Why has the denim jacket been a menswear staple since the days of gold-hunting prospectors and other folks trudging their way across our continent? Easy. It’s tough. Versatile. Classically American. Cool. The denim jacket, much like the barn coat, has evolved alongside America, remaining a trusted staple across many decades. Whether worn by ranch workers, rock stars, or regular guys on the street, it’s undeniably iconic. The best denim jackets today continue that tradition. They maintain the easy-to-throw-on-over-everything appeal, but they also have modern styling and features that make them even more versatile. While the denim jacket always has a place in your wardrobe, spring is the ideal time to wear one. The warm-ish weather makes it the ideal layer when you’re finally able to make your post-winter debut sans parka. Here, then, from trucker jackets and work coats to streamlined throwbacks and more modern takes in black denim and faded denim, are some of our favorites.
Levi Strauss originated the denim jacket in the late 1800s, but it wasn't until the 1960's that the company released its first proper trucker jacket. This version owes a debt of gratitude to that original. Pointed flap chest pockets and V-shaped contrast front-seam stitching make this a true trucker jacket, adding needed reinforcement at key stress points. The dark wash and that gold contrast stitching echo the same design found on Levi’s jeans, a classic touch that never fails.
Denim jackets are often stiff, growing softer with every wear and wash. But Wrangler’s take is strikingly soft from the start, thanks to hemp blended with the cotton. The spread collar jacket is also pleasantly faded, and looks like you’ve had it for years (in the best way). While many denim jackets feature straight pockets, those here are slanted for easier access.
The $60 price point is certainly sweet. But it’s the stretch that really seals the deal on this jacket. There’s loads of it here, thanks to 23 percent polyester and one percent elastane. This makes it so damn comfortable that you’ll forget you’re wearing a jean jacket. No joke.
This jacket is one of the dozen items in Everlane’s Uniform Collection — an array of staples that, mixed and matched, can be worn every day. (Everything in that collection comes with a 365-day guarantee, too.) Whether you throw it on every day or not, the all-black jacket is a great, minimalistic option. One thing to note: The 100 percent cotton build isn’t ultra-stretchy by any means. But for the price, it’s a solid entry.
The deep indigo colorway here is certainly eye-catching. Even better, it will fade handsomely over time. But it’s the unique trucker jacket design details – like reinforced patch-pocket stitching at the hip – that give Uniqlo’s well-priced take a nice throwback appeal. .
Looking for a denim jacket with some warmth for those colder nights? This Faherty number, which is made with sustainable organic cotton and looks like something you’d find tucked away in a vintage store, is lined with faux shearling through the body and collar. Snap buttons make it easy to bundle up on chillier evenings, even if you’re wearing a pair of lightweight gloves (no fumbling with buttonholes). The striking indigo wash is already faded for comfort right out of the box, but we’d wager you’ll wear this one enough to make it your own.
At its core, the denim jacket is a tough-as-nails piece that had to stand up to just about anything in decades past. This Todd Snyder edition pays homage to its hard-wearing origins by respecting tradition and using rigid, made-in-Louisiana selvage denim. Based on 1940s workwear styles, its oversized, visually striking hip slant pockets can hold your entire daily carry and then some. The result is a true-to-history denim jacket, one that starts out stiff and breaks in beautifully over time. If ever there were an heirloom denim jacket, this is it.
Jeans and jean jackets and rain don’t really mix. They turn heavy and become wildly uncomfortable. But Duer’s is a different breed. It’s coated with DWR Water Repellent Coating for optimal performance on wet, windy days. Polyester and spandex make up 30 percent of the fabric blend, giving this jacket a nice amount of stretch.
Tecovas has won over plenty of Cowboy boot skeptics with its modern, surprisingly premium renditions of classic staples. They’ve used the same recipe for their trucker jacket. Modeled after real-world, ranch and field-ready jackets, it has a corduroy collar that protects the neck from debris and dust. At 14 ounces, the denim is heavier than usual but wears much easier than stiff selvage. Antique brass buttons drive home that vintage feel.
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