Re-using the Denim Jacket


I am often surprised by the number of friends and acquaintances of mine who admit to owning, though rarely using, a jacket constructed of denim. I am a monumental hypocrite in this regard, as I still own one bought earlier in my youth; one which I enjoyed wearing with smart black trousers, a white shirt, a slim black tie and black loafers.

Though not an offensive aesthetic in retrospect, it is fair to say that I have moved on – in both age and style – since those days and, though I cherish the fond memories of wearing the jacket as well as wrapping it around the shoulders of ludicrously underdressed young ladies on a stumble home, I have not found many uses for it recently.

This is not without trying, as I have often attempted to mix it into an ensemble for an evening’s fun on the town. The trouble is, I look at the jacket and see myself eight or nine years ago; a cocky, floppy-haired whippet. As I scan up to my aging face, conservative hairstyle and tired eyes, it becomes clear that I need to rethink my continual efforts to reincorporate it into my regular wardrobe. Call it age denial, call it sentimentality, but I cannot find the courage to bin the thing. Instead of being anti the denim jacket aesthetic, I have come to the conclusion that I simply don’t understand it anymore.

However, on pondering its removal to make some much needed space in my reserve wardrobe, I thought through some potential ensembles which, come the spring, may be worth attempting. It is often worn with matching jeans, which is a disastrously studied and dated look, though there are some who wear it with denim of a contrasting tone and texture; a stonewashed jacket with new denim, and vice versa. However, I think it is best deployed when no other denim is on show, particularly with khaki chinos; it needs to stand out, and therefore needs contrasting materials and colours.

This is perhaps why, in my mind, a suitable spring ensemble for a denim jacket might be a pair of slim fitting khakis, a white shirt, a denim jacket and a pair of sockless penny loafers. Arguably, still a youthful look but one which a man nearing thirty has more confidence in attempting. Adventurous chaps may wish to add a seersucker bow tie to prep it up and, for the Layerists, to button up a slim-fitting denim jacket under a cream trench; keeping it Americana-but-still-Ivy-League will prevent it going the way of the cowboy hat.