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The Canadian tuxedo: Expert tips on how to wear the double-denim look

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TORONTO - Katy Perry and Riff Raff were feeling the blues on the red carpet at the recent MTV Video Music Awards, generating big buzz with their perfectly paired all-denim designer getups.

The Versace creations worn by the pop superstar and her rapper date channelled the tandem blue-jean styles famously worn by Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake more than a decade ago: Perry in a strapless, studded patchwork gown, and her partner in a matching jacket and distressed jeans.

While donning denim-on-denim — also known as the Canadian tuxedo — has previously been dismissed as a fashion faux pas, trendsetters like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Kanye West have joined countless others within and beyond the glare of the style spotlight who've embraced the ensemble.

For its recent spring-summer collection, Levi's Vintage Clothing reproduced a limited-edition run of the famed denim tuxedo jacket created for Bing Crosby. In fact, the origins of the Canadian tuxedo have been linked to the late American entertainer.

According to Levi's, Crosby and his friend were denied entry into a Canadian hotel in 1951 because the duo was dressed entirely in denim. While hotel management recognized Crosby and made an exception, word of the incident spread. Levi's created a custom denim tuxedo jacket for the film and music icon, complete with a lapel flower fashioned out of their signature red tags. It bore a leather patch printed on its interior with a "Notice to All Hotel Men" to indicate the suitability of denim and its worthiness for entry into upscale hotels.

Ready to create your own Canuck tux? Experts share tips on how to bring a fashionable flair to double denim.

1. Mix your blues — but don't match.

"The best way to go is no matter what you're wearing — whether it's a denim jacket or shirt or the pants — you should always look at mismatching the colours," said Jason Trotzuk, founder and creative director of Fidelity Denim.

"Nothing should ever match unless you're wearing a jumper ... or an overall."

Nigel Seebaran, menswear buyer at Over the Rainbow, a premium denim boutique in Toronto, said the key to pairing duelling denims is to wear varying shades of blue. That could involve sporting a lighter denim jacket or shirt teamed with a darker pair of jeans versus wearing an all-light or all-dark ensemble that resembles a uniform, he added.

Trotzuk said Perry's VMA dress was a perfect example of pairing different hues into a pattern of blues.

"That dress really showed the power and range of ... how cool denim is," he said. "Denim is often considered more of a casual thing ... but it was high, high, high-end."

2. Ensure the fit is flattering.

"One of the other key things I think some guys miss the mark on sometimes is making sure that those items that you're wearing fit you," said Seebaran.

"Make sure that you also have a well-fitting jean, and if you're going to do it with the denim shirt, make sure that that shirt actually fits as well."

Seebaran said men can't go wrong with a well-fitting pair of jeans provided they stick to something that's clean in terms of stitch detailing. A slimmer leg also offers a cleaner look, one that lends itself well to being paired with a casual shoe or dressier footwear, he added.

3. Add a personal touch with accessories.

Working with an all-blue canvas, individuals have free rein to personalize the monochromatic look with other signature touches.

"If you're wearing lighter denims, you can spice it maybe with some of your best jewelry to give it that polish," said Trotzuk, who suggested amping up a jumpsuit or top and jean pairing with a nice set of bangles or earrings.

Women may also consider wearing a leather or bomber jacket to accessorize their chambray shirts and jeans, he added.

As for men, Trotzuk suggested the addition of a sleek sport coat, blazer or jacket along with necktie or bowtie to add dressier elements to the ensemble.

Keen to keep the Canadian tuxedo casual? Seebaran suggested making some comfy, cosy additions like wearing a hoodie with a graphic T-shirt and a classic, fitted trucker jacket.

"The nice thing with having the hoodie in there is it's practical in the fall. You're keeping yourself warm, but it also lends you to that little bit of element of breaking it up between the two denims," he said.

"Even if you wanted to go a shade or two darker with your jacket, playing with the colours of the hoodie, you're layering underneath. You're giving it another element in there so it's not just one flat denim look."

Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.



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