Celebrity Icons Wearing Denim Throughout History

I thought it might be really cool to put together a post featuring celebrity icons wearing denim throughout the past century. I love everyone of these pictures and I find it so intriguing to look back over the many years and see how denim was worn in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I still do think that the 80’s was my favourite as it really started taking over the fashion industry! It did calm down a little bit in the 90’s, but then from a good few years ago to the present day it’s in full force again!

I feel like denim is one thing that so many of us have in common, especially everyone here at DenimBlog (writers and readers), so it’s really nice to take a look back into history and see so many important people who we still remember today wearing the amazing blue fabric. It’s evolved so much as time goes on, so it’s nice to see it almost in its original form. If you like this post, you may also want to check out my History of Denim post as well.

Elvis Presley

The image above of Elvis Presley is one of my favourites! I love his double denim look with the dark blue jeans, cuffed at the hem, and the slightly lighter blue denim/chambray style shirt while he’s playing his music. Elvis’s music will probably live on forever and so will his fashion sense. I’m not talking about his later outfits with the sparkly one pieces (although those are definitely remembered), but his love for denim and classic western style wear. Even though I was born in the 80’s, I do love his music and appreciate everything about him, so I’m very happy that this image exists online!

James Dean

A lot of you will probably remember the Lee Jeans advert made famous by James Dean himself. He wore a lot of Lee Jeans and was often spotted in numerous jeans throughout his unfortunately short career. When I was speaking to a few people about famous icons from years ago who were known for the denim, James Dean came up first most of the time. I remember Paige Denim actually named one of her washes ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ after his movie, so it’s very fitting to include him in this post as well.

Steve McQueen

When it comes to Steve McQueen, I always think of two things; The Great Escape and denim. I love this humorous photo above of him wearing double denim with boots. It reminds me a lot of a black and white version of Elvis’s photo above actually, but the funny thing about this outfit, is that it’s what a lot of guys still wear today. In today’s denim market, the short length higher rise jeans with a slight cuff are so popular for the men now, especially at Urban Outfitters. This era of denim style came right back around and we owe it all to guys like Steve McQueen! One current celebrity that also springs to mind when I think of Steve McQueen is Daniel Craig. His regular style is a lot like Steve’s and I find their body shapes to be quite similar as well.

Marilyn Monroe

Of course I couldn’t leave our Marilyn Monroe! She was famous for making jeans sexy and a few brands today name their jeans after her! She’s pictured above wearing her co star Monty Clift’s Lee Storm Rider Jacket, as well as a pair of selvedge jeans, River of no Return jeans (while being held up) and a dark wash selvedge denim jacket. I’ve included a variety of images from her younger days and her more famous years and I love the fact that she wore denim through most of it!

Montgomery Clift

Montgomery Clift’s photos are from being on set of his films. The second one was while shooting The Misfits in 1960. He wore a double denim Wrangler look which was most fitting since he’s wearing a western outfit. It’s also amazing to see brands like Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler still being successful in the denim market today! Especially when you look at Levi’s who have been around since the late 1800’s, it’s incredible! I think Monty looks great in his denim!


This was one of Madonna’s photoshoots for a magazine from the 80’s and I had to include it! Madonna is of course the queen of pop so how could I not include her? This is a typical 80’s look with the hair, the baggy clothes and the general punk vibe and I think she rocks it! In my mind, Madonna (amongst other 80’s stars) really made the acid wash and double denim trend come to life!

Michael Jackson

Oh Michael Jackson! I couldn’t actually find a huge amount of photos of him wearing jeans as I know he preferred to wear a lot of performance style outfits and leather, however I found these two and I think they are amazing! I love the super slim fit of the raw coloured pair on the left and then he has a light wash shredded pair as a contrast on the right. Like Madonna being the queen of pop, Michael is of course the king of pop and probably always will be. I will always remember him mostly for his chains and love of black leather more so than jeans, but I had to include him in the list.

Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury always springs to my mind when I think of jeans too. The vision in my head is always his super tight white jeans that he liked to wear a lot on stage with his t-shirts. I actually adore the picture above of a younger Michael Jackson and Freddie both wearing jeans together, I think it’s so natural and perfect! I also included him on stage in his Wrangler jeans as I am sure so many of you will remember him for his denim on stage, like myself!

One thing I would have loved to see how was how these celebs would have rocked denim later on in life. Luckily Madonna still does, but she doesn’t wear jeans that often anymore. I do wonder though what jeans Marlyn may have worn in the 70’s or 80’s and the same thing goes for James Dean. What celebrity icons in history do you remember specifically for denim?

Images courtesy of Theselvedgeyard, DenimHunters & Google Images.

Written by Lorna Burford