Style Panel: 4 ways (even a gown!) to put a definitively dressed up spin on denim

We’ve all heard of the Canadian tuxedo: the denim-on-denim blazer/vest/button-down/pants combo that is apparently so intrinsic to our homeland’s stylistic DNA that it bears its name in title. It’s a ludicrous look, but it speaks to the fact that denim, at least in part, is indeed hard to live without. To play homage to our national adoration, we asked our Style Panelists how to amp up the typically casual fabric. As usual, we got several unique and equally awesome answers: from Amy Flying a Kite’s Amy Nelson in a pretty pink vintage sweater worn overtop loose jeans to A Fashion Love Affair’s Cara McLeay’s full on gown treatment; you’ll discover, if you haven’t already, that the denim possibilities are endless.

Question 19: Some still think of denim as a casual-only fabric. What’s your way to dress it up? Read the answers now! »


FASHION Style Panel: Dressing Up Denim: A Fashion Love Affair, Cara McLeay

Cara McLeay, 28
Vancouver | A Fashion Love Affair

I wear denim on almost a daily basis, so when it comes to dressing up denim, I certainly have done my fair share! I decided to layer my denim jacket over this tulle full length skirt to dress up the denim while simultaneously dressing down the gown.

Cara’s wearing: Dress, Windsor Store. Jacket, American Eagle. Necklace, Loren Hope. Heels, Zara.

FASHION Style Panel: Dressing Up Denim: With Love Gabrielle, Marta Tryshak

Marta Tryshak, 24
Toronto | With Love Gabrielle

Aside from being incredibly versatile, denim is also great for highlighting womanly curves. When looking for a pair of jeans, dark blue and black are the safety choice as they are the easiest to dress up. However, even a washed out pair in light blue can be dressed up with a tailored blazer and a pair of fun heels.

Personally, I adore wearing jeans because they make every outfit seem effortless. A pair of jeans can be as dressy as trousers and as seductive as a mini skirt.

Marta’s wearing: Blouse, Talula Babaton. Jeans, 7 For All Mankind. Blazer, Juicy Couture. Pumps, Tory Burch. Purse, Z Spoke by Zac Posen. Rings, Marc by Marc Jacobs. Watch, Michael Michael Kors.

FASHION Style Panel: Dressing Up Denim: Amy Flying a Kite, Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson, 19
Calgary | Amy Flying a Kite

I think the key to dressing up your denim is to wear a very flamboyant or feminine top—whether its a flowing blouse, a bright blazer or an elegant sweater, adding something that stands out keeps your look from being too casual. In this outfit, I paired a delicate vintage cardigan with my favourite bell-bottom jeans. The ultra feminine top half is what makes my denim look dressy.

FASHION Style Panel: Dressing Up Denim: Doll Parade, Kristin MacDonald

Kristin MacDonald, 27
Fredericton | Doll Parade

Sometimes you have an unexpected adventure in fashion. Sometimes this adventure is fuelled by having to run out the door in a flash, throwing on the only things that were directly available on the floor, and all of a sudden, there are some big life questions. Am I successfully dressing up denim? Am I keeping it real? Is this a total blunder? Do I care?

I’m not quite sure if I learned any valid denim lessons here or not, but I do like mixing it up and playing with lengths, proportions, and textures, regardless of the outcome. Mixing a longer tunic in a sleek material with a heavier, tweed featured blazer and finishing off the look with some sky-high platforms did definitely make me feel just that much more polished, though all of it was still comfortable and moveable. Denim, you are simply always FTW.