The “Canadian Tuxedo”

Posted on November 1, 2013

"Canadian"? Sure, why not. "Tuxedo"? Don't even go there.

“Canadian”? Sure, why not. “Tuxedo”? Don’t even go there.
(Photo: Danique Roswell)

I recently discovered the existence of the term “Canadian Tuxedo” that refers to a denim top worn with denim pants.  There’s even an entire blog showcasing examples of such outfits  and a web site by that name that promotes them as being legitimately formal*.  I was a little baffled that I had never heard that moniker in over four decades of living in Canada but when I surveyed friends and colleagues I found I wasn’t alone.  In fact, the more I explore its usage the more it appears to be an Americanism.  And not a very nice one at that.

Canadians are known for their often self-deprecating sense of humour and I certainly enjoy jokes about our compulsive politeness and love of beer, hockey and saying “eh”.  In fact we poke fun at our rural bretheren by associating their town names with “dinner jacket” in reference to a plaid lumberjack shirt.  But we can also get a little prickly about the often condescending attitude and cultural myopism of some of our US neighbours.   And implying that this hick (and banal) outfit represents the height of Canadian sophistication certainly smacks of that kind of derision.  I’d be much happier if Americans used the other term for this outfit: Texan Tuxedo.  Knowing the Lone Star state’s affinity for mavericks and iconoclasts I imagine they’d consider it a complement!

Out of curiosity, I’d like to know what my fellow Canucks think of the term and whether they’re even familiar with it.  Please answer this quick poll and/or leave a comment on the topic.  (I’ll publish the results in a few months so everyone who didn’t qualify for the poll can see them.)

*This web site’s view is the exception; people that use this term don’t actually expect the outfit to be treated as formal wear.  In that regard it is different than an actual tuxedo made of denim which pops up from time to time such as a 1970s After Six model and a Levi’s reproduction coming out next spring.



As promised, here are the results as of January 15, 2014.  Based on the responses, Canadians readers appear to be evenly split on whether the term is offensive. Canadian_tuxedo_poll_results_Jan_15,2014

Posted in: Miscellanea