The Great Bing Crosby Could Kick Your Ass

by | March 10, 2020 | Opinions

You may know the story of Bing Crosby and the Canadian Tuxedo. You may not. Almost certainly, though, some smart-ass has made the fatal mistake of calling you “Denim Dan,’ or asked you where you got your “Canadian Tuxedo.” If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably wanted to throat punch that person in response. Maybe that’s just me and maybe it’s because I’ve only recently started living the life that it bugs the ever living piss out of me. This too shall pass?

For funsies, let’s recap. The story goes that in 1951, ol’ Bing Crosby, that dewey voiced crooner from yesteryear, rocked up to a hotel in Vancouver, B.C. and was famously denied a room because he showed up sporting a pair of Levi’s jeans. The doorman mistook him for a hobo and kicked Crosby’s denim-clad ass to the curb. Bing-fucking-Crosby!

To avoid any awkward incidents like this in the future, Levi’s hooked up their boy Bing with a custom denim tuxedo. As the incident took place in the Great White North, the phrase Canadian Tuxedo was coined, for some reason took on a negative connotation and became hurled as an insult. Look at this dude and insult him:

Bing Crosby rocking a Levi's type two and jeans.
Bing Crosby, Levi’s Type 2 and jeans!

The tuxedo was crafted from the same denim used for 501® Jeans, and decorated with Red Tabs, held onto the lapel with a cluster of shiny copper rivets. As an added for-the-era politically correct bitch-slap, the interior leather patch features “Notice to All Hotel Men”, stating that denim is a perfectly appropriate fabric and anyone wearing it should be allowed entrance into any establishment. The Tux was so epic that, in 2014, Levi’s actually reissued it. Here’s a side by side with the original on the left and the reissue on the right:

It didn’t Bother Bing Crosby, why does it bother me?

So why does the phrase “Canadian Tuxedo” so badly get my goat? My Mom, lovely woman that she is, refers to my recent change in wardrobe as “the new uniform.” I’ll clarify, we often take the kids to her house at the weekends and this winter I have routinely worn a pair of selvedge jeans, my Red Wing Iron Rangers, a flannel and watch cap, more often than not either accompanied by my Brave Star double black sherpa jacket or 21oz heavy Iron side…weather depending. This is “the uniform” to her.

My well meaning and takes-nothing-too-seriously younger brother has dropped Denim Dan, Canadian Tuxedo and has even gone as far as asked me when I started letting my co-author dress me. It shouldn’t, but it PISSES ME RIGHT THE FUCK OFF. Let’s not even go down the comments and questions I got during my most recent business trip with my teammates. They should reserve judgement, I saw a lot of bedazzled-ass jeans on my colleagues. I am meticulous in the way I dress and carefully curate my outfits so they aren’t ever the same weight, texture or even shade of indigo and I have yet to go full blown denim. Not that I wouldn’t. I just haven’t.

So I’ll wrap it up on this. I am confident in the choices I have made and the reasons for which I have made them. I love raw denim and the personalization and potential it holds to become something truly one of a kind and beautiful. I REGRET NOTHING. I am confident neither did Bing Crosby…at least in reference to his wardrobe choices.

In actual fact, a frank and honest discussion with my brother helped ease some building tension I have felt between us because of some of his comments. However, what I don’t understand is why the hostility or the need to mock anyone for what they are wearing.

Perhaps that’s what actually gets me. It’s just bullying someone over being different or because they don’t understand what they see. I think about my kids and the current state of the world. Bullying was hard enough when I was a kid, but at least it stopped when I got home.

However, now, they are growing up in a world where that isn’t the case and the constant stream of jack-fuckery pollutes every moment of every day through social media and any connected device…which is all of them… even my Roomba is WiFi enabled…is overwhelming. Don’t slip on the internet, it’ll be a cruel meme in minutes and viral moments after that. The bullying and the onslaught of cruelty has the potential to keep reaching them, and that blows.

So I guess, at least in my eyes, to mock someone for wearing a pair of jeans with a denim jacket is just bullying, and I can’t stand a fucking bully. Live and let live and be warned, I’m not above demonstrating that aforementioned throat punch to any bully. Bing Crosby could kick your ass and so can I.

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About the Author

Grant Schildhouse

Grant Schildhouse

Grant, our Editor in Chief, is a denim enthusiast and writer; The Arcuate is his attempt to combine these loves in one place. He wants to tell some of the stories behind those who make and wear denim with a passion. His journey into the world of denim continues, and he hopes you'll co-journey with him, allowing him to be your fireside storyteller.