The jean jacket is no longer a mere accessory or an extra layer. Let’s be honest, most of the time, it’s not even about staying warm. The jean jacket is a fashion icon. It’s a classic of the fashion world, but it’s also an ever-evolving piece of fashion.
Do you know all the types of jean jackets that have found their way into the style scene over the years? How many of you worn and how many will you wear after you learn more about them? It’s time to take a closer look at the iconic jean jacket and some of the different ways you can play around with wearing it.
The Accidental Fabric
It has become fashion legend that a tailor named Jacob Davis and a retail store owner named Levi Strauss took out a patent together on May 20, 1873, for a pair of work pants. Why was this pair of pants so special? Technically, this was the first pair of blue jeans. Yes, ever.
But the story of blue jeans goes back a bit further in history than this famous and historic day. Because blue jeans wouldn’t have been possible without one thing: denim. And denim was only possible because of some somewhat greedy fabric makers and a heck of a bad day at work.
Have you ever had a day at work so bad that you totally ruined a huge, huge project that took weeks to put into place? Yeah. That’s pretty much what happened one day in France.
So in France in the 1700s, a lot of fabric makers lived in a city called Nimes. The fabric makers sold bolts of cloth to clothing makers in the city. And at this time, a specific blue fabric was all the rage. Everyone wanted it. There was just one problem: it was foreign. The blue fabric that everyone preferred came all the way from Genoa, Italy.
French clothing makers were no dummies. They figured out that if they could copy that popular fabric, they could spend a lot less money buying fabric from Italy and having it brought to France. So, they set about to copy the fabric. It was a perfect plan. And then…well, they screwed it up.
They created a twill fabric blend, which means they wove together threads to create a strong fabric. They used indigo dye to create the blue color. But the fabric they created wasn’t the same as the popular Italian fabric. It was something different altogether. This material was thicker, the color was different, and the texture was different.
Actually, it was better. The fabric makers in Nimes had created something brand-new, a material that became known as “serge de Nimes.” This was ultimately shortened to denim. Strauss and Davis decided to use this material to make their riveted work pants. And after blue jeans were created and exploded on the market, it was pretty clear that denim was the magic that made the riveted pants work. Jeans had taken over the workwear market.
What else could be made of denim? Answering that question would lead to the creation of yet another iconic piece of fashion.
The First Jean Jacket
So where did the first jean jacket come from? Of course, it could only come from one source: Levi Strauss & Co. By 1905, the blue jean had swept the United States and had become the most popular work pants in all of style history. Business partners and creative geniuses Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss decided that if the pants were a hit…why not a shirt?
And just like that, the two designed the Levi’s Blouse in 1905. This was a denim shirt. It had four buttons, a single breast pocket, and a simple design. Miners and other laborers loved it right away. Soon, cowboys discovered the Levi’s Blouse and began wearing it along with their blue jeans, their cowboy hats, and their too-cool-for-school attitude. By 1930, Levi’s was selling a new version of the Levi’s Blouse called the Slim Jacket. This design was even more like the modern jean jacket.
But in 1930, the denim jackets were still only worn by cowboys, ranchers, miners, and other laborers who understood the value of tough, comfortable fabric. Everyday people, especially those in the cities, weren’t wearing denim jackets. That would all change thanks to a brand-new American industry that had emerged in the desert of the west: the movies.
Cowboy movies were in all the theaters in the 1930s and 1940s. Westerns were incredibly popular and made stars out of now-famous names like Gene Autry and John Wayne. The tough-talking men of the silver screen strutted up to their rivals, pistols ready, looking handsome and masculine. And they did it in denim jackets in order to look authentic.
Moviegoers noticed the jackets, and slowly, denim jackets made their way from the screen into American closets. But these early cowboys were just the beginning. A new crop of stars would soon fill the movie screens in full color. They were wearing denim jackets for a totally different reason. And when they did it, they struck a completely different vibe.
Emerging from the cowboy flicks of the 1930s and 1940s came the rebel films of the 1950s and 1960s. Suddenly, actors like James Dean and Steve McQueen were wearing denim jackets as a sign that they were sexy and cool. And that’s when absolutely everybody wanted to have a jean jacket of their own.
The style exploded on the fashion scene. Soon, the hot female stars were also wearing jean jackets. The item once enjoyed mainly by cowboys had become one of the hottest trends of the era. Jean jackets have never really gone out of style since.
Types of Denim
Denim has also changed over the years. Since that first mistake that led to the accidental creation of denim in the 1700s, people have been making little tweaks and changes to denim to create different types of this now-famous material. If you go looking for jean jackets, you will find that most of them are made with the most common types of denim.
Acid wash is one of the most recognizable types of denim and one that is often seen in jean jacket designs. This denim looks spotted or marbled, with faded blue color and patches of white running throughout.
You may not know how crushed denim is made, but you will know it when you see it. This denim is finished to have a wrinkled look to it that’s very identifiable. You will find this often in jean jackets.
Raw denim is not washed and treated after it’s dyed like standard denim. This makes the denim somewhat stiffer, and you will notice that it feels slightly rougher to the touch. The color is also a deep, steady blue. Raw denim is another popular choice for jean jackets, which actually work better if they’re a little stiffer and more durable.
Stretch denim is made with spandex, which creates a stretchy, flexible finished design. You’ll find this most often in skinny jeans, but stretch denim is sometimes used for jean jackets, too.
Different Types of Jean Jackets
You probably have a pretty good idea of what a jean jacket might look like. You’ve probably worn one or two in your time, or you can think of a celebrity wearing one. Maybe there’s one in a movie you love.
But not all jean jackets look exactly the same, though you may only be able to picture one style in your mind. There are different types of jean jackets that have their own distinctive looks. Get to know them, and you will know how to identify the styles you like best.
The classic jean jacket style, the one that you will undoubtedly find the most often in vintage shops, is about hip length. It has a shirt-style collar and dural breast pockets, with a row of buttons down the front. It also has vertical seams running straight down from the pocket to the hem of the jacket. This is a simple design that’s made to fit well, not too baggy, and not too loose.
The cowboy denim jacket has a spread collar that is typically a bit wider than classic denim jacket designs. The pocket flaps are usually more rounded and slightly more stylized in cowboy jean jacket designs as well.
Boyfriend jean jackets are made for women, not for men. Sometimes, these are called ex-boyfriend jackets. They’re made to look like a man’s jacket but actually, they’re designed for women. This style is slightly oversized and a little longer than hip length, with roomy sleeves and a somewhat baggy design throughout.
Combo jean jackets are made with a denim body and sleeves made in a different material, usually soft cotton. Sometimes, these jackets also have an attached hood made in the same fabric as the sleeves.
Cropped jean jackets are made to be shorter than classic denim jacket designs. These jackets are no longer than waist length.
Slim fit jean jackets are made to fit very close to the body. They are not tight, but they are form-fitting, more figure-flattering than classic jean jacket designs. Unlike traditional jean jackets, which hang straight, slim fit designs are more tapered.
Trucker jackets have classic looks that closely resemble traditional denim jacket designs. Though it is virtually indistinguishable from the classic jean jacket at first glance, Levi’s didn’t introduce their famous trucker jacket until the 1960s. That was way after they introduced the jean jacket itself, along with multiple other styles of the jacket.
The trucker jacket is actually a little shorter than the classic style. It is also somewhat more slim-fitting and slightly more tailored. The flap pockets are pointed, and the front seams that run from the pockets to the waist are ever-so-slightly slanted into more of a V shape rather than running straight as in the classic design. This contributes to the slightly more tapered fit of the trucker jacket.
There’s a lot to learn about jean jackets! There are different types of denim and different jacket designs, different features, and lots to think about. If you still have questions about jean jackets, that’s okay. We’ve got the answers to all the most commonly asked questions about jean jackets. Soon, you’ll know the stuff the experts know.
Are jean jackets business casual?
Jean jackets are amazing casual wear. They pair perfectly with blue jeans, of course, but they can be worn with all sorts of different pants to create all kinds of different looks. They’re so versatile! So are jean jackets business casual, too?
Though they are popular as casual wear, jean jackets cannot really be called business casual. Denim is a little too casual for any workplace. For over a century and a half, denim has been associated with “blue collar” work. It’s worn by farmers, miners, ranchers, and people who do tough, hands-on jobs of all kinds. And for now, it’s still considered too casual to be worn as office wear.
Can jean jackets go in the dryer?
It’s actually best to avoid washing your denim as much as possible, according to experts. Denim gets softer and even develops a patina over time, taking on distinct characteristics with wear. Denim naturally conforms to your body and fits better and better the more you wear it. Washing denim can cause it to lose its shape so that you have to break it in again. But if you have to wash them, can you put jean jackets in the dyer?
You can dry denim jackets in the dryer, but you have to do it carefully. Wet denim, if stretched or pulled or twisted, may become damaged. Heat also has a negative effect on denim. Because denim is made with cotton, the heat can make denim items shrink. To avoid this, dry jean jackets on the lowest heat possible and remove them while they are still damp. Lay jean jackets out flat on a towel to let them finish drying.
Can jean jackets be altered?
Whatever types of jean jackets you choose to wear, you want them to fit you perfectly. This is going to give you the best look and feel. A jacket that fits even a little bit wrong can ruin your look, your confidence, and your comfort. So can you have your jean jacket tailored so that it does fit you perfectly?
Well…yes and no. Jean jackets are made with denim, which is a thick material that is sewn together with topstitching, which creates a distinctly visible seam. This makes denim jackets difficult to alter and sometimes even impossible to alter. Some changes, such as shortening the sleeves and the hem, are pretty standard.
But if you need much more than this done, you might have trouble finding someone with the skill to tailor denim. It’s also expensive. Sometimes, you might pay more for alterations than for a new jean jacket.
Can jean jackets be worn in winter?
Jean jackets really are all-season wear. They’re such a classic fashion item, you can pretty much get away with wearing a jean jacket anywhere, anytime. If you want to wear a jean jacket in winter, wear it as a layer.
A jean jacket helps insulate your body against the cold if you wear it on top of a hoodie sweatshirt. This is a great way to add more color to your winter outfit while you keep yourself warmer, too.
You can also wear a jean jacket under another layer, keeping it buttoned up over a T-shirt. A jean jacket works well on top of a sweater dress as well. There are lots of different ways to wear a jean jacket in winter. Play around with different looks and you’ll come up with plenty of options.
How are jean jackets supposed to fit?
There are several different types of jean jackets, as you know. Some of them have variations in the way they look and fit. So how are you supposed to know how jean jackets are supposed to fit? It can be confusing sometimes but there is one sure way to check the fit of your jean jackets: the shoulders.
The shoulder seam of the jacket should be right at the curve of your shoulder where it becomes your arm. In other words, it should be at the end of your shoulder. The jacket should feel good and keep feeling good as you extend both arms all the way out in front of you. If you feel tightness across the back or in the shoulders, you need a larger jean jacket. If the shoulder seam of the jacket is sitting off your body where you can grab excess fabric or if it’s hanging down on your upper arm, the jacket is too big.
Jean jackets should fit through the body. Usually, the jacket should fit somewhat close to the body without being too tight anywhere. You shouldn’t feel any discomfort when the jacket is buttoned all the way up.
How long do jean jackets last?
Denim is known for being an incredibly hard-wearing and long-lasting fabric. In fact, some denim items that are more than 100 years old have been recovered. For the most part, a denim jacket will be with you for ten years or more when you take good care of the denim by not washing and drying it too much or exposing it to harsh weather conditions and rough treatment.
How can you find affordable jean jackets?
Jean jackets are such iconic and stylish pieces of fashion that everyone loves, people are willing to pay for them. Jean jackets can be somewhat expensive when you buy them brand-new, which means you don’t have a chance to buy as many of them as you might like. There are ways to find more affordable jean jackets, however.
Online stores often offer special deals and discounts you won’t find in brick-and-mortar locations. Scout out some jean jackets you’d like to buy at your favorite online store and wait for a sale. This will save you some money. You can also search for jean jackets in thrift shops, where you can often find vintage items for very discounted rates.
Choose a thrift shop that uses the items to support humanitarian causes, and you’ll actually be doing a good thing just by shopping!
History of Jeans – Denim History – Origin of Denim
Levi Strauss & Co. – The Evolution of an American Style Staple: The Jean Jacket
Levi Strauss & Co. – The History of Denim
Magic of Clothes – Can Denim Jackets be Tailored? (Cost of Tailoring)
Primer Magazine – What’s The Difference Between A Trucker Jacket And A Denim Jacket?
Sharp Confident Man – How a Jean Jacket Should Fit (Men’s Fit Guide)
WikiHow – How to Wash a Jean Jacket
WikiHow – How to Wear a Denim Jacket in Winter