Your Stylist: The denim jacket, a definite closet must-have

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As we get into late summer, transitional pieces like a denim jacket become key in bringing easy summer dresses, shorts and tank tops into early fall without too much effort or expense. A well-fitting denim jacket couldn’t be more classic or useful. It’s layerable, light weight and tempers frilly summer frocks in an instant. And depending on the style, it can give your look a worn-in western look or fashion forward-edgy appeal, creating new possibilities for certain items sitting in your closet.

For the most straightforward, timeless version, Levi’s makes several styles that are extremely versatile. There’s a rigid denim jacket from the brand (right, $198) that comes in a deep, saturated indigo with cool copper buttons that provide a snappy contrast to the dark denim. The look is clean and polished and the piece instantly pulls together simple basics, almost in the way a blazer would, but of course with a more casual spin. A darker wash in denim (jeans or a jean jacket) will always look a bit dressier due to the even color in the wash and stiff nature of the rigid fabric.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are jackets out for fall that are washed, distressed and full of deliberate nicks and abrasions that give them character and a much more laid-back look. Lucky Brand jeans has a worn in style (far left, $99) with an almost tie-dyed effect at the shoulders and waist where the denim is bleached out to an almost completely white finish. The denim is broken in and moves well over softer fabrics like a silk summer dress or a thin, cotton T-shirt and swishy maxi skirt. G Star makes a jacket in a similar worn-in wash (near left, $220), but the cut of this jacket is fitted, ultra feminine and even a bit sexy, as it hugs at the waist and wears almost like a button-down denim shirt as opposed to a more boxy jacket. This version is perfect if you plan on throwing it over a thin shirt and wrapping a brown leather belt around the waist, which adds dimension and extra definition to the body especially when working with multiple layers of clothing.

If something more substantial in weight and details suits your needs, 7 for All Mankind is doing a motorcycle-style denim jacket with a faux fur trimmed collar reminiscent of one generally attached to a bomber jacket (right, $298). It’s right on trend for fall and the fur and fitted body adds some luxury and sophistication.


As far as really versatile, day-to-night denim jackets go, Current Elliott, Paige Denim and MiH denim are doing basic yet fashionable styles that can be worn with jumpsuits, dresses and even jeans. Look at how Cameron Diaz paired the Snap jacket from Current Elliott (left, $274) with a summery white jumpsuit for a recent movie premiere. The rich blue of the jacket pops against the stark white of her outfit and a multiple strand turquoise necklace pulls everything together while adding a little festive color.

The MIH (right, $264) and Paige Denim (below, $198) versions are basic enough to throw on with workout pants or flowy boho-style dress and flat boots. The lack of bells, whistles and overtly trendy elements make these a good investment for wearing for years to come.

The main thing to look for when trying on denim jackets is fit. Make sure the style isn’t too boxy on your body. The lines of the jacket that run along your ribs down to your waist should cut in a bit, but not so much that it wears like a second skin. If you plan to wear your jacket over a lot of flimsy summer dresses or items made of thinner fabric, opt for a denim jacket that has been washed for a worn-in finish as it will be more pliable and move better and lay more comfortably over your other clothes. If it’s a more tomboy-vintage look you’d like, a rigid denim jacket in a rich indigo (like the one from Levi’s) will do the trick.

--Melissa Magsaysay


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Top - Cameron Diaz attends the ‘Bad Teacher’ premiere at Summer of Sony 3 on July 10 in Cancun, Mexico. (Photo by SPE Inc./Matt Dames via Getty Images)

Right - Levis selvedge trucker jacket-rigid/Levis, Below, far left - Lucky Brand Wralee worn denim jacket/Lucky Brand, left - G Star denim jacket/G Star, below right - 7 for All Mankind Earhart flight jacket/7 for All Mankind, left - Current/Elliott Snap jacket/Current Elliott, MIH Denny jacket/MIH, left - Paige Denim Vermont jacket