Friday Fashion History Lesson: The Canadian Tuxedo

After a summer of setting hearts aflutter around the world while appearing shirtless in various social media photos, Justin Trudeau put on a quintessential Canuck uniform last weekend.

The Prime Minister attended the Tragically Hip concert last weekend in Kingston and was dressed in head to toe denim – a jean jacket worn with jeans. It’s a popular casual look that has always been dubbed the Canadian Tuxedo.

While the look speaks to our embrace of casual and relaxed fashion, how did this fashion statement ever get anointed the moniker, Canadian Tuxedo? And what does it mean since it is the polar opposite of the rigid formality black tie tuxedo actually exudes?

It turns out that it was an American who helped fashioned the look. Back in 1951, crooner Bing Crosby was in Vancouver and was turned away from a swanky hotel because he wearing head-to-toe denim. Upon hearing this bit of news, Levi Strauss, the American jeans company, custom-made a tuxedo made entirely of denim and sent it to Crosby. Inside the jacket was the inscription, “Notice to All Hotel Men,” where it went on to say the outfit is perfectly acceptable attire to gain entrance to any hotel.

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Crosby so loved the denim tuxedo, he wore it on press appearances for this next movie, Here Comes the Groom. 

So what was once deemed not appropriate attire to wear in fancy places in Canada is now whole-heartedly embraced by the nation – and one young, good-looking and hip Prime Minister – and trotted out everywhere across the country.

Of course, fashion has also put its stamp of approval on the head-to-toe denim look as seen on the spring/summer 2016 runways of such esteemed haute French brands like Givenchy and Valentino (image below.)  Wearing full throttle denim is now a hip and trendy thing to wear. But Canadians already knew that.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 24: A model walks the runway during the Valentino Menswear Spring/Summer 2016 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 24, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/Getty Images)