ask a cool person

What Are the Best Jean Jackets for Women?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

In this article

Like sweatshirts and T-shirts, denim jackets come in so many styles and cuts that you can always convince yourself to buy one more. Boxy, oversize trucker jackets seem to be de rigueur among the Gen-Z set, but a cropped, close-fitted denim jacket is a classic when paired with sharp tailored trousers or a black turtleneck. And don’t get us started on the range of washes available, from the darkest indigo to the lightest sky blue. So if the drop in temperature (or just a chilly gust of wind) has you on the hunt for a new jean jacket, we say happy hunting.

To help you find the best ones, we asked a bunch of cool and stylish women to tell us about their favorites. 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 range of new jackets to buy online, from Universal Standard to Madewell. Here are their picks.

Under $100

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 on permanent rotation.

Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla is also a fan, calling it her “goes-with-everything denim jacket” that’s “just the right thing to throw on whenever.” She advises sizing down, since it runs slightly large, but adds that the sleeves can be rolled up for a laid-back vibe. “There was a point, back when I worked at Anthropologie, when no less than seven fellow employees owned a version of it,” Pardilla says. “There wasn’t a day that went by without someone wearing it on a shift. Very Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”

Former Strategist writer Chloe Anello told us about her Calvin Klein jean jacket, which she bought because it’s
“made from super-sturdy denim, and even though I bought it in my regular size, it’s still very oversized,” she says. It comes in a very classic dark-indigo wash, with silver hardware and contrast stitching.

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 several years now and still wears it all the time. “It goes with everything, and it’s warm and cozy,” says Moore.

Four One Nine and EADEM editorial director 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,” she says. Cheung found a similar 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. Plus, she likes the interest it adds to any look: “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.”

Denim company Lee has been around for over 100 years — meaning you can typically find both new and vintage jackets from the brand online. The brand’s Legendary jean jacket has a relaxed fit, dual button-flap pockets, and is available in several timeless washes. Content creator Christine Caradona has owned hers for a few years now and declares that “it’s just one of those pieces that really feels and looks better the more you wear it.”

But if you prefer your jacket to be already worn in, celebrity stylist Evan Simonitsch came across his own Lee jacket — a cozy cold-weather style from the ’90s — at L.A. vintage store Moth Food. “It’s a little oversize with a beige corduroy collar and a blanket lining that’s meant for winter,” Simonitsch says. “What I love most about it is how perfectly aged it is.” It’s also reasonably easy to find the style, which is known as the Storm Rider and was first released in the 1950s, on eBay.

Under $200

Anello says this roomy 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.

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 featured 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.

If, like Iva Dixit, an 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 denim 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. 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 book. 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, she explains. Although her exact jacket is no longer available, she says this vintage jacket is very similar.

Model Molly D’Amato loves this Universal Standard denim chore jacket for its high-quality construction and durable fabric. “It’s so nice and sturdy feeling,” she says. “I’m big into an oversize jacket, and this one is easy to throw on over anything.”

As we learned when we polled a panel of 1,000 seniors age 65 and over, Universal Standard is also beloved by the especially stylish older crowd. One reason for that is the brand’s size inclusivity: “Their whole stance seemed right to me. They understand that the average American woman is a size 14 or 16,” says Carol, who feels “like a million bucks” in her Kelsey denim jacket. It’s available in sizes 4XS to 4XL, with a more fitted, cropped look than the chore jacket above.

According to Libby Rasmussen, founder of home-décor store Libby & My, this Veronica Beard jacket is a “flawless interpretation of the classic denim staple” that makes her feel “cool and polished” no matter the occasion, whether she’s wearing it to an office meeting or a laid-back weekend brunch. It has an elongated safari-inspired silhouette, with an upturned Mandarin collar and box-pleat pockets.

Claire Mazur, co-founder of the shopping podcast A Thing or Two, calls this AGOLDE jacket “perfectly oversized and relaxed, very soft, and my favorite shade of light denim.” With its draped shoulders and slouchy fit, she’ll reach for it when she’s otherwise feeling a little too fancy or put-together to “help bring things down a notch.”

$200 and up

Though fashion editor Aemilia Madden highly recommends a classic oversize Levi’s jacket “as a must-have in any wardrobe,” her favorite denim jacket is actually made by the brand Kowtow. “The tailored shape and stiff denim transform a casual staple into something dressier that I break out for work meetings when a blazer feels too fussy,” Madden says, adding that she tends to style the jacket with a slip dress or trousers and a classic white tee.

If you like rich, sturdy denim and classic, functional designs, Janezic recommends the Japanese brand OrSlow (which also makes some of our favorite men’s jeans). The company’s denim is made in small, limited runs and is modeled after original Levi’s fabrics. This jean jacket draws influence from the short and boxy silhouettes of the ’60s.

“RE/DONE has such perfectly worn pieces,” says Haein Dorin, global head of partnerships at SSENSE, who bought a deep-blue denim jacket from the brand to wear alone in the fall and layer under her puffer in the winter. The brand upcycles vintage jeans and jean jackets, taking them apart at the seams and rebuilding them with a more modern fit.

Writer and the Love List editor Jess Graves has been getting a lot of wear out of her Khaite Grizzo denim jacket, which she finds herself grabbing almost every day. “It’s super oversize and hits me right at the top of my thigh, so it looks great thrown on over shorts or leggings for a bodega run,” she says. The heavy silver studs at the bottom give the jacket some heft, which “lets it drape really nicely,” and the mid-blue wash that “doesn’t overcommit to dark or light” makes her feel like she’ll be able to get many seasons of wear out of it.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What Are the Best Jean Jackets for Women?