marked the beginning of the Canadian tuxedo’s integration into popular culture, but it was not without its critics.

For years, the all-denim ensemble was seen as a fashion faux pas, relegated to casual and workwear. However, the tides began to turn in the late 20th century, thanks partly to music and film stars like Marvin Gaye and, later, Justin Timberlake, who confidently donned denim-on-denim, showcasing its versatility and style.

Designer Tuxedo

Valentino offers its unique designer take on double denim as part of its spring-summer 2024 collection.Pin
Valentino offers its unique designer take on double denim as part of its spring-summer 2024 collection. Photo: Valentino

As the Canadian tuxedo began to shed its controversial reputation, fashion designers and luxury brands took note. Labels like Dior Men, Givenchy, Isabel Marant, and Acne Studios have incorporated denim into their collections, elevating the material with high-quality textiles, innovative designs, and bespoke tailoring.

The fashion show runways of cities from Paris to New York have featured the Canadian tuxedo, highlighting its adaptability to trends, seasons, and individual styles. The influence of celebrities and the fashion industry has transformed the Canadian tuxedo into a symbol of self-expression and rebellion against traditional fashion norms.

What was once considered a breach of etiquette is now celebrated on red carpets and city streets. Today, the Canadian tuxedo is more than just a combination of denim jacket and jeans; it is a cultural icon, reflecting the evolution of fashion from rigid standards to a more inclusive and diverse understanding of style.


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