“Why wouldn’t you pair denim with denim? It’s a natural combination,” says Elle Market Editor Justine Carreon. At our (pre-social distancing) interview, she’s wearing a chambray shirt layered over a tie-dye tee, and both are tucked into a pair of straight-leg jeans. “People are always nervous about a Texas tux, but in my opinion, it looks really good,” she laughs.
And her outfit does look really good: Yes, it’s a gentle nod to cowboy cool, but Carreon’s current go-to combo feels unmistakably modern. And this fresh riff on full-on denim is just one of endless possibilities—denim separates in different washes and colors are the stuff of unrivaled versatility, from jean jackets and vests to skirts and shorts. (Plus, these live-in pieces tend to be closet staples for years.)
As some of us have become maybe too used to wearing leggings day in and day out, mixing in some feel-good denim is a low-lift, low-pressure way to add some variety, and play with our style again. Here, Carreon shares three casual, lightened-up denim-on-denim outfits to try this season, featuring her favorite AG Jeans pieces. See the looks, shop her picks, and ride the full-denim trend through summer and well beyond.
If you’re just starting out putting multiple denim pieces together, Carreon recommends wearing all white: “It’s an easy, clean base and you can accessorize and style it however you want.”
Paired up, a white denim jacket and front-slit midi skirt give the effect of a matching set, which instantly feels polished. Weave in a few colorful accents—like a pastel-blue shirt and pink accessories—for a look that can translate easily from daytime walks to summer nights. Bonus: Come hotter months when the AC blast gets icy, the jacket—worn just a little boxy to feel current—will be a lifesaver.
Texas Tux 2.0
“I have no rules,” Carreon says about deciding which denim washes to style together. “I don’t like to limit myself to what I can and can’t do. I usually throw on whatever ends up feeling good that day.”
For this look, she went with a darker chambray shirt and a pair of light blue jeans. The sharp shade contrast between the two is a distinct departure from the concept of the matchy-matchy denim “suit,” but a few cohesive, on-trend touches—a tonal tie-dye tee and white accessories that round out the color story of super-light to indigo—pull the outfit together in an unexpectedly chic way.
Tucking tip: Follow Carreon’s lead and leave the buttons of your shirt undone so you can cross one side over the other when securing them into your jeans—it makes for a cleaner, cooler silhouette. On especially warm days, just tie the shirt around your waist and you’ll still get that juxtaposition of dark-on-light denim.
There’s an immediate look that comes to mind when talking about denim on denim, but one progressive take on the theme is to pair pieces that don’t read as that internalized combo (at least not at first glance). Mix things up by starting with one regular “blue jean” denim piece, and pair it like you would with anything else, switching up the color, print, or texture of its (less-obviously denim) counterpart.
Here, Carreon’s look is based around a pair of true-blue, cutoff Bermuda shorts—a resurfaced silhouette du jour, thanks to their laidback shape and recent runway stamp of approval. Topped with an oversized chambray shirt in deceptive pink, the outfit presents as a nonchalant blend of separates, with just-right ’90s skater vibes. Of course, the hero pieces are even more complementary upon closer inspection.
Just throw on a few playful accessories—like the bucket hat, scarf-belt, and layered necklaces Carreon wears above—to keep the relaxed look worthy of the weekend.