All About Denim Jackets

I have always appreciated the casual attitude and versatility of a classic denim jacket. I kept buying them, but they never seemed right for me when it came time to wear them. After donating and selling a few, I have discovered why some work for me and others don’t.

A medium to dark wash blue denim with no adornments, distressing, or rips work best for me. The arms need to be slim and straight but not so tight that I can’t wear the jacket over a thin sweater. The collar needs to be small and neat but lay open or stand up as needed. The pockets should not be too small – anything less than three inches wide looks too Junior Department and makes me appear larger. When the pockets are placed higher on the jacket, it is much more flattering for women with full busts.

Buttons on casual styles should always be aged metal, never bright shiny silver or gold. Vertical seaming and side pockets are slenderizing. Shoulder seams should rest neatly at the edge of the shoulders. Dropped shoulder seams and dolman styles add visual weight to the bust.

The hem on the classic style lands about mid-hip. They can look great on most body types if you keep your base layers fitted instead of flowing.

My basic denim jacket is old from Talbots. I found similar ones herehere – and here.

Basic

Cropped styles look best on an inverted triangle body shape when worn over a longer loose-fitting top. These shorter, more fitted jackets look great on women with short legs and an hourglass or pear shape since they don’t hide your waist or cut off the length of your legs visually. The cropped jacket below is here.

Cropped

Oversized, longer jacket styles look best when the garments beneath are more fitted to the body. The oversized style should have a fuller back similar to a bomber-jacket. Longer jacket styles look best on women with a rectangle or an apple body shape. The longer styles are always more flattering worn open. The jacket below is here.

Oversized

The black jeans are here. The black long-sleeved T‑shirt is here. A similar denim jacket is here. The loafers are here. A similar bag is here. A similar scarf is here. The no-show socks are here. My simple pearl earrings are here. (Use the code SAS10 For $10 off any one item at Beauty in Stone Jewelry.)


The jacket below has been in my collection for about four years. It has some stretch and is more fitted, so I’m showing it worn as a top. Styling a blue denim jacket with other colors of jeans is effortless. You can take the look in any direction you wish, and it always seems to work. Here, I’ve gone a bit more Palm Beach with my accessories. A similar jacket is here and here – similar shoes here – similar bag here.

This jacket style is a good choice for those with a fuller bust because the pockets are well above the bustline, and the color is dark. The fabric has a bit of stretch, and the silhouette is fitted to the body.


The band jacket style can also work well in denim. The boxy cut of the jacket below looks best with a V-neckline top tucked in or belted so that your waistline doesn’t disappear. I’ve paired this dark denim jacket with silver/gray items to give it a bit of polish.

Similar jackets are herehere and here. A similar camisole is here. A similar bag is here. Similar shoes are here.

Here and here are dark denim jackets that would flatter women with small shoulders.


My favorite denim jacket, shown below, always feels authentic to my personal style.

While all of the jackets I’m showing you today are made from denim, the styles vary greatly. The classic trucker style may feel too casual for you, but there are other options. Denim jackets and their variations can be worn to tone down any look and make it feel more relaxed.

A similar jacket is herehere and here. A similar bag is here. Similar shoes here.

Even if you never intend to wear a jacket or blazer closed, it should always fit so that you can actually close it.

There is a denim jacket to fit your style personality from classic to dramatic. The versatility and casual vibes that come with these jackets are modern, relaxed, and comfortable. I always aim for modern styling instead of youthful.

I launder and steam or iron denim jackets as needed but always avoid the dryer. Before returning a sweater or jacket I have worn to my closet, I always turn it inside out and hang it on an over-the-door hook for a couple of days to air out. I only use perfume, lotion, or hair spray before getting dressed. All my jackets and blazers are stored on wooden hangers to help maintain their shape.

The next photo shows a wooden hanger (found here) in use on an over-the-door hook (similar here).

Denim jackets or blazers can be appropriate for anything from running errands to a dinner date with creative styling.

The following additional pictures show these jackets as I’ve worn them in the past.

Shopping links in my posts may provide a small commission for me at no additional cost to you.

75 Comments
  1. Nicely done! I own 4 jean jackets – white, dark wash, faded and animal print. I wear them all year round. Thanks for the post about how to wear them. In the fall, I wear them over a shirt and sometimes a hooded zip up sweatshirt to layer and keep warm. I also like to wear mine over a dress for more options.

    Thank you for the ideas.

  2. I gave up on wearing jean jackets a long time ago because they never looked right on me. You’ve given me the motivation and information to hopefully wear them successfully. Thank you for a great article Susan!

  3. Excellent tips, Susan! I’ve been considering adding another denim jacket to my wardrobe, now I have plenty of rationale and ideas for making a versatile yet different choice from what I already own.

    Yes, Patti! I also enjoy layering a denim jacket over a dress, especially if I want a more casual look yet still want to choose a dress to wear.

  4. Thanks so much for the link to the drop pearl earrings. I have been wanting a pair in that exact style for several months but have been too lazy to track them down. The discount code made them even better. They have been ordered.

  5. Wow. I had no idea about all the differences there is on these jackets. What an awesome and amazing article! Thank you so much.

  6. Thank you for posting this…I just bought that same Talbots jean jacket on ebay (NWT)!!! Great find….I have an off topic question for you…I know that you usually wear straw type hats when you walk. in warm weather…what kind of hat do you wear in cooler weather. THX

  7. Oh, I see “toboggan”. As a Yankee transplant, my kindergartener was told to bring in a toboggan to go Christmas caroling. As it was 50 degrees and not snowing, I had no idea why she needed to bring a sled to school. Had to ask my neighbor only to find out it is a kind of hat!

    1. I’m with you, MC, my Yankee sister. A toboggan is a sled. How did I reach this age without knowing a toboggan was also a hat, or rather a beanie? Never too old to learn!

  8. Thanks for including the longer style jacket. Just ordered it. Because I am tall with long arms and legs, the shorter styles are not flattering. They look like a crop top on me and sit at the widest part of my frame. Excited to try it on.

  9. You always offer such pertinent styling ideas, Susan. These many ways to wear a denim jacket are helpful and you look fabulous in each one. I have 4 blue denim jackets, but I seem to wear a white one more than the blues.
    Would you consider doing a post on jeans – styling options, how to wear with booties and how to get a proper fit? My jeans are fine for the first hour, then they start to fall down! Did you show a tailor’s solution for this problem in a past post?
    Thanks and keep well.

    1. Most jeans these days have a bit of stretch to them, so I buy them to fit snug. I don’t have as much of that problem now that I’ve switched to mostly Talbots ankle jeans. They don’t stretch to a bigger size by the end of the day.

  10. Hi Susan, I love your style! Could you share with me how many pairs of footwear you own? Shoes, sandals, boots etc? Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. It is only important to have what you need for your lifestyle. I haven’t counted my footwear, but I have various styles and colors that I enjoy. I’ve also been a blogger for almost ten years, so my collection includes many gifts.

  11. I have decided that jean jackets belong to another time and place in my life. The bottom band is always problematic with my hips. Utility jackets lack this bottom band, and are a much better option for me now. Utility jackets are often made from lightweight denim, so they are less boxy and suit my curves. Besides, they come in many colors, so I have more choices. I will take a hard pass on the current jean jacket trend.

  12. Just my opinion, but I think you look younger with the longer hair style. Thank you so much for all your most informative posts. Lots of great ideas.

  13. I love anything denim!! I just purchased a really cute denim jacket from Chico’s that is the longer type and has a bit of a stretch to it. I’ve worn denim jackets since I was a teen. My favorite denim Levi jacket that I wear the most is one that belonged to my son when he was in the 8th grade. He is now 37!! It still has his name written on the tag.

  14. Great post Susan! I need help with a sizing question-I am 5’5”, 130 pounds, small shoulders, arms, not long legs, but with a large, full bust. I buy larger tops and have them altered down but not always with success. I’ve seen thru reading your blog that I tend to dress in a way that makes me look larger than I am. I would be grateful for any ideas. Thank you.

    1. Small tailored shoulder pads may be the answer to balancing out your looks. Try on some tops with embellishment details high on the shoulders near your face, and make sure the rest of the garment skims the body and is very simple. Dark neutral colors on top will likely also be good choices for you.

  15. Thanks for this great post – could you do the same for a STRETCH denim shirt? I am having a difficult time sourcing this on any website. As for the toboggan hat, we call that a Canadian toque (tooq) but I need to wear a lumberjack hat when snow blowing. Keeps the frosty flakes away from my hairdo, and I can match the plaid to my Cougar boots for some stylin! Our kids wear reflective hats in winter so we can see them over the snowbanks…..thanks to Roots!

  16. Another fantastic post. I would like to thank you, again, for the collage of pics you posted. Makes saving the outfit ideas so easy.

    I actually ordered two moto jackets this week, after seeing you highlight them in the past (being on reduced sale made that easy). You’ve motivated me to try new and exciting pieces, yet ones that will last through a few seasons/years.

    Be well.

  17. Do you have any tips to soften the denim fabric? I’d like to wear a jacket inside with a sleeveless top underneath but the fabric is just too stiff.. Thank you
    Btw. I think you look great no matter which hairstyle length

  18. My favorite denim jacket was bought from the discount rack for $3.00 almost 30 years ago. I’ve had others but they were never just right. I’ve worn this jacket for 20 years. I didn’t get rid of it when I gained weight. After successfully losing weight, the jacket is perfect again. I get compliments every time I wear it. Best purchase ever!

  19. I love the looks of the denim jackets. My only issue I have with denim jackets is I always feel too ‘cold’ when I wear them. I find going outdoors I am too chilly. The inside of the sleeves are not wind breaking enough. It is impractical to put on another coat or jacket over the denim. Is there any solution? I would love to wear my nice denim jackets more, but the fabric is cold in the Fall and too hot on a summer day.

    1. Yes, you can layer over and under the denim jackets. I have seen longer ones belted under wool blazers and over cashmere sweaters with a beautiful warm scarf folded over in the front.

  20. What suggestions do you have for us over 60’ers for jeans? I dislike sweat pants and will wear leggings with tunics and boots. But I need a good fitting jean, that fits fuller figure women. Thank you.

  21. You give such fantastic advice. I’m enjoying your blog immensely. Looking to retire and finding myself again. I’m having issues with pants/jeans these days. I’m 5’2”. My waist has thickened so now more rectangular in shape unsuccessfully trying to lose weight, though trying. If I size jeans to my hips the waist is tight (especially high waisted). If I size to the waist the seat is baggy and to add insult to injury my thighs are very slim so everything bags out back there. Trying to find a lower rise has the danger of muffin tops. I’ve almost given up and may just wear a sack. Any advice?

    1. My friend has the same issues as you. She tried these jeans and it solved all her problems. She just has to make sure she wears them with the top out. If she gets them tailored, it is much cheaper because there is no zipper or button to account for.

      1. I wonder if your friend ever tried buying jeans in the men’s or boys dept? It would be interesting to see if buying by waist size and length as men do would work for her. I don’t have that problem (I’m a pear), but think I’d try that if I did.

  22. I echo the issues you had in buying denim jackets, and never wear them. I have ordered the long one, since the short or banded ones that hit mid hip, don’t work for me. Thanks for clarifying that in this post. Be safe and well, Susan. xoxo

  23. Your description of who looks best in the cropped DKNY jacket fits my body type to a T. I actually purchased the jacket two weeks ago and love how it fits.

  24. Thank you so much for such a great post! I’ve never seen anyone do anything like this with only denim jackets. I happen to have them in several colors, including a white one in linen, and I wear them all the time. It is so helpful, though, to know how to choose them for your particular frame.

  25. Yes I was also scratching my head at the tobbagan reference. In Canada that is a sled. We refer to these hats as toques. Lol. It is funny sometimes on the different terms from country to country.

  26. I live in the mountains and denim jackets are a staple of my wardrobe all year long. I probably own at least ten. Most were purchased at Chicos or Chicos via EBay. My favorite is a light wash with crewel flowers on the collar and back. I usually wear tees and jeans and accent with Native American jewelry.

  27. Thank you. This is extremely helpful and full of styling ideas which I will use. I have copied your pairings in the past but it is useful to see options again and your reasoning behind garment choices. I appreciate the effort you have put into your blog.

  28. You look stunningly beautiful in the blue double row of button jacket with all black underneath

    Great picture with that outfit with the 2 white pillars. I will have to give that wonderful combination a try. Susan you really have talent and an eye for combining clothing

    I guess you have always liked clothes and wearing them with your beautiful figure

    Do another updated series on how to look slimmer and taller for Fall and winter

    Hugs Sue from The Napa Valley

  29. What are your thought on a denim jacket with a ruffle on the bottom? Chico’s has a cute one but I am pear shaped with a larger bust and don’t know if it would be flattering.

    I also love the band jacket with the dark dress you show. Lovely outfit.

    Thank you for the hard work you put in your blog. I love reading your posts.

  30. Thank you so much for this informative post on denim jackets. I love the look on others but never managed to get it right for me. NowI know I’ve been wearing the wrong style for my size and shape. I also appreciate your tips for caring for clothing items.

  31. Another great post! I have an unrelated question. Have been wearing Shapeez bras ever since I found out about them from you. Wondering how often to replace? How do you decide? How many do you own at a time? Love your blog, your pics. Thanks for all!

  32. Susan thank you for this post. I love jean jackets in denims and other cotton fabrics… in denim blues and other colors.
    I am short, so finding the perfect fit for me isn’t easy. I have found that banded crop jackets look too boxy on me. I prefer ones that are just a bit longer and tapered in at the waist. I have started wearing longer tops/shirts that hang out under the jacket and this also helps give a longer look.

  33. A denim jacket is just what I’m looking for now! Thank you for sharing the lovely fall scenes! How do you store your sweaters – hung or folded? And, if folded, how? I’d love to see a detailed article on your closet, like the recent picture of scarves! Thanks!

  34. Hey Susan! Thank you for all your suggestions about clothes in general. You’ve taught me a lot, lol.
    I have several jean jackets also, but my favorite is from Chico’s. Dark denim but without the flaps on the top pockets! I love it since it doesn’t enhance the girls, who do fine on their own for being 64!
    So happy you’ve made a full recovery!

  35. On your suggestion, I purchased the longer Style & Co. denim jacket from Macy’s and love it. What a great recommendation, and it is on sale for an incredible price right now. It is so much more flattering on me than the shorter style denim. I am certainly going to enjoy wearing it year-round.

  36. I have owned many jean jackets in my 71 years and gave given away or donated all of them, thinking that I just didn’t have the body for one.. After reading your article I decided to try one more time and am so glad I did The Talbots jacket you linked was a perfect fit and is so flattering I now have so many wardrobe options!

    Thank you for all your good advice You make me wish I lived in Tennessee again. So many great clothes I can’t wear because it seems like it is always hot in Florida!!

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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