How to Wear a Denim Jacket

shutterstock 46361929 How to Wear a Denim Jacket
Out of all the trends to return to prominence, perhaps none was as unexpected as the denim jacket. A longtime favorite of long haul truckers and ranch hands, the denim jacket has recently made a return into the forefront of fashion.

To help answer basic questions of fit, fade, and lining, EveryGuyed has assembled a basic guide to this piece of Americana.

The Look

image1x2 How to Wear a Denim Jacket
The denim jacket is one of those items that exude an effortless air of rugged masculinity and machismo. It’s really a question of how well it will integrate into the rest of your wardrobe, since denim jackets work in tandem with the rest of your outfit. A denim jacket adds an undeniable dressed down sense to any outfit, so be sure this is something you feel you can pull off.

The Denim

Picture 10 How to Wear a Denim Jacket
Levi’s first denim jacket was sewn in 1905, and sold to compliment its existing line of jeans and work wear. The denim was tough, and it held up against the wind, the cold, the rain, and whatever else a workingman could throw at it. A jacket made of raw, dark denim channels this spirit, and shows off a subdued, classic style.

Denim jackets also had a brief renaissance in the mid-1990s, and you can cop that era’s style with a faded denim jacket paired with a flannel shirt. This look channels the unpretentious rugged style of the infamous Seattle musical export: grunge. A great casual ‘slacker’ outfit for those under 30, older men who try and rock this style end up looking like they’re still mourning the death of Kurt Cobain.

The Liner

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Liner, or no liner? This is one of the more difficult questions that you can ask when deciding on a denim jacket. Every liner really adds its own unique character to the jacket, so make your decision carefully based on what really appeals to you.

  • No liner: A popular, fashion conscious choice that cuts a slim figure, and allows the jacket to even be worn as a layer underneath an overcoat without becoming too bulky.
  • Flannel liner: A more country look that’s popular for men looking to add some rustic appeal to their wardrobe. Looks good on cooler nights, but be aware that it adds some bulk to your frame.
  • Shearling liner: The classic farm boy look, a shearling (or lambskin) liner adds warmth and manliness to a denim jacket. Shearling liners are usually seen only on the most rugged of outdoorsmen, and folksiest of folk singers so consider your context wisely.

The Cut

image1xl2 How to Wear a Denim Jacket
Pulling off a denim jacket ultimately comes down to finding one that fits. When deciding on a cut, consider the jacket’s construction, and figure out what you’ll be wearing the jacket with and ultimately what kind of look you’re looking to construct. Punk? Go slim and distressed. Country? Get one with a little more room for pairing with a classic flannel shirt. And remember to consider your needs just as you consider the fit; the denim jacket is all about practicality.

Wearing The Jacket

Tips for wearing a denim jacket are simple.

  • Never ‘double up’ on denim. If you’re wearing a denim jacket, that means no denim jeans, and definitely no denim shirts. If you’re not sure go with khaki or corduroy pants.
  • If you must mix denims, mix up the washes. Extremely dark wash jeans and a faded shearling-lined jacket is a great example.
  • Never wear your jacket with shorts. No exceptions.
  • Try pairing your jacket with a stiff pair of khakis and a dress shirt for a casual Friday look, or ragged cords and a t-shirt for a grunge-inspired casual outfit.
  • To preserve the wash, treat the jacket as you would if it were a pair of jeans. Wash infrequently, and expect some shrinkage with hot-water washes.
  • Don’t wear the jacket too often, unless you want to be known as ‘that denim jacket guy’, which is a terrible thing to be known as.


  • Though more versatile than given credit for, the denim jacket is still something of a niche piece; with a time, place, and personal style climate required for pulling it off.
  • Difficult to pull off sometimes, you can rock the denim jacket by sticking to a few key points.
  • Buy for your look.
  • Buy according to your needs.
  • Don’t double up on denim when you wear it.


Denim questions? Brand advice? Just feeling lonely? Use the comment box below and get in on the discussion!


Xiaoli Li
Xiaoli Li is an often-missed former editor at the EveryGuyed network. He's currently working as a freelance writer, and probably yelling at a soccer game somewhere out there.
Xiaoli Li

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What's on your mind?

  1. I respectfully disagree with your “no denim jacket w/shorts” comment. While i do think it’s important not to over do it. I do think in spring one can get away with it. Buttoned at the top, proper length khaki shorts…it can be pulled off IF you have the style to do it. love the site though

    • I’m picturing what you recommended, and I think I can definitely see what you mean. It’s tricky for a lot of guys though – we wanted to give a basic rundown for guys new to the whole denim jacket thing.

      Glad you liked it, Danny!

  2. “Out of all the trends to return to prominence, perhaps none was as unexpected as the denim jacket.”

    Really? I honestly disagree, it comes with no surprise that its back. The denim jacket is a spring/summer staple that comes back strong every couple years, and for some (larger/commercial) companies every year.

    I also recommend investing in a dark denim jacket and letting it age and distress naturally to past down to a friend or your kid.

    It will always be a classic, just a matter of when to pull it out of the closet.

  3. So I’m surprised no one asked where one could buy the jackets featured in the article?the one modeled by the young guy under “the look” is awesome! Where can I buy it? Thanks.

  4. Never wear a denim jacket with jeans? Whoever wrote this is ignorant about real style. Btw, what kind of fashionable dude wers kaky trousers anyways?

  5. Intellectual twaddle. Go West young man out of the city. Denim Jackets may have been style trends with butterfly fashionistas but have always been a casual wear staple among real people. No lined is for warmer climes, flannel and sherpa is for colder climes (folk singers? C’mon). As practical as jean pants.

  6. The denim jacket can be hard to pull off, and often I don’t think people fully realize the item’s versatility. They have always been worn by the “working class” but now that young trust fund hipsters are snatching them up online for hundreds of dollars, designers have finally started offering a more diverse array of styles, cuts and washes. This article does a great job differentiating them, but if you’d like to read more about the “style” and “aura” of the denim jacket, check out my post at http://niceshoesasshole.tumblr.com/post/27807389213/blue-and-beige.

  7. Don’t pair the denim jacket with jeans? What kind of crap advice is this? Find any movie where the male lead is wearing a jean jacket, and chances are, he’ll be pairing it with a pair of faded blue jeans. If you pair a denim jacket with anything but, chances are you will look like a dweeb who is not masculine enough to pull off the rugged Texas tuxedo look. Trying to dress a denim jacket up with khakis and neck ties just looks ridiculous. Buy a nylon jacket or something if that’s your style.

  8. I think what the message should be is: Don’t double-up on the same color jeans as your jean jacket. That, to me, looks odd. I’m ordering a black denim jacket and I will wear it with acid-washed jeans, light blue jeans, white jeans, etc. Looks “rocker” with any tattoos you can show off by rolling up the sleeves a quarter-leangth up. I would never wear matching black jeans with a black denim jacket, though.

  9. You can sure wear denim together, just not the same shade. As for some of the other comments about people do, yeah people do – badly or people did in the 80’s.

    • Depends on the aesthetic you’re going for. ‘Undersized’ denim jackets have been a signature of the punk movement for a long time, and have recently found their way into mainstream fashion. A sized-down jacket should look purposefully so and will take confidence to pull off.

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