Dangerously Denim: the Origin of the Canadian Tuxedo

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Denim has been a staple in clothing since the late 19th century. As stated on Levi Strauss & Co.'s website, in 1873 Jacob Davis and Strauss began putting rivets in men’s work pants and thus created what came to be known as “blue jeans.” (If you want to know more about why they’re called “jeans,” why they’re made from denim, and why they’re colored blue, check out this article.)

Since then blue jeans have gone from traditional work attire to casual dress, and can even be called high fashion with the right pairing. Now there are denim hats, denim jackets, denim shirts, and even denim backpacks, but have you ever wondered how the denim-on-denim outfit known as the “Canadian Tuxedo” came to be?

The basic Canadian Tuxedo outfit consists of denim jeans with a denim jacket; however, it can be “upgraded” by wearing a denim jacket with a denim shirt and pants.

This “fashion faux pas” originated from an incident, in Vancouver, Canada involving one Harry Lillis Crosby Jr, better known as Bing Crosby.

Crosby was a multimedia star whose career spanned from the 1920s until his passing in 1977. During his career, he had more than 40 number one hits, received the best actor award for his role in Going My Way, and was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.


In 1951, he was returning from a hunting trip and proceeded to check into the Hotel Vancouver – where he was denied. Now, why would an American star such as Crosby be denied when three years earlier he was given the key to the city? Turns out the reason was his outfit. His hunting attire was denim jeans and a denim jacket, which was considered lower class at that time. Thankfully, a bellhop recognized Crosby and the situation was corrected.

This denim dilemma would reach the ears of the Levi Strauss company. Designers came up with a way to turn this “low class” fabric into upper-class dress – a tuxedo made out of denim. Levi’s presented the creation to Crosby during the Silver State Stampede where he named the suit the Canadian Tuxedo.

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Photo via Flickr, credit to PunkToad


The rest is history!

Years later, A-list celebrities, musicians, and even politicians have rocked this look.

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