Men’s Denim Jacket Outfit Inspiration: 18 Rugged Looks For Spring/Summer 2023
The classic blue collar jean jacket is a piece that should be hanging in every man's wardrobe. Our how to wear guide will help you get the most of it year round.
Few pieces of outerwear are more classic than the denim jean jacket. A casual wardrobe staple with decades of history behind it, it’s one of those four-season pieces that works as well in spring and summer as it does layered under an overcoat in winter.
Beginning life in the American west at the turn of the 20th century, it became known as much for its cowboy iconography as it did its durability and hardwearing, functional design. Today, denim jackets come in a variety of styles, from the classic western silhouette to more minimal workwear-inspired pieces.
Which one you go for depends on how you intend to wear it, but if you’re stuck for inspiration, you’re in the right place. We’ve got tips on finding the right style for you, as well as a wealth of jean jacket outfits for every occasion, from weekend casual through to office-ready looks.
Denim jean jackets: styling tips
Fit for function
The correct fit, as always, is everything. But today more than ever, fit is down to personal choice. The classic trucker-style denim jacket – with its flap chest pockets and V-shaped front seams – has traditionally been cut slim, with a short body that sits just around the waist. This provides a flattering look, but one that is slightly limited. You’ll struggle, for example, to layer a slim-fitting trucker over a hoodie; instead, it works perfectly over a T-shirt or polo shirt. For a roomier fit, it’s worth sizing up, finding one with a slightly oversized cut or going for a different silhouette entirely.
Earlier iterations of the denim jacket – the likes of which were worn by miners in the American west – were created in boxier fits, so if you’re looking for a more relaxed cut it might be worth seeking out a reproduction of the Type I or Type II denim jacket.
There are numerous other styles on the market today though, from denim chore jackets to denim bomber jackets, which all offer their own distinct look and feel.
Know your washes
Due to the nature of the fabric and how well it takes dye, denim jackets are available in all manner of colours (also referred to as ‘washes’) today. Traditionally, though, jean jackets were made from unwashed indigo fibres, which provide a deep, rich blue shade that’s incredibly easy to wear. If you’re buying your first denim jacket, go for a classic dark blue wash, which will combine well with virtually everything else in your wardrobe, from dark browns to vibrant reds and oranges.
Black is also a popular option – a black denim jacket is the perfect finishing touch to an all-black look made up of jeans, a T-shirt and work boots. Elsewhere, off-white or ecru makes for an alternative choice, and one that is surprisingly wearable. Perfect for the spring and summer months, a lighter colour denim jacket wears well with neutral, earthy shades – think green pants, stone polo shirts and brown Derbies.
Of course, the denim itself plays a big part in the jacket. If you’re a bit of a nerd, then chances are this might be the largest consideration – denim, after all, is a fabric people can be incredibly passionate about. Just ask those who only wash their jeans in the sea.
For the rest of us, it’s not too big of a deal, but one important thing to consider is stretch. Raw denim tends to be rigid, with no give, and requires breaking in similar to leather. It might be uncomfortable and slightly scratchy at first but raw, unwashed denim will give the best fades over time, while also moulding to your body. Wear a raw denim jacket for a few years and it will become like a second skin.
Go for denim with a bit of stretch however, or one that’s been prewashed, and you’ll get comfort straight off the bat. It won’t age quite as well, nor fade in the same unique way, but for all-out comfort it’s hard to beat.
Denim jean jacket outfits for men
Here’s a selection of modern, stylish jean jacket outfits suitable for a number of occasions. Use and save them as inspiration for your own everyday looks.
Streetwear-inspired jean jacket
Despite its status as a smart casual piece, denim jackets slot seamlessly into looks that take their inspirations from streetwear. Try combining a light-wash jean jacket with an off-white tracksuit and vintage sports cap – just make sure it’s boxy enough to accommodate the hoodie underneath.
Denim jacket with corduroy trousers
Denim is a textured, weighty fabric that looks its best teamed with materials that are similar in nature. Therefore, it comes alive in fall and winter, where it can be complemented with flannel, wool, leather and, as shown here, corduroy.
The tan-orange cords are the statement piece in this look, with the rich shades perfectly complemented by the deep indigo denim jacket. Grounded by black canvas sneakers, it’s a contemporary take on corduroys that negates any associations with your high-school professor.
Denim jacket with chinos
These two are the perfect match. For a casual weekend look you can wear virtually anywhere, combine a denim jacket with your favourite pair of chinos. Stick to neutral colours and minimal sneakers and it’s hard to go wrong.
Off-white denim jacket
Here’s why you should consider an off-white denim jacket. As long as you find one in a flattering slim fit, it’ll look great with dark blue jeans, green or navy chinos and even corduroy trousers. Finish with a grey T-shirt and low-top sneakers to channel classic American prep.
Washed black jean jacket
We’d usually advise going for black denim that hasn’t been washed, but find one with a slight fade and it can look just as good. Black denim doesn’t fade quite as nicely as indigo denim, but it can offer a bit of texture that provides a welcome point of difference to monochromatic looks.
Slim-fit denim jacket
Providing you’ve got an equally slim body type, a slim-fit denim jacket can be very flattering, accentuating your physique. For best effect, wear it over just a T-shirt or shirt to keep the overall silhouette streamlined.
Mid-blue jean jacket
Extremely versatile, a mid-blue washed denim jacket might be the most adaptable option you can buy. It looks more casual than dark blue, and due to the fading of the fabric, brings plenty of texture to an otherwise simple outfit.
The minimal denim jacket
For a more minimal jacket, you might want to consider finding a Harrington or bomber made from denim. Unlike the trucker, these don’t tend to have any extraneous detailing and can be the ideal finishing touch to pared-back looks such as this one.
Denim on denim
Double denim can be hard to make work, largely because the similarity in shades rarely complement each other. One easy way to master this advanced menswear move is by going with a completely different colour on the top and bottom half. Try a light-wash blue jacket with off-white denim jeans for a foolproof spring outfit.
The sherpa jean jacket
A common variation of the trucker is one lined in wool pile or sherpa. The lining often extends to the collar, giving your jean jacket more of a fall/winter look and feel. Wear it as you would a regular trucker and combine with chinos and tees.
Denim jacket & shorts
Depending on the weight of the fabric, a denim jacket can work well for warmer months with shorts. Just keep it simple by pairing a mid-wash version with tailored shorts, a button-through polo and low-top sneakers. Don’t be afraid to roll the sleeves up like you would with a shirt.
Smart casual denim jacket
The darker the denim the smarter the jacket looks. This means it can even work for business casual offices, especially when paired with tailored staples such as slim-fitting chinos, crew-neck sweaters and suede boots.
Double denim in the same colour can work if you’re careful and confident. Want to take the plunge? Make sure the top and bottom half aren’t exactly the same tone, like in this outfit example. Try raw denim jeans and a dark wash denim jacket and keep everything else as simple as possible.
The denim chore jacket
Chore jackets are usually made from cotton twill, but find one in denim and you’ll have a durable piece of outerwear that looks as good as it performs with its large pockets and comfortable fit. Wear it over tees and polos or layer it under a coat in the winter – the denim will add plenty of texture to your outfit either way.
Jean jacket layering
Typically, denim jackets look best when nothing is poking out from under them. They tend to be short in the body, which makes it difficult to wear anything too long underneath without looking sloppy.
But for some reverse layering action, try a collared shirt with a hem that finishes just below the jacket, which’ll add a nice bit of depth to your outfit.
If you’re in the market for a bright white denim jacket, try going with a nautical theme, combining it with a Breton stripe T-shirt and navy chinos. Just avoid going anywhere near food or small children.
Summer jean jacket
Opt for a jacket in a light colour denim and it can work as an ideal summer layer. Perfect for wearing in the evenings once the sun has gone down, combine yours with a knitted polo, shorts and boat shoes and you’ll have a vacation-ready outfit that’s both breezy yet warm enough for night out on the town.
90s Grunge denim jacket
Channel 90s grunge with your denim by referencing the era’s skate aesthetic. Here, cropped, wide-leg black pants are matched with black canvas high-tops and a black logo sweatshirt to set the foundation of a practical, effortlessly-cool look.
The light wash denim sherpa jacket contrasts perfectly against this dark base, while bringing a grungy, Kurt Cobain feel to proceedings.