Yara Shahidi in Canadian Tuxedo Denim on Denim
May 29, 2024

5 Best Ways To Style A Canadian Tuxedo

Here are our favorite ways to style the look.

With denim on the carpet in Cannes, the idea that Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s Canadian Tuxedo was ever considered a “tacky” faux pas seems absurd. The fact that it’s on one of the glitziest carpets in the fashion world gives it an unofficial seal of approval, a last vestige of dress codes tossed off. The concept of the Canadian Tuxedo is incredibly simple: denim pants and denim jacket — et voilà, as they say in Cannes. 

The birth of this mythical fashion faux pas was, fittingly, a faux-pas. Bing Crosby, famed Christmas crooner and ‘50s mega-star, was a fan of the city of Vancouver. In 1951, he visited for a hunting trip; when he checked into the Hotel Vancouver, they didn’t let him in, as he was wearing a denim-on-denim Levi’s look. How gauche!

Eventually, they let Crosby have a room, but the gaffe was a marketing boon for Levi’s, who swiftly crafted an entire campaign around the mixup and created a bespoke suit for Crosby. They called it, you guessed it, the “Canadian Tuxedo.”

Image / Splash News

Oh, the Denim You’ll Wear

That was 70 years ago. The textile industry has come a long way since then and the Canadian Tuxedo has been a taboo embraced anew for the last few decades over and over again. A Google search will show you similarly titled reclamations of the denim-on-denim look from 2014, 2017, 2022, etc. What does the public need to shake off the feeling that there’s something wrong with wearing denim-on-denim in a traditionally formal setting? No one wants to call it what it is: another textile to manipulate.

Still afraid to walk away from your trusty denim button-down and boot-cut jeans? Don’t be. Denim can easily be considered a neutral, and its unique structure allows it to hold many flattering silhouettes. Taking a cue from some recent denim ensembles, here are the most up-to-date sure bets on wearing denim-on-denim:

Stick to One Color

Wearing a monochromatic palette is a shortcut to looking chic and put-together. Here, it affords denim a sleek gravitas. In fact, most high-fashion denim looks are monochromatic. It’s a balance for high fashion’s common wild tailoring and, without any funky shapes to an outfit, it ends up looking just classic. 

Image / Elden Ordonez

Show Some Skin

To visually break up a heavy fabric like denim, many celebs have opted to show some midriff. Not only is it, well, attractive, it’s also a good way to keep your waistline looking as slim as possible. Plus, denim is the counterculture fabric of the ‘50s — and what would the counterculture be without a little rebellious skin showing? In Cannes, Abbey Lee Kershaw took a low-rise approach, which some of us dread the comeback of. With her baggy jeans spilling over her pointed-toe mules, it has a luxurious yet casual vibe. It’s a very “just grabbed my keys, slipped on my shoes” approach.

Play with Canadian Tuxedo Proportion

For those daring enough to dabble in the avant-garde, a bit of extra fabric here and cuts there make for an interesting way into the all-denim ensemble. At Cannes, Yseult wore a buttoned-up denim jacket — and what can only be a callback to the JNCO jean trend of the Y2K era in a gray-blue wash. She even popped the collar up to hide her neck and chin. Overall, it gave the impression of someone really, really cold, but also of someone so cool they didn’t need to wear a denim look cinched at the waist or hugging their thighs. Rihanna’s famed denim shift dress and pants combo is another effortlessly cool way to style denim.

Reinvent Old Silhouettes

If you’re a fan of more classic shapes and tailoring, then maybe it’s time for a denim redux of some of your favorite shapes. Anne Hathaway wore a denim gown to the most recent CFDA Awards, complete with denim bustier and train. Of course, bustier crop tops and denim corsets have been on the scene for a few years, and bring a sleek feel to this historically blue-collar material. All sorts of possibilities are imaginable: why not a denim tutu layered like tulle? Why not a denim skirt suit? 

Image / Getty Images

We’re Done Reclaiming Denim

It’s time to call denim what it is: a neutral fabric. It’s now joined the ranks of cotton, linen, and wool. It’s long since earned its spot in “the basics,” capsule wardrobes, and iconic best-dressed lists. Denim’s versatility has surpassed its original iteration and can now be as light and airy and heavy and thick — just take your pick. It ranges from bleached white to inky black. Why wouldn’t it be possible to wear a Canadian Tuxedo without any shame? It’s the uniform of such a wide range of people — from workers to office people to movie stars to moms and dads running after kids — that, in fact, it’s possibly the one thing we can all agree on. Maybe there really is no other outfit that so perfectly encapsulates the modern fashion enthusiast. 

So step into your 501s, zip up your True Religion, and show off your Japanese raws. It’s time to grab a matching denim shirt or jacket, show up, show off, and stop pretending it’s anything close to being a faux pas.

Claire Stemen

Claire is a writer based in Seoul but originally from Cleveland, a very decent city. She is a fashion and beauty writer who got her start almost a decade ago at Paris and New York fashion weeks, where she covered shows, designers, and trends. The greatest sadness of her career was when she had to give her seat for the Jacquemus Spring 2017 show to someone else because she wasn't in town. She is also a published fiction writer, which is why she's so dramatic about everything.

Her work seeks to draw out the hidden functions of beauty and fashion—and what that says about culture. She believes the act of dressing oneself goes beyond mere expression and that the act of selecting a sock, earring, or lipstick is rife with meaning. She’s especially interested in the academic definition of “dress”.

Claire wakes up every day excited to experiment with beauty, fashion, and her sense of self. Her black cat Heathcliff wakes up excited to exact vengeance like his namesake in "Wuthering Heights".

If something she wrote made you feel something, you can direct your hot takes, fiery opinions, lukewarm criticism, and otherwise to The Territorie's comment section, her Instagram @claire_stemen, or via email at claire at clairestemen dot com.

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