Double denim: the ultimate sin?

Double denim used to be the stuff of nightmares...

Stonewash jeans with a denim jacket? So 80s, and so… well, wrong. But the look was championed by the likes of Chloe and Ralph Lauren at the spring/summer shows, and the high street has been quick to pick up on the trend.

With so much denim on offer, it can be difficult to know where to start. Jeans, jeggings, denim skirts, shirts, shorts, jackets, dresses, gilets, waistcoats and dungarees are all having a major ‘fashion’ moment. Yet as celebs like Alexa Chung have shown, it is possible to pull off what was once considered a major fashion faux pas.

Yet head out onto the high street and there is an overwhelming choice of denim. Luckily for students, Primark has a great selection of denim shirts and jeans so it’s not only easy to experiment with the look, but also cheap too. Jeans are a classic wardrobe staple, so it’s not hard to find a flattering pair on the high street. And with the summer approaching, denim shorts and skirts are also arriving in stores by the truckload. This is one trend that will be everywhere this season. Yet while it’s a tricky trend to master, it’s achievable if you follow some basic rules.

The key to achieving this look is colour combination. Head-to-toe denim in one colour is only for the very brave. If you’re starting to wander into B*Witched territory, it’s time to take it down a notch. Get double denim right, and you’ll earn instant style kudos. Get it wrong (and it’s all too easy to fall into denim overkill), you’ll end up the butt of many a cowboy joke.

For the uninitiated, try working with dark denim. A pair of black jeans teamed with a grey or black denim waistcoat is a sophisticated and subtle way of working the trend. A key rule for mixing up denim is that when teaming with jeans, the jeans should be darker than the other piece of denim in the outfit.

White jeans are unflattering on all but very thinnest of women, and wearing a darker colour on top will just draw more attention to your lower section. Which is fine if you’re confident with your figure, but if not it’s best to remember that when it comes to jeans, the darker the denim, the more slimming it is.

With blue-wash jeans, it’s best to trade a waistcoat for a shirt. Either wear indigo jeans with an unbuttoned stonewash shirt, or a buttoned-up shirt with ripped or distressed jeans. The key is avoiding monotony and breaking up the look so it isn’t solid denim - an unbuttoned shirt with a flash of T-Shirt underneath or slashed jeans will do this.

Bulky denim jackets are best avoided with blue-wash denim as they add weight and drag the whole look down, making it less ‘double denim’ and more ‘matchy-matchy’. However, cropped denim jackets can work well with jeans. If you do go for a denim jacket, it’s best to pair it with skinny jeans. Looser-fitting styles don’t look as flattering when worn with denim jackets, and neither do high-waisted styles.

Probably the most risk-free way of doing double denim is to opt for shorts or skirts, because they’re more versatile. These can easily be paired with an unbuttoned denim shirt for a much more relaxed look. Here the colour combination isn’t so vital since less denim is on show, so it’s easier to be creative. Dresses are also incredibly easy to wear with a belt or leggings, but are best not paired with any other denim. The same goes for dungarees.

Double denim should not be attempted with any of the newer styles of jeans. ‘Newer’ refers to the unusual shapes that have made their way onto the high street in recent months- namely the jodhpur jean (skinny-fit below the knee, but hugely baggy at the thigh) and the harem jean (same concept as harem trousers- very loose, fitted at the ankle). These jeans are statement enough without the added confusion of double denim.

The only way of finding out what works and what doesn’t is to experiment. Much like with any other trend, what suits one person may well be a disaster on another. When combining denim, accessories are hugely important as so much denim sometimes looks drab; a waist-cinching belt, statement bag and of course shoes can transform an outfit. The great thing about denim is that it goes with almost anything. Just don’t accessorise with a mullet.

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