We all like a history lesson right? Well it’s probably just youthful enthusiasm, so I’ll keep it short. Way back in the 1850s, a customer of a dry goods business owned by a certain Levi Strauss purchased some rugged durable denim cloth. Jacob Davis sought to replace his hole-ridden woolen trousers, and subsequently made jeans, before striking a deal with Mr Strauss that saw them become partners. The rest as they say, is history.
Until recently, denim has been almost strictly synonymous with jeans. However, the reinvention of denim has given outerwear, shirts and blazers a new lease of life. The more choice, the better right? Well not always, so we’re here to set you straight. After all, denim is here to stay – quite literally of course.
I’m sure you’ll agree that shunning denim jeans in favor of shorts is a sensible decision for the summer months, and anyway, you can wear jeans with almost anything so that’s not much fun to write about. That said, the same applies for denim shorts.
Quickly then: denim shorts will look great with a t-shirt, provided the colors complement each other, making the white tee a safe be; polo shirts will work well, though matching their formality to one another is advised. A heavy cotton twill with a rugged denim pair of shorts will look better than a fine cotton polo with no placket and no buttons. The best thing about denim shorts is how readily available they are. Just cut up an old or vintage pair of good denim jeans, cuff them, and voila.
As the menswear game has shifted back to a casual aesthetic, favoring a more practical approach to dressing, the denim shirt has become increasingly popular. A mid-blue denim shirt, with two breast pockets and a couple of buttons undone, nails the cliché, and in essence there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to have a big chest and a tanned complexion, embrace it. Ralph Lauren still looks killer at 90 or whatever.
In the interest of making you look your best, I’m going to stray from denim and wingman its more refined sister, chambray. In a lightweight, gauzy weave, chambray is a brilliant fabric for casual shirts that separate themselves from the monotony of oxford cloth and poplin cotton shirts. Better still, some chambray shirts with a tighter weave can be worn as dress shirts. Picture this: unlined double breasted blazer, chambray shirt, knitted tie, casual brown belt, stonewash jeans, no socks and loafers. Copy this, and knock ’em dead.
Denim Trucker Jacket
The denim trucker is a menswear classic, and should be a perennial player in your wardrobe. Heavy, rugged denim is of course in-line with the fabric’s origin, but a mid-weight denim means you can wear it pretty much all year round. You can throw a silk/linen henley underneath it in summer, or layer it up with a coat and scarf in the winter.
Just like jeans, the fit of your denim jacket is crucial to its aesthetic. If it’s very snug, it prevents you from being able to stylishly layer both underneath and on top of the jacket. If it is too loose, it looks sloppy and prevents you from being able to throw a blazer or coat over the top. Crucially, make sure the jacket is not too long and fits you well across the shoulders to get the most use out of it. A good tailor can take the armhole higher and nip the waist in.
Double Denim (Canadian Tuxedo)
Also known as the Canadian Tuxedo, double denim has often been the first on the list of fashion faux pax’s in years gone by. For many, Justin Timberlake is the scapegoat for all that is wrong with wearing denim on denim [link]. Yet from the catwalk to the sidewalk, fashionistas everywhere have breathed new life into a previously passé outfit.
The trick is simple; you must vary the shade of color between top and bottom. Don’t forget, not all denim is blue! Mixing up the type of denim on top and bottom creates a clever contrast that saves the outfit from becoming too one-dimensional. For example, if you are wearing stonewash jeans, then a selvedge jacket is a good choice. Introducing a tactile dynamic is vital in ensuring double denim can be your durable and sartorial go-to outfit.