When I started my style consulting business many years ago, I thought that everyone liked wearing denim jackets. After all, they’re a timeless item in a fluid or tailored fit, very versatile, an excellent topper option for dresses and skirts, a way to toughen a sweet or precious outfit, and one of the best ways to dress down an outfit. They’re excellent to travel with because they’re robust, can be stashed into a tote, and look as great layered under a wrap or cocoon coat. 

Well, it turns out that denim jackets are far from being loved by all. Many women say they feel:

  • Stiff
  • Masculine
  • Boxy
  • Uncomfortable 
  • Overly casual
  • Not age appropriate
  • Unflattering on a larger bust

And if you’re not into denim on denim, they are not the best topper to combine with jeans.

I understand the aversion to denim jackets much better these days. That said, most of my clients wear denim jackets, and some of them are complete denim jacket converts. Clients who are in their 70s and 80s wear denim jackets with panache. So do clients who have a larger bust, are very curvy all over, and plus sized. And wearing denim on denim can be done if you mismatch the washes (although keeping the washes the same is a fashionable look too). 

Enjoying a denim jacket is about finding just the right one. Often it’s about making sure it satisfies four important criteria: stretch, fit, length and wash. 

1. Stretch

It’s important to wear a denim jacket with a stretchy spandex content. The stretch makes the jacket soft, comfortable, and allows you to drive and commute with ease. The silhouette moulds to your natural silhouette so that it isn’t boxy, and you don’t feel bulky. 

2. Fit

A tailored fit that nips in at the waist is a flop proof way to go. It offsets feelings of “looking too masculine”, overly casual, and streamlines the torso. A fluid fit can be just as fab, especially if you prefer to wear fluid tops. Denim jackets can be successfully altered to fit too. 

3. Length

A denim jacket looks particularly good when it’s a bit shorter, especially when it’s paired with skirts and dresses. Beware of denim jackets with very curved hems because the style can look overly long and a little dated. More often than not, my client doesn’t like her denim jacket because it’s too long and boxy. As soon as we tailor the fit and crop the length, it’s a different animal. Buy a petite size if you’re not regular height or tall, and notice the enormous difference in proportions. 

4. Wash

If you don’t like to wear denim on denim in the same wash as your jeans, choose a denim jacket in a different blue wash, or opt for a white or black denim jacket. For a dressier look that might feel more age appropriate to your eye, opt for a darker wash, a uniform blue wash, or stick to white. 

Oversized denim jackets can make a trendy statement, but you have to embrace a look that is not traditionally flattering. I tried them, but didn’t like the visual effect on my narrow shoulder line (they were better in the ‘80s with my shoulder pads.) So I stick to fitted and fluid denim jackets in shades of blue. I have an assortment of lengths depending on how I want to incorporate the topper into outfits. Denim jackets are a wardrobe essential for my style, and I will absolutely wear denim on denim with mismatched washes. I just added a pretty statement piece with embroidery to my capsule, which you can see in the collection below. 

Who likes to wear denim jackets? If you’re not a denim jacket wearer, have I convinced you to give them a try?