Spring has sprung, which means it's time to put away your heavy wool coats, bulky leather jackets and rain gear in favor of something a little lighter and a bit more wearable as temperatures rise. It's not summer yet - so you can't completely ignore a jacket - but you need something to wear over a variety of outfits, that has the ability to finish off a look, and that you can toss in the back seat on balmy afternoons.
What's the one jacket that is the queen of versatility, that's as at home in a business casual office as it is over your weekend wardrobe? A denim jacket! I love a denim jacket for it's ability to morph based on the occasion - it can dress up a t-shirt and casual pants, or dress down a work sheath. It adds edge to a flirty floral dress, and tones down a serious outfit. It's essentially the 'jeans' of the jacket world!!!
I have many clients who hadn't even thought about adding a denim jacket to their repertoire - but now that they have one (or two), they don't know how they lived without it. It's the thing that you can throw on, when you don't know what to throw on.
My three favorite ways to wear a denim jacket are:
- As a blazer stand-in at the office
- On date night over a dress or dressy separates
- As an über-versatile weekend layer
Check out how I integrated denim jackets into my clients' wardrobes, along with some tips on fit, wash, and how to execute the dreaded 'denim-on-denim' look.
Unless your office is strictly business professional, a denim jacket is a viable layer over dressier or more casual office attire. It cuts the seriousness of a sedate work dress, is the perfect 'third piece' over a simple top and pencil skirt, and adds warmth over a sleeveless top and heels (or flats) when the AC is cranking.
COMMON CLIENT QUESTION: Can I wear a denim jacket that isn’t blue?
MY ANSWER: Of course! The casualness/dressiness of a denim jacket relates to it’s color, and also it’s wash and details. My favorite non-blue colors are white/off-white (for spring/summer), shades of grey, and black/off-black. A jacket in a simple dark wash denim is the dressiest of the blues, and in any color – the more minimal the details, the dressier the jacket. Paler blue denim jackets, and any color denim with distressing, abrading, holes, etc are the most casual of the bunch – the fun thing is that they can add a boho vibe or unexpected edge to your outfit, but they might not be appropriate for the office…
When you know you don't want to wear a simple cardigan over that sweet floral dress, a denim jacket adds contrast, and also provides structure if the dress is floaty, unstructured, or less than figure-flattering. And when you feel like sparkly heels might be too dressed up, your trusty denim jacket takes them down a notch.
COMMON CLIENT QUESTION: How should a denim jacket fit? My old denim jackets are all boxy – is that right?
MY ANSWER: A boxy fit can be a fashion-y style, but for an everyday flattering cut, look for jackets that skim the figure and show off your curves. Most denim jackets have several seams, and these seams should shape the jacket into a figure-conscious silhouette that comes in at the waist, and then flares out again toward the hip (depending on it’s length). Something specific to look for is a decent amount of stretch, which you can feel just by pulling the fabric. A jacket with stretch will feel much more comfortable than a harder denim, will most likely fit better, and also moves with you as you navigate a hectic day.
ON THE WEEKEND
Weekends are the traditional time you'd pull out a denim jacket, and there's a good reason why. You can wear one over almost anything, from a maxi skirt to a striped t-shirt and shorts - and you can always keep one in the trunk in case warm afternoons turn to cool evenings.
COMMON CLIENT QUESTIION: Can I wear a denim jacket with jeans?
MY ANSWER: Yes! But watch your color pairings. The last thing that you want to do is look like you’re going for a denim suit – so contrast is your friend. A washed-out light blue denim jacket works with white jeans, a grey jacket complements dark blue jeans, and I love how a white jacket tops off colored denim. And yes, you can wear blue-on-blue – just keep the tones markedly different to ensure that you’re a style ‘do’!
Check out below for a few of my favorite denim jackets in stores (just click to shop), and the ones that I recommend most to my clients – and feel free to ask me your denim jacket questions in the comments!