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Why the denim jacket is about to be your most-worn item

Why the denim jacket is about to be your most-worn item

Blame it on the casual cool of Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” but we’re holding up our hands for the tried-and-true denim jacket all over again. It's endlessly versatile, synonymous with effortless iconoclasm, and steeped in fashion history. In fact, the world has enjoyed the denim jacket for nearly 140 years, thanks to Levi Strauss, who produced the style to go with the jeans he created 10 years earlier. Like jeans, the denim jacket was originally worn as a practical item for labour-intensive workers who needed something bombproof enough to withstand the grit and grind of life on the railroad or the ranch, and that workwear DNA still lives on today. 

It's this history, as well as the decades of wear by rebellious teens, big screen heartthrobs, and cowboys of the Wild West, that has solidified the denim jacket as an icon of effortless cool. You may have gotten used to the denim as a go-to second layer during warmer months, but the beauty of the denim jacket is it lends an easy, off-duty vibe during any season. Yes, the colder ones too. 

If you really want to harken back to those workwear roots, our stylists advise investing in better quality denim – selvedge denim specifically. Selvedge refers to a tightly woven band on the edges of the fabric, which basically means it’ll never fray. “The Workers Club, Hawksmill, Nudie and Levi’s are my favourite denim brands,” says Thread stylist Alice Watt, “and in terms of colour, the choice is yours. Whether you opt for a dark, light or even ecru colours, there’s a way to make them work in all seasons.” And when it comes to fit? Go for a size that isn’t super snug so that it’s easier to layer. What’s more, going a little bigger will sneakily tap into this season’s ‘oversized’ trend without you even noticing. 

Year-round, the function of the denim jacket is a no-brainer. During autumn in particular, it works mainly as an outer layer to throw on over any casual ensemble and keep chills at  bay. It can be worn (dress code permitting) at work, during your weekend antics, on date night, or even to a festival. “There are no strict rules on styling,” Alice advises, “that’s the beauty of a denim jacket. You can just simply throw it on and go.” 

Beyond styling it over a shirt and a pair of chinos or a t-shirt and jeans to create a Canadian tuxedo, a denim jacket can dial down the punchiness of statement shirt, making it less intimidating. It also mingles seamlessly with streetwear-inspired pieces, and for older guys wanting to get in on this trend, the addition of classic denim makes it instantly more wearable. 

The question is, when cold weather begins to take its toll and we start to reach for our wool overcoats, do denim jackets still have a place in our get-ups? The answer is yes. Overcoming this styling challenge is where denim jackets really show their adaptability. Layer your denim jacket over a shirt or jumper, then layer further with a coat to create a contrasting sandwich of sorts between dark winter tones – this will keep you warm while also jacking up your style score in a big way. 

If you’re not one to play it safe, wear lighter colours associated with spring during winter, throwing in an ecru denim jacket under your overcoat and pairing with light greys and pinks. You’ll quite literally be sunshine on a cloudy day. However you choose to wear them, denim jackets are underrated governors of casual style. From January to December, denim jackets will work as hard as the cowboys of its origins – if you allow them to.


Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Alice Watt