Swellboy on… double denim

Our man falls head over heels for the reliable workwear staple

Image: Brijesh Patel

I am told that there are rules about double denim: the one I usually hear is that it should not be attempted, especially at my age.

Some years ago I wrote of my middle-aged enthusiasm for jeans and I have recently started to get into wearing denim shirts. If I were the owner of a concept store in Japan, I would probably wear them with a knitted tie, a suit one size too small with trouser legs intentionally short so as to drag the eye to a pair of unforgivingly fashionable training shoes. Happily, I am not burdened with a Japanese concept shop and instead Charvet has made me two denim shirts in a formal style with French cuffs. I wear them open-necked with a blazer and a pair of glorious, rusticated gold-matrix-turquoise cuff links that I bought at Nardi some years ago – and sometimes, very daringly, with a pair of jeans.

My contact with the fashion industry is tenuous at the best of times but even I have heard that it is apparently OK to double denim these days, and I am now experimenting with triple denim. The epiphany struck me the other day when I was tucking a lightweight denim shirt from Brunello Cucinelli into a pair of vintage Levi’s 501s: I remembered that I had a pair of denim slippers with a Jolly Roger embroidered on the front. Now, blessed with an addict’s conviction that more is always better, I am, of course, looking for ways to quadruple, quintuple, sextuple and otherwise multiply my denim.


Obviously, a denim jacket is the next step and as good fortune has it, I already have a denim suit made by Mariano Rubinacci; so shirt, trousers, jacket and shoes make a quadruple, to which I should think I could add one of Hublot’s denim-strapped watches for a quintuple denim. 

The more I think about it, the possibilities are, if not infinite, then certainly pretty broad. I suppose I could ask Anne-Marie Colban at Charvet to make me a bespoke stone-washed denim pochette. I could wear a denim cap (I think something circa 1975 Donny Osmond will do the trick). There are, so I am reliably informed by Her Majesty’s Internet, denim Ray-Ban Wayfarers. I could also download Lord David Dundas’s 1976 hit Jeans On and have that playing as a perpetual backing track on my iPhone in my pocket. I reckon with a bit of creative thinking I could be up into double digits.

The only thing I am a bit wary of is “splashing on” the Denim by Fabergé aftershave. I recall this unguent being advertised during the 1970s with a voice-over by a man with a sore throat who had just smoked an entire carton of high-tar cigarettes and who could just about growl out the words: “For the man who doesn’t have to try too hard”. What worries me is that the advertisement depicted a man wearing an unbuttoned denim shirt stopping a woman’s nail-varnished hand from working its way inside and disrupting the drape of the garment on his torso. I like to think I mix in circles where women are far more respectful of the care I take with my clothes – but if crumpled shirts are the result of “splashing it on” too vigorously then that is most definitely a denim too far.


Read more about Swellboy’s sartorial stumpers as he tackles black-tie dresscodes and spywear.

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