Like sweatshirts and T-shirts, denim jackets come in so many styles and cuts that you can always convince yourself to buy one more. So if the recent drop in temperature (or just a chilly gust of wind) has you on the hunt for a new jean jacket, we say happy hunting. We’re itching to add a few more jean jackets to our collections too. To help us (and you) find the best ones, we asked a bunch of cool and stylish women to tell us about their favorites. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the people we talked to love their vintage jean jackets above all others — as much for the jacket as for the thrill of finding something unique and perfectly worn in on Etsy or eBay. But they also shouted out a healthy range of flattering and practical new jackets to buy online from Calvin Klein to Old Navy. Here are their picks.
Best new jean jackets
New York–based creative consultant Michele Janezic has several vintage and new Levi’s jean jackets. “One is a well-loved boxy classic, another is a fitted ’70s orange tab, and another is an oversize boyfriend fit,” she says. For vintage, she recommends Slash in Berkeley, California. But she also has this new Levi’s oversize trucker jacket in medium wash on permanent rotation now that the weather is changing.
“For years, I had a denim jacket with horribly placed pockets that made me look busty as hell and was way too big for my frame,” says Strategist writer Nikita Richardson, who finally found the perfect fit in this medium-blue denim trucker jacket from Urban Outfitters. She likes that this timeless look will never go out of style and that it looks good with everything she owns. “We call those foundation pieces, people, and this jacket is one of the foundations of my closet,” she says.
Strategist junior writer Chloe Anello says this jacket is designed to fit like one you would otherwise have to buy a few sizes bigger than you wanted. “I like that I didn’t have to size up to get that oversize fit, but it’s not bulky looking — it looks like I’m wearing a women’s jean jacket, instead of one for men.” She’s also a fan of the material, which she describes as not too heavy to wear in summer but still sturdy enough to feel like high-quality denim.
Anello also told us about her Calvin Klein jean jacket, which she bought because it’s a little different. “It’s made from super-sturdy denim, and even though I bought it in my regular size, it’s still very oversized,” she says. The color-blocking version Anello has is almost sold out, but it’s still available in the dark-blue denim pictured here.
“RE/DONE has such perfectly worn pieces,” says Haein Dorin, VP of client services at Highsnobiety, who recently bought this deep-blue denim jacket to wear this fall and layer under her puffer this winter. The brand upcycles vintage jeans and jean jackets, taking them apart at the seams and rebuilding them with a more modern fit in downtown Los Angeles.
This oversize jacket comes recommended by Janezic. It’s made by the independent, woman-owned brand B Sides, which she loves for its vintage styling and finish.
This stylish budget option comes recommended by model and actress Lily D. Moore, who plays Rebecca on the Netflix show Never Have I Ever. She’s had this deep-blue jean jacket for three years and still wears it all the time. “I love wearing this jean jacket because it goes with everything, and it’s warm and cozy,” says Moore.
If you like rich and sturdy indigo denim and classic, functional designs, Janevic recommends the Japanese brand Orslow. The company’s denim is made in small, limited runs and is modeled from original Levi’s fabrics. This jean jacket draws influence from the short and boxy silhouettes of the ’60s.
Best vintage jean jackets
Vintage denim jackets are just as coveted as vintage jeans, with the same few big-name brands in constant demand: Levi’s, Wrangler, and Lee. Rare pieces like this can get expensive fast, especially if they’re from the 1960s, arguably the most desirable era for American denim — when it had just started to become more of a style choice than workwear but with fabric that was still durable enough to get you through actual work.
Writer Angella d’Avignon says fitted vintage jean jackets like this are just like the one she bought during her “hot ’90s mom” phase, which also included vintage long skirts in funky patterns from Contempo Casuals and crop tops. Although she has moved on to wearing longer, oversize chore coats now, this jacket still hits the spot. “I can’t pull off a leather biker jacket, so this is as close as it gets,” she says.
“Front General Store in Dumbo usually has the best stuff,” says Dorin who describes herself as a huge vintage-Levi’s geek. These can be pricey, she says, but the quality and editions the store carries are unbeatable. What Dorin likes about Levi’s is how the year and the location of manufacturing are linked to distinct product differences. “I love knowing there’s a story behind each piece. Plus, vintage jackets are so much softer and more comfortable,” she says.
Here’s a much less expensive vintage option from the same era.
Writer Alexis Cheung recommends this slouchy vintage jean jacket from the ’90s. “This Eddie Bauer denim trench coat is surprisingly utilitarian. While it won’t keep you dry in a downpour, it does provide a thicker insulation that’s breathable.” Cheung found this exact version at a Woodstock flea market four years ago and has worn it on drizzly days as well as sunny-but-brisk ones, staying pleasantly warm. “If you, like me, are a lazy dresser and prefer monochromatic outfits (namely in white, black, grey, or navy), wearing this adds a contrasting color so you don’t look like a walking fog bank,” she says.
If, like Iva Dixit, an associate editor at The New York Times Magazine, you refuse to wear any jacket without pockets big enough for a paperback, you should ditch jean jackets and go for a jean chore jacket. “I’m not a huge fan of the traditional, cocoon-shaped ’70s denim jackets. They look cool, but those minuscule pockets that can only fit toy hands are a deal breaker,” she says. Her ideal jean jacket is a longish chore coat made from non-stretchy denim. Dixit looks for deep blue or a dark indigo color and for pockets deep enough for a thick wallet, keys, $20 in quarters, and, of course, a paperback. That way you can throw it on over a dress or a T-shirt and shorts to do laundry — and have something to read while you wait for your laundry to finish. Although her exact jacket is no longer available, she says this vintage jacket is very similar.