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  • Writer's pictureginaelisebradbury

The Controversy & Appeal of Double Denim

Double denim can be a risky fashion move. Let's look at what has and hasn't worked over the years


Opinions on #doubledenim are divided, Glamour have described it as "considered a huge faux pas" (glamourmagazine.co.uk, 2023) and Harpers Bazaar as something that has "often been considered a cardinal sin in the fashion world". (harpersbazaar.com, 2018)

However, regardless of it's reputation, double denim is still favoured by celebrities and fashion designers. It has appeared repeatedly in both S/S and A/W 2023 fashion shows. Let's look into why double denim is a prevailing style: what looks cool and what crosses the line when wearing double denim?


A wide range of double denim styles occupied the S/S '23 catwalks, and full-length denim skirts are a focus in A/W '23 collections. According to Vogue Scandinavia, "Floor-sweeping denim is key to elevating your wardrobe this season". (voguescandinavia.com, March 2023)

Below are my favourite of the recent high fashion double denim designs:


A model on the Annakiki S/S '23 runway wearing a cool denim corset with jeans.
A model on the Annakiki S/S '23 runway wearing a cool denim corset with jeans. I love the mix of the black denim with acid wash grey. Also, I like the details (at first I thought they looked like safety pins but they might be rivets). They add detail in an understated way. (sourcingjournal.com)

A model wearing a laid-back double denim look on the Bally s/s '23 catwalk.
A model wearing a laid-back, mismatched double denim look on the Bally S/S '23 catwalk. (sourcingjournal.com)

A model wearing a Karl Lagerfeld s/s '23 double denim jacket and jeans with orange details.
A model wearing a Karl Lagerfeld S/S '23 double denim jacket and jeans with orange details. (sourcingjournal.com)

A model looking smart in (what appears to be) a denim jumpsuit and matching jacket. Part of the Sara Battaglia S/S '23 collection. (sarabattaglia.com)

A model wearing a denim jeans and jacket from the Schiaparelli s/s '23 collection.
Another example of the mix of chic and casual that comes with wearing double denim with jewellery and sunglasses. A model wearing a denim jacket and jeans from the Schiaparelli S/S '23 collection. (sourcingjournal.com)

A double denim maxi skirt and skirt combo at Ganni autumn/winter 2023.
A double denim maxi skirt and shirt combo at the Ganni A/W 2023 show. (voguescandinavia.com)

Zimmermann autumn/winter 2023.
Another double denim look featuring a long skirt at the Zimmermann A/W 2023 show. (voguescandinavia.com)

The double denim catwalk styles that stand out to me have a laid-back but chic look. I actually thought I didn't like blue double denim until I saw a picture of Debbie Harry, in the late 1970s, wearing the look onstage. For me, she epitomises how to wear double denim. She has an effortless appeal; she looks like she's just thrown on some random, casual denim clothes and looks amazing in them.


Debbie Harry wearing double denim on stage in 1978.
Debbie Harry wearing double denim onstage in 1978. (elle.com)

In the past, denim has been associated with Western movies, rebellion, freedom and bridging the gap between the dressing styles of social classes. Appreciating the comfort and practicality of denim aligns with the history of the material; known for it's resilience, denim is a strong, reinforced material in which "the weft passes under two or more warp threads". (bragvintage.com, 2022) After receiving a patent for 'blue jeans' in 1873 (levistrauss.com), Levi Strauss opened a denim store in San Francisco at a time when most men in the area were miners. They needed resilient, comfortable workwear, and this sparked the popularity of denim as a practical option. Also, the outer warp threads of the first denim created were dyed blue or indigo. (bragvintage.com, 2022) Therefore, blue denim outfits often have a classic, effortless and almost sporty look to them. I really like the iconic vintage examples below:


Marilyn Monroe wearing blue double denim on the set of The Misfits in 1960.
Marilyn Monroe in blue double denim on the set of the Western Noir movie 'The Misfits' in 1960. ( classiq.me)

Elvis wearing double denim in the 1962 movie 'Follow That Dream'.
Elvis wearing double denim in the 1962 movie 'Follow That Dream'. (m.imdb.com)

George Harrison looking cool in double denim in 1969.
George Harrison looking cool in double denim in 1969 during a photograph session for the album 'Abbey Road'. (gupmagazine.com)

Brooke Shields wearing Calvin Klein double denim in 1985
Brooke Shields wearing Calvin Klein in 1985. (elle.com)

Shania Twain wearing double denim onstage in 1995.
Shania Twain wearing double denim onstage in 1995. (people.com)

Madonna wearing double denim with high heels in 1998 for her 'Ray of Light' music video.
Also a wearer of double denim in the 1980s, Madonna wore double denim with high heels in 1998 for her 'Ray of Light' music video. (harpersbazaar.com)


There are a wide range of denim styles and so those discussed in this post aren't exhaustive. However, I've picked out some of the double denim trends that particularly stand out to me:


00's Multi-Denim


As someone who prefers a laid-back denim look, the number one double denim offence (and the reason why I once thought I didn't like the style at all) is Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake's excessive 2001 matching look. To be fair, Justin Timberlake is wearing triple denim including a denim cowboy hat. It can't be unseen. I really like Britney and she looks beautiful, but the mixing of diamante jewellery and a silver chain belt with a denim dress looks mismatched. It doesn't elevate the practical, patchwork material into a glamorous look and doesn't work for the red carpet.


Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wearing coordinated denim outfits in 2001.
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wearing coordinated denim outfits in 2001 at the American Music Awards. (elle.com)

Surprisingly, Camila Cabello brought back early 00's style, in April 2022, for a performance of her latest album in New York. Triple denim has also repeatedly appeared in S/S '23 collections including Chloe and GCDS. To me, it looks excessive and takes away from the effortless style that can be achieved with double denim.


Camila C bringing back 00's fashion with an excessive multi denim look.
Camila Cabello in April 2022 bringing back 00's fashion with an excessive multi denim look. (gofugyourself.com)

A model wearing a triple denim look on the Chloe s/s '23 catwalk.
A model wearing a triple denim look on the Chloe S/S '23 catwalk. (sourcingjournal.com)

A model wearing a triple denim look on the Chloe s/s '23 catwalk.
A triple denim look including a mini skirt on the GCDS S/S '23 catwalk. (sourcingjournal.com)

Over-Embellished


Shining, sparkling embellishments on denim, including studs and diamante, were popular in the 90s and 00s. Again, for me these "glitzy" and purely decorative features take away from the cool, casualness of denim. Also, if featured on double denim, embellishments are twice the excess. Of course, this is just my personal taste and opinion and you should wear what you choose. Shining embellishments are another example of an 00's denim trend that has reappeared on 2023 catwalks. Below are some visual examples where I think this look has been taken too far:


Model wearing jeans covered with gold buttons. Chanel A/W '91.
Model wearing jeans covered with gold buttons. Chanel A/W '91. (tatler.com)

A denim jacket heavily embellished with gold studs on the Bluemarine S/S '23 catwalk. (sourcingjournal.com)

Double denim with gold embellishments on the Alessandra Rich autumn/winter '23 catwalk.
Double denim with gold embellishments on the Alessandra Rich autumn/winter '23 catwalk. (voguescandinavia.com)




90's Pink Denim


On the other hand, a double denim match that has a place in my heart is the pairing of pink denim pieces. I wore a bright pink denim skirt with a matching jacket as a child in the 90s. My cousin had the same outfit and we'd wear them at the same time. I distinctly remember wearing this outfit at the park and I felt so stylish. So to me, pink double denim reminds me of fun and carefree, sunny days.


90's pink double denim. A model in October 1992  at the Chanel Ready to Wear show. Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 1992-1993..
90's pink double denim. A model in October 1992 at the Chanel Ready to Wear show. Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 1992-1993. (wmagazine.com)

I love the the pink double denim outfit Gigi Hadid wore in the 2023 second season of Netflix's 'Next in Fashion'. It's from the limited edition Balmain x Barbie 2022 collection, and I also included it in my post on the subject of #barbiecore, 'The Evolution of Barbie & the Uplifting World of Barbiecore'.


Gigi Hadid wearing bright pink Balmain x Barbie double denim on season 2 of 'Next in Fashion'.
Gigi Hadid wearing bright pink Balmain x Barbie double denim on season 2 of 'Next in Fashion'. (preview.ph)


Printed Denim


Another style of denim I like is printed. Grazia have called it "a fun designer denim trend" and I agree. (graziadaily.co.uk, February 2023) It looks unusual and creative without the "flashiness" of shining embellishments.


Penelope Cruz in Venice for Venice Film Festival wearing all Chanel including printed jeans. September 2022.
Penelope Cruz in Venice for Venice Film Festival wearing all Chanel including printed jeans. September 2022. (glamour.com, 2022)

Ashley Roberts, a celebrity who has repeatedly worn double denim well, in London in March 2023. She is wearing a cute double printed denim outfit by Fiorruchi.
Ashley Roberts, a celebrity who has repeatedly worn double denim, in London in March 2023. She is wearing a cute double printed denim outfit by Fiorruchi. (glamourmagazine.co.uk)

Smart Trouser Suits


Whilst my favourite double denim style is the casual, late 1970's Debbie Harry look, I do also like smart, tailored denim trouser suits. I really like the flared jeans and 1970's style of the two examples below:


A young woman wearing a beautiful tailored denim suit with shoulder pads.
A young woman wearing a beautiful tailored denim suit. I love the high waist and shoulder pads. (glamourmagazine.co.uk)

Actress Claire Foy in N.Y.C in 2022 wearing a smart denim suit with a waist cinching denim belt.
Actress Claire Foy in N.Y.C in 2022 wearing a smart denim suit with a stylish waist cinching denim belt. (graziamagazine.com)

Another denim style that I really like, and that works for double denim, is reformed. I plan to share a blog post about reformed denim, its style and sustainability in the near future. I'd love to know what you think of double denim and which styles work/don't work in the comments at the bottom of the page. Below, I've shared a selection of aesthetically pleasing denim items to mix and match.






















Writing Sources


Article by Georgia Trodd for Glamour. 28th March 2023.

Article by Harriet Davey. 16th February 2023. https://graziadaily.co.uk/fashion/shopping/printed-denim-trend/

Article by Josefin Forsberg for Vogue Scandinavia. 7th March 2023.


Unlinked Image Sources





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