You don’t have to become a hauler to get a good deal of mileage out of a trucker. Or a cowboy. The jean jacket (as its founding fathers call it in the US) has, like a lot of workwear staples, gone from being a beat-up old-reliable of menswear to a go-to for more dress codes than you’d imagine.
“A denim jacket is a fantastic option to have at your disposal for its versatility, particularly at this period of the year,” says Daniel Rhone, stylist, and personal shopper for a group of high, leading Premier League footballers — emphasis ‘ballers’. “I like to layer one as a middle tier between my choice of outerwear and an under layer of a tee or shirt. Especially if I have suppressed the temperatures outside.”
You don’t have to take his word for it, although you should because he’s a very cool guy, even if he wraps up warm. But to drive the point home, here are 10 different ways to partner a jean jacket so that you can keep on trucking down the road.
You are efficiently wearing jeans on your upper half, and you realize that double denim is a dangerous territory. But is heading out half-naked. Enter chinos. They may be smart, together with formalizing features such as pleats, creases and a tab closed, but they can also be casual.
Their army history and generally utilitarian cotton-twill fabric nevertheless make them a reliable denim ally; the original khaki — technically a color, not a design — is a traditional pairing. Add a whitened T-shirt and you’re Don Draper at the weekend.
Using A White T-shirt
This is just another traditional pairing enshrined in Americana. A crisp but fuss-free appearance, it is not quite as easy as you may think.
Its success mostly hinges on finding the best white tee, which could be a Goldilocks-ian quest: not too slim, not too baggy; not too translucent, not too bulletproof; not too “gunny”, not too little; not too similar to a dress, not too much like a crop-top; not overly large on the neck so that it’s an undershirt-cum-garotte, not too low that it is a clavicle-exposing deep-U.
Whoever called the white tee shirt a basic was wrong.
A denim jacket does not exactly fall under the group of sportswear unless you are a rodeo rider. Nonetheless, it gives a degree of structure to offset the softness of your joggers, in addition to more prosaically just not being a different piece of jersey, thereby saving you from having to go whole tracksuit or ‘Tesco tuxedo’.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule (there are not many of these Left in menswear) but you are probably best to steer clear of cowboy details in your denim jacket.
With Black Jeans
Double denim can be doubly good even if you flagrantly transgress the ‘distinct shades’ principle: see Martin Sheen in Badlands. Additionally, it may be very, very bad: see Justin Timberlake in your nightmares. But for a fail-safe means to splice jeans, blue and black is hard to beat.
Other colors of jeans can perform the same trick: gray, for one, and even white, although that introduces its pitfalls, and of course impracticalities. But like Wesley Snipes having a cheeky flutter on the Rugby World Cup, always bet on black.
With Indigo Jeans
A shade harder than black jeans, but not that hard, unwashed indigo denim will endure much less of a prospect of optically bleeding to some lighter or distressed denim jacket compared to lighter and/or distressed jeans, for reasons which should be apparent by reading this sentence.
It’s not like double, indistinguishably dark denim cannot ever be achieved.
With A Shirt And Tie
Yes, you can mix business with workwear. Make the partnership less what-the-hell by dialing down the dressiness of those other components to bring them more in line with your decidedly casual trucker: a button-down Oxford rather than a stiff-colored poplin; a knitted tie rather than woven silk; chinos rather than tailored pants.
With A Hoodie
This combo is a fallback for any menswear blogger attempting to look vaguely urban. Don’t let that put you off. A hoodie is a pure sparring partner to get a denim jacket because they are equally dressier, chuck-on weekend staples.
In that vein, don’t overdo it. Maintain the colors neutral and do not go too boxy together with all the matches of the hoodie. Avoid the brash symbols of streetwear’s latest drops and stick to some navy or gray marl under a blue denim jacket.
With Tailored Trousers
Like the shirt and tie, it helps if you can minimize the seeming discord between your casual jacket and smart trousers. That may be by jacking your jacket up in smartness with unwashed dark denim, also nominal bells and whistles like contrast stitching or rivets.
Likewise, you can pull your trousers down a notch in formality having a more substantial, nubby material that’s closer to denim over the spectrum. Or opt for a relaxed fit, a calculated span, or turn-ups.
With A Roll Neck
Anywhere you can wear a shirt, you can rock a rolled throat. Well, pretty much. However, before you knit up, think about your denim jacket’s finish, whether immaculate indigo or battered stonewash and the way that metaphorically stitches with your jumper.
If the latter’s too sheer and sheeny, there may be a dissonance with the rough, tough denim; too chunky and your jacket might appear insubstantial in contrast. (Generally speaking, layers must get thicker the farther away they get out of the human entire body, and vice versa)
With The Overcoat or Topcoat
As with a tailored blazer, your denim jacket should be slim fitting if you want to wear it under an overcoat. You need to just about be able to have two fingers down it when done up and it should be narrow-necked so that it doesn’t compete with your jacket’s lapels.
By its nature, the cleverest tailored outerwear includes a degree of ruggedness so this is not as incongruous as you might think. Do not be afraid to juxtapose, possibly: camel, which normally skews formal, maybe a very wonderful combo. Bonus points if your coat’s stitching matches the color.