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Style Advice

The dos and don'ts of double denim

The dos and don'ts of double denim

Double denim has long been a divisive subject, but worn with consideration it can be a cool, laid-back style statement. You already know that denim has universal appeal as a fabric that is hard-wearing and works in all seasons. The problem with wearing it head to toe, known as double denim (or the Canadian tuxedo), is that it can sometimes be  too much of a good thing. But don’t let its bad reputation put you off. Double denim is a favourite with Thread stylists, as well as some of the best dressed celebrities.

We’re not suggesting you take inspiration from a red state rodeo and go for a full blue denim three-piece. Instead, look to an off-duty David Beckham or Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for how to pull off the look with ease. Still not convinced? These simple dos and don’ts of double denim should clear things up.

Do: mix washes

A simple rule of thumb when combining denims is to keep the washes at least two shades apart. The reason classic mid-wash denim tends to turn double denim outfits into cowboy-style overkill is because it’s the hardest shade to keep your other pieces two tones apart from. Instead, pair dark and light shades, and bring white and black denim into the mix for a safer take on the look.

Do: vary your textures

Double denim doesn’t have to be all thick, workwear-style fabric. Introduce new textures, like a chambray shirt under a denim jacket and pair with relaxed trousers, or a lighter jacket with raw denim jeans. Sticking to heavier fabrics on the bottom tends to be more flattering for most body types.

Do: go for mid-fits

If you want to do double denim the justice it deserves, then get the fit right and go for something that falls in the middle. Both skinny and baggy jeans are tough to pull off as it is, without the added challenge of doubling up the denim at the same time. Instead, reign it in and go for a slim fit on the bottom and pair with a boxy jacket, or relaxed jeans with a more fitted top or jacket.

Don’t: get caught up in the blues

Combining colour is an important aspect of double denim, but if that still feels too daring, move away from all-blue tones and try a black jacket with dark-wash jeans, or a mid-wash jacket with black jeans. Denim and dark colours are two timeless combinations, so pairing the two easy-to-wear styles is a reliable choice. Break up the look with a lighter t-shirt or jumper.

Don’t: try to smarten it up

As a fabric rooted in workwear, denim is casual by nature. Doubling it up might feel more pulled-together, but it’s still very much a laid-back look that should be worn with other relaxed items, for example a denim jacket and jeans with a plain white tee, rather than a smart white Oxford shirt. 

Don’t: overthink it

Instead of letting double denim get you down, stick to classic pieces, like Levis 511s and a relaxed-fit jacket in contrasting dark and light shades, and avoid any unnecessary details. Rips, zips, and other fashion-over-function elements will complicate your look, and draw attention away from the cool style statement you’re already making.

Words: Ella White
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Millie Rich
Styling assistant: Toby Standing