Style / July 2018

Jean Geniuses: How to Style a Denim Shirt with Tailoring

Despite their deeply divergent histories, denim and tailoring prove to be strangely well-matched bedfellows. With the help of some superb Italian street style, we show you how to combine the two.

The much maligned Canadian tuxedo is stylishly inverted by wearing a pinstripe jacket over a denim shirt, introducing a pattern which contrasts nicely with the light-washed denim.

Here at The Rake, we’re not big on fleeting trends; but nor are we so stubborn as to turn our face against the wind of history when it’s clearly blowing in the opposite direction. And if there’s one gust of wind that’s been blowing with the force of a gale over the last decade or so in menswear, it’s fusion dressing. In fact, it’s this intermixing – of the high and low, of the smart and casual, of the traditional and the new – that has propelled men’s fashion since the end of the Second World War. We have this overarching trend to thank for such garments as the polo shirt and chino trousers, as well as for comfortable interventions such as sneakers with suiting. And the latest in a long and venerable line of syntheses: denim shirting with tailoring.

As garments go, they don’t come from worlds much further apart than do denim and tailoring. Tailoring has long been the preserve of the white-collar worker, men who can afford the cost of a bespoke suit safe in the knowledge that it won’t be spoilt by strenuous physical labour. Hard-wearing, durable denim, on the other hand, was invented in the Gold Rush era precisely for workers who required something a little tougher than tailored cloth. Since then, jeans have been adopted by almost every subculture – from rockers to ravers – who have set themselves up in opposition to the men in suits.

How, then, did it come to pass that at Florence’s Pitti Uomo and Milan’s Moda Uomo this year, there was barely a suit in sight that didn’t have denim’s unmistakable blue hue pocking out underneath it. The answer is simple: it’s now 2018, not 1858, and the boundaries between forms of labour are more blurred than ever before; clothing no longer connotes career. Also, pairing a denim shirt with tailoring looks bloody great, combining the rugged spirit of the American frontier with the elegance of a well-cut suit. Here, a few styling tips on how to pull off a denim shirt with tailoring in a way that is masterfully modish as opposed to foolishly faddish.

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Desmond Huthwaite

Copywriter at The Rake