Dare to Denim

Tracing back to the 17th century, denim is one of the oldest fabrics in the world. Throughout the years, it has been used for just about everything from upholstery to flags of rebellion. Today, denim is most prevalent in the fashion world. Denim jeans, invented by Levi Strauss in 1873, are typically the essential denim wardrobe piece. Jeans are necessary to a modern wardrobe because they provide a comfortable yet stylish look and go with just about anything—even other denim pieces. Denim on denim is considered a fatal fashion mistake by some. Sometimes referred to as a “Canadian Tuxedo,” the idea of pairing a denim top and pants, no matter the hues, causes some to cringe. But in fashion, “mistakes” can actually be quite stylish. Contrary to popular belief, there are ways to wear denim on denim without looking ridiculous.

The main key to wearing denim on denim is pairing different washes. The combination of different washes ensures that you’ll avoid an overload like the iconic outfits of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the 2001 American Music Awards. While their early 2000s attire was certainly a fashion statement, avoiding matching shades of denim in daily life is typically for the best. A great way to do this is to opt for a darker wash paired with a light wash, such as pairing dark jeans and a light jean jacket.

Pairing denim shirts and pants is not entirely out of the question. Denim chambray shirts are a wardrobe essential for many. Kim K rocks these shirts paired with denim jeans. Breaking up the shades of denim with accessories also helps tone down the outfit; a belt can be a great way to separate a top from a bottom. However, for a more subtle look, colored denim is also a great way to incorporate more of this fabric into your wardrobe, and black denim pants paired with a denim shirt creates a chic everyday outfit.

Jean shorts, or “jorts,” are staples of most spring and summer outfits. No matter the style—high waisted, distressed, etc—denim shorts also pair well with other denim items. For festival season, a blue denim fanny pack is the perfect accessory. It can be easily included in your wardrobe and paired with black denim shorts.

Denim accessories including purses or bags may seem intimidating, but it’s easier to include a denim bag than you may think. For everyday wear, a denim backpack can be paired with contrasting shades. The simple accessory adds just the right amount of denim without being overwhelming. And then there are denim shoes—yes, they exist. Denim sneakers by brands such as Vans and Converse, can add a special touch to any outfit. Though denim shoes may sound like a total fashion disaster waiting to happen, when paired with the right outfit they can build a look. Simply toss a jean jacket over a skirt or dress for a casual look.

Denim skirts are back in style this spring. Button down a-line style skirts as well as basic mini-skirts are perfect pieces for a trendy spring/summer wardrobe. Pair a denim mini-skirt with a different shade denim jacket or other denim accessories. If you want to up your use of this style without worrying about mixing clothing items you can also incorporate a colorblock jean skirt that features multiple shades of denim into your wardrobe.

If you’re still afraid of denim on denim, a great solution is jean overalls. Overalls are a great fool-proof way to up the denim in your wardrobe without risk. Denim overalls vary in styles like overall pants, shorts, or dresses. They range in colors and shades and can be layered over a basic solid colored shirt or a patterned top. Overalls are possibly the simplest way to rock a full denim outfit.

While matching denim washes is only for the daring, at the end of the day do what you want and wear what makes you comfortable. Your fashion is your choice. It's all about the attitude. If you believe you can rock denim on denim, then you can!

Photo by Ebrima Manjang