Cast your mind back to the days before Instagram. It’s 1991 and a young Hollywood star, Drew Barrymore, is snapped wearing a baggy trucker jacket and washed-out blue jeans at the Toy Soldiers film premier. It’s a virtually identical pairing to that worn by Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Misfits in 1960, and with the advent of Tumblr in 2007, Barrymore’s look would see her heralded as a Nineties grunge style icon (all over again) and subsumed into Noughties fashion vernacular.
Cue a new generation of American stars, including Hailey Bieber and Gigi Hadid, whose modern-day reworking of the oversized, jean-on-jean formula pays dues to both Monroe and Barrymore’s pioneering talent for shopping the menswear aisle. The slouchy throwback mood may be an Instagram mainstay for the young women who command eight-digit online followings, but in reality double denim is markedly different from most other fashion trends in that it has held fast as the ungendered uniform of the famous and non-famous alike since its rebellious beginnings.
The phrase “Canadian tuxedo” is itself reported to have originated in 1951 after Bing Crosby was refused entry to a Canadian hotel because he was wearing an all-denim ensemble. Celebrity status notwithstanding, he’d failed to meet the dress code. By the close of the decade, Elvis’s workaday duo of jeans and denim jacket was an unnerving proposition for the upper echelons of the American middle classes who feared for the morality of their teenage offspring. Unsurprisingly, for his youthful fan base, this guaranteed the look caught on, with the star’s non-conformist style distinguishing a new kind of pop culture hero who had the confidence to celebrate his working-class roots through dress.
It’s no coincidence that head-to-toe denim has earmarked other radical musicians ever since. Flick to Blondie frontwoman, Debbie Harry, on stage in 1978 wearing a cropped denim jacket teamed with jeans tucked into knee-high boots, her eyes fiercely circled with kohl. Or Sade, the British-Nigerian singer and songwriter who, back in the Eighties, revitalised the notion of polished femininity in pop music while wearing a chambray shirt and blue jeans.
No one has hit the power-down button on the double-denim trend yet because its egalitarian powers are unchanged. And, alongside Lauren Hutton and Rihanna, that’s a pretty good principle to dress by.