The Jean Jacket
By Matthew Bell
Introduced to the world in 1905 as a "blouse” strong enough to protect workers from the harsh elements, the denim jacket has had its moment in almost every generation since. Who can forget the jacket manning up the looks of people like John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Johnny Rotten, Bruce Springsteen, Kurt Cobain, and even David Beckham?
When it comes to a piece as classic and versatile as the denim jacket, wearing it right will all come down to the details. No matter the look, most denim jackets should cut off just at your waist with highly cut armholes and sleeves that hit just at the wrist. It should fit snuggly enough so you have the option of layering it with a thin shirt or two -- not so loose that you could wear it over a thick knit sweater.
One of the biggest questions any man has about their denim jacket is what to wear it with. We’re happy to share with you that the denim-on-denim look has been freed -- even encouraged -- albeit with a few caveats. The main one is to avoid the dreaded "Texas Tuxedo" -- unless you’re a world respected rock star or drive a Mack truck, do not pair your denim jacket with the same wash of jeans. More easily forgotten, nix any cowboy boots or belts when wearing denim on top and bottom -- you want to wear an outfit, not a costume.
Instead, mix up the washes. Matching dark indigo jeans with a lighter wash jacket worn over a simple T-shirt is actually a great way to make your body look slimmer while sporting a classic look. But you don’t have to love the double denim look to get in on the denim jacket this season. You can still rock the classic denim jacket look (both light and dark washes) with any old or new T-shirt and a pair of khakis, cords, cargos, and even combat pants.
The denim jacket is also an important layering piece this season, be it on the inside or outside of your look. On crispy, cool days, toss it over a sweater vest, cardigan, or flannel, grab a light scarf, and be off. On blustery, cold days, wear your denim jacket to work underneath a wool coat. Just be careful to use only unlined denim as a layering piece. Shearling- or flannel-lined denim looks sloppy and disproportionately bulky when combined with too many layers.
A denim jacket may tend to rough up a look, but now more so than ever, it can be dressed up too. A clean, dark wash jacket paired with a plain Oxford button-up and a skinny tie, light wool pants, and some shoes smarts up the jacket and gives some 'tude to an otherwise plain work or date look.