The all-denim look has had its ups (Bing Crosby’s glorious “Canadian Tuxedo” of 1951) and its downs (Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears at the 2001 American Music Awards). But for years, head-to-toe denim was deemed more sloppy than chic.
Now, doubling down on denim is seeing a resurgence and no longer necessarily falls under the realm of sartorial slipup. Masters of street style (such as blogger Julie Sarinana of Sincerely, Jules) and design (like Ralph Lauren, who showed two tailored denim suits in his men’s spring-to-summer 2015 collection) are proving that there is indeed a right way to work this trend. Want to try it yourself? Here are three foolproof tips:
1. Fit is key. Denim-on-denim looks good when the pairing appears intentional, not thrown-together: Your top and jeans should both fit nicely and feature tailored details. Nix frowsy mom-jeans or sloppily fitted button-downs, which will only make you look as if you’ve pulled pieces randomly off the floor.
2. Watch the wash. Take a pass on light-colored or acid-washed denim, which can be tricky to pull off (you’re more likely to miss than not). Dark denim will look much more polished with much less thought; just skip denim with contrast seaming, which feels outmoded. Mix washes to break up the “suit” effect—try jeans in a medium wash with a dark chambray top, or vice versa.
3. Dress up the details. Accessories can make or break double denim. Avoid anything that skews “retro” or “western,” so you don’t look like you’re wearing a costume (which means that brown leather bags and boots, while classic in many cases, are a no-no). Sleek, modern accessories offer enough contrast to do the trick: Think pointy, single-soled pumps in patent nude or metallics, and statement cuffs or necklaces.