The Canadian tuxedo first made international waves when Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake donned matching patchwork denim ensembles at the American Music Awards together more than two decades ago — but Canadians have been wearing double denim in significantly less fancy situations for much longer than that.
The Canadian tuxedo might sound formal if you’ve never heard the term before, but it’s actually about as comfy and casual as one can get. It refers to wearing denim bottoms and a denim top at the same time, and it’s about as Canadian as any outfit can be.
“I’m a definite fan of the Canadian tuxedo. It’s an amazing style decision if you pull it off in the right way,” explains Michelle Bareid, founder of fashion and beauty at Lace Wig Advisor. “Not everyone realizes that it takes a little effort to make the denim tux look fashionable and not like a costume.”
Start at the bottom
A good fit is a solid starting point to pull this off. The bottoms can fit however you’d typically style your jeans: Skinny jeans, slim fit, mom jeans and even a denim skirt can pull together a cute Canadian tuxedo.
Lee Women’s Slimming Fit Rebound Skinny Leg Jean (starting at $35.66; amazon.ca)
“Remember that you can also switch up your denim colors for a different effect,” explains Tara Dupuis, fashion stylist and founder of Tara Dupuis LLC. “Think all black for a fall look, all white for spring or even try colored denim if you’re feeling committed to a seasonal color.”
Levi’s Women’s High-Rise Decon Iconic Skirt (starting at $54.99; amazon.ca)
A denim skirt paired with a lighter weave button-down shirt offers a contemporary take on the classic Canadian tuxedo. This high-rise skirt by Levi’s offers just the right amount of distressing while still holding its shape well enough to be worn to a weekday dinner or a casual gathering.
Levi’s Women’s Premium Ribcage Straight Ankle Jeans (starting at $71.23; amazon.ca)
Looking for a more modern fit? This straight ankle jean is a great way to venture into the more trendy denim territory. High-rise waist: check. Loose fit: check. Flared bottoms: check. Consider these your go-to pants for weekend brunch or running around the city in style.
Calvin Klein Men’s Straight Fit Jeans (starting at $29.32; amazon.ca)
These classic fit Calvin Klein jeans make for the ideal first step in completing your Canadian tuxedo look. Not only are they a super-dark wash without much distressing, they actually do have a slight bit of fading, which will open you up to more options when selecting the top to your tuxedo.
Nudie Jeans Men’s Skinny Lin Rinse Selvage (starting at $245.27; amazon.ca)
The selvage power stretch within these organic cotton Nudie jeans will completely change the way you look at denim. Not only are they wildly comfortable, but also, the pre-rinsed material doesn’t need to be washed nearly as often as most types of jeans.
Tommy Hilfiger Men’s THD Slim Fit Jeans (starting at $48.47; amazon.ca)
Looking for a more laid-back fit? These slim fit jeans by Tommy Hilfiger will do just fine. The relaxed cotton make allows for a more breathable fit, but they still look super polished. You can easily wear these to semiformal events with friends or into the office on casual Friday — just throw on a blazer.
Make your way to the top
For a top, opt for either a denim button-down, jacket or both. To keep the look truly classic, the top should have more of a snug fit, and consider leaving your top button undone.
Levi’s Women’s Original Trucker Jacket (starting at $49.37; amazon.ca)
“I always steer clients to 100% cotton when possible, but if you want a bit of stretch in your garment a jacket with a cotton blend is fine, but keep the cotton percentage on the higher end of the scale,” says Dupuis. “Keeping the fiber content as close as you can to 100% cotton helps give the classic look to these garments — especially when styling a Canadian tuxedo.”
Levi’s Women’s Ultimate Western Shirt (starting at $46.35; amazon.ca)
This Western-inspired button-down shirt from Levi’s is going to be one of the most versatile pieces in your closet, denim-wise. The lightweight shirt can easily be tucked into your jeans or a skirt, left hanging loose or tied in the centre for a more casual look.
Zilcremo Women’s Denim Shirtdress (starting at $38.99; amazon.ca)
Here’s a little trick for making your Canadian tuxedo look as streamlined as possible: Invest in a denim dress! This denim shirtdress from Zilcremo is long enough to wear as a stand-alone dress — but can also be paired with some bicycle tights or high-waisted denim jeans for a more feminine take on the tux.
Levi’s Men’s Standard Barstow Denim Western ($51.35; amazon.ca)
The Levi’s Men’s Denim Western is a must-have in any closet (whether you’re going for a Canadian tuxedo or not). The casual button-down shirt features easy-snap pockets and a loose fit that is supremely comfortable while still offering a bit of structure to your overall look. Consider it a happy medium between a well-worn dress shirt and your favorite tee.
Levi’s Men’s Short-Sleeve Button-Up (starting at $41.89; amazon.ca)
A short-sleeve button-up will be your best bet if you’re hoping to layer on a denim jacket to complete your look. The shorter length will allow for a much better fit in the arm without having to worry about your sleeves riding up around the elbows by midday.
Lee Men’s Denim Jacket (starting at $55.99; amazon.ca)
The best denim jackets should be no-frills: machine-washable with button closures and a handful of deep pockets. The Lee Men’s Denim Jacket checks all the right boxes while also offering a wide variety of colorways to suit your particular style.
“You can wear mismatched denim shades or mix and match colors, such as a blue jacket with black jeans,” explains Dupuis. “It is a good idea to have enough contrast between your top and bottom pieces so that they are easy to distinguish as separate pieces.” If you do plan to mix more than one or two shades of denim, consider adding an extra layer or some denim accessories to pull together the ombre effect.
Skechers Women’s Go Walk Lite Boat Shoe ($61.89; amazon.ca)
A casual pair of denim shoes will pull together just about any Canadian tuxedo look, but they’ll look particularly great if you’re pairing them with a dress, skirt or denim shorts. These boat shoes in particular come in a more muted denim tone, which makes them an excellent option for finishing off a denim-heavy look.
Withmoons Denim Beret Hat ($33.92; amazon.ca)
Canadian tuxedos are meant to be cheeky, so you may as well fully commit! This denim beret hat by Withmoons shows that you know and appreciate the level of whimsy you’re leaning into, and, well, it’s also just very cute.
Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Vaughn Fashion Sneaker (starting at $72.82; amazon.ca)
The Polo Ralph Lauren brand is well known for its sophisticated finishings, and these denim sneakers are no exception. You don’t have to worry about overdoing it on the denim, as the leather laces and accents promise to pull everything together in one neat little package.
Angie Wood Creations Diagonal Plaid Zebrawood Bow Tie With Grey Denim Centre ($22.99; amazon.ca)
Planning on wearing your Canadian tuxedo to a real-life formal event? Barn weddings and other outdoor gatherings can sometimes call for more casual attire, and a denim-on-denim look might be in order. Consider topping it all off with a zebrawood bow tie — the mixed materials will break up the all-denim aesthetic without taking away from the effect.