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  • David Connolly

Every Man Needs a Denim Jacket

Updated: May 28, 2021



Every guy needs a handful of pieces on which he can always rely to make him look good, no matter what. At a minimum, this includes a trusty pair of white sneakers, a perfectly fitted t-shirtand a versatile denim jacket. The best denim jackets for men are practical, stylish and go with virtually any casual outfit.


Like many men’s staples today, the modern denim jacket was adopted into mainstream fashion over time from American workwear. We can thank Levi Strauss for that. Strauss, the immigrant and founder of the revolutionary brand that boasts his name, is credited with creating the first denim jacket in 1880.


All these years later, Levi’s name is still synonymous with the denim jacket. It’s a piece of clothing that has been imitated countless times, and it’s one of the most recognizable and versatile pieces of men’s clothing in history. In fact, the classic Levi’s denim jacket is so iconic that you probably already have one hanging in your closet right now. Officially known as the Levi’s Trucker Jacket, it’s available in a variety of colors and washes.


Trucker Jackets


A perfectly lightweight spring jacket, the trucker jacket can be dressed up or down as needed. Since its down-to-earth beginnings with the American labor force at the turn of the 20th century, the iconic jacket has been adopted by dozens of music scenes, Hollywood legends and luxury fashion houses as a standard cultural touchstone. It’s even found its way into Canadian formalwear, aka the Canadian tuxedo. It’s a long-lasting style staple, but it’s hardly the only men’s denim jacket worth a second look.


Although the options we know today are typically modernized versions of the one Strauss designed in the late 19th century, the best denim jackets for men have largely stayed true to the original with:

  • Superior durability

  • Front storage pockets

  • Button-up closure

  • Attached collar

  • Looser fit designed for wearing over work shirts and other apparel

It makes perfect sense that denim jackets have lived as long as they have at the forefront of men’s style. But with new designs and better access to technology, we’re able to cast a wide net on color, stitching, wash, hardware and so many more categories.


If you’re looking for the best denim jackets for men available in 2020, then you’re spoiled for options. Here are a few of the best denim jackets for men today.


1. Levi’s The Trucker Jacket


MOST POPULAR


If you don’t have a Levi’s Denim Trucker Jacket, you need one. However, if you’re looking to evolve beyond the standard denim coat, this modified version of the late-1800’s original is, hands down, the single most on-trend denim jacket in our country today. I don’t have hard stats, but next time you wander outside the house, look for the little red Levi’s tag on the breast pocket flap and see for yourself. In fact, this stylish denim jacket is so popular it’s sold out at popular retailers like Nordstrom and Levi’s itself.


Now, this specific jacket was already featured as one of our best lightweight jackets for the season on SPY. But as far as black denim jackets go, this one may be the best. Not only is it the classic Levi’s Trucker style, but it’s a great price point, sitting under $100, and its quality, versatility and durability have already been proven. Opt for this black color this time of year to match your dulled, cold-weather wardrobe if you need a relief pitcher for your blue denim jacket. It’s like giving your entire closet a facelift with just one new piece.


Best of all, the classic Levi’s Trucker Jacket is on sale via both Zappos and Amazon.



2. A.P.C. Washed Stretch Denim Jacket


RUNNER UP


We love everything about this light wash denim jacket, which comes from the French design label A.P.C. The lighter wash is perfect for casual spring and summer outfits, and this jacket offers just enough stretch to be comfortable no matter what you’re wearing underneath. The jacket comes with four front pockets, button cuffs and falls right at the belt line.



3. Everlane Denim Chore Jacket


CULT FAVOURITE


It feels like in a blink of an eye, we’re suddenly surrounded by chore jackets. It’s like kale, it’s always been around on the edges, and then whammo, it’s more popular than a high school jock. Originally created for work, hence the name “chore,” its practical design of big patch pockets and oversized cut, just begs to be worn all the time. Everlane created one that’s made like all Everlane products, ethically, eco-friendly and with transparency. Their chore jacket comes in either indigo or black and is roomy enough to wear over a sweater when it gets cold.



4. Zara Denim Worker Jacket


THE NEW CLASSIC


Sometimes if you’re lucky, when you take two different yet similar styles and create a new one, the result is an instant hit. That’s what happened when somebody got the bright idea to mashup the chore and trucker jackets. The result is a loosely cut worker jacket that’s cool in the office, at a dive bar and of course, a weekend brunch. Re-imagined by Zara, theirs retains the boxy silhouette of the trucker with the chore’s patch pockets, and the result is ineffably cool. Done in a neutral hue, and made of breathable cotton, this could be your warm-weather go-to jacket.



5. Levi’s Signature Denim Jacket


BUDGET PICK


At first glance, you probably can’t tell much of a difference between Levi’s Signature Denim and the classic Levi’s Trucker Jacket, and that’s exactly the point. The biggest difference is the price, as the Signature line offers the classic Levi’s look at half the price. Choose from dark wash, light wash, black or khaki as you prefer, with prices starting at just $35.



6. Wrangler Retro Unlined Stretch Denim Jacket


THE NEW VINTAGE


Sometimes, when brands dig to the very bottom of their creative design bags, they pull out the roots. That’s what Wrangler did when developing their Retro series, a modernized line of classics inspired by the brand’s western origin. This classic denim jacket features the original Wrangler rope logo buttons as well as the “W” stitching on the chest pockets. The slant hand pockets also add a touch of class in a world of vertical openings. Modern details include Wrangler’s stretch recovery, which allows the jacket to hold its shape throughout the day. When it comes to the best denim jackets for men, Wrangler is second only to Levi’s in terms of staying power.


I’d be remiss to recommend wearing this jacket with anything other than a good pair of brown leather boots, like these ones. In days gone by, you could only find Wrangler denim jackets like this at vintage stores, so shop this look while you still can.



7. Billy Reid Cullen Denim Trucker Shirt Jacket


CONTENDER


We’ve used Billy Reid’s clothing in other roundups and trend pieces as they are seriously stylish, think Americana Ralph Lauren-ish design vibes on hyperdrive, it’s classically styled clothing with a modern sensibility. Billy Reid’s clothing neatly lies between being on-trend and can wear it after the trend vanishes without looking dated. In other words, you’re getting all the high-end tailoring details you want in an item, but at a price point you can stomach. Reid’s trucker jacket is made from Japanese cotton, and the fabric is hand-sanded to give it a lived-in look. The jacket is crafted in the U.S and has four pockets: two flap and two welt pockets. It also comes in a darker double-dye wash.



8. FOREVER21 World Tour Graphic Denim Jacket


BEST FOR STREETWEAR


Combing through this fast-fashion brand, you’ll find things that’ll make you shake your head in disbelief, and then you find a totally dope item like this on-trend denim jacket. It’s an affordable version of graphic printed denim jacket micro-trend that’s starting to blow up, and this is priced much more nicely than the luxury versions. Done in a pale olive, the back is festooned with frayed patches touting cities from a world tour. Cut slightly oversized, this denim jacket has the traditional two flap and two slant pockets. It also comes in black and cream. Try it with a vintage tee and a pair of Doc Martens.



9. Todd Snyder Japanese French Chore Jacket


BEST DRESSED


We here at SPY are big fans of Todd Snyder. Whether he’s designing cool Timex watches or his eponymously named clothing line, his aesthetic and fabrication always knocks it out of the park. If you want to step up your denim jacket game, slip on Todd Snyder’s chore jacket. Inspired by the original French workwear jacket, made with Japanese Indigo cotton, and then finished off with genuine melamine buttons, this, my friend is, sartorially speaking, a badass jacket. The jacket’s clean lines combined with the deep blue hue, give it a lot of versatility. It can be dressed down with your oldest and most favorite pair of ripped jeans, or dressed up with white or black jeans and Chukka boots.



10. 34 Heritage Travis Jacket in Olive


BEST COLORED DENIM


Not everyone has a gym rat body, and not everyone is ready to rock themselves down a runway at a moment’s notice. Unfortunately, some brands and designers are making stuff that only looks good if you’re like 7 feet tall and weighs as much as a boneless chicken breast. 34 Heritage gets that guys come in all shapes and sizes, so when they’re creating stuff for their company, they’re making it with the idea in mind that whatever it is they make, it’ll fit everyone. Take their Travis jacket, it’s cut and styled like a traditional denim jacket, but it has extra stretch added to the cotton so you can really move your arms and body when it’s on. Travis does come in light and dark denim as well as this khaki shade. But why grab a khaki-colored denim jacket? Khaki’s a neutral color, anything you wear with it automatically looks better. It never looks dated, you’ll never have to worry if the jacket matches your jeans too much i.e. Canadian Tuxedo, and it’s always nice to switch things up a bit.



11. Isabel Marant Jeddy Denim Jacket


BEST TIE-DYE


French fashion designer Isabel Marant designs androgynous clothing that’s based on things she would wear in real life. She recently launched her menswear line, and it has the same sensibilities as her womenswear. This Jeddy denim jacket is infused with linen, so it has a subtle sheen and is the perfect weight for bright sunny spring and summer days. The tie-dye print is also subtle, allowing you to wear it with any type of jeanor chinos. Add a pair of slip-ons and a V-neck tee, and you’ve got your warm-weather uniform



12. Dickies Warming Temp IQ Denim Jacket


BEST ZIP-UP


Dickies zip-up denim jacket combines workwear with high-tech; as it’s designed to keep you comfortable no matter the weather. And with temps seesawing wildly from day-to-day, this is a jacket that will keep you warm when temps drop, as well as keeping you fine with the temps crawl up again. Made from a cotton blend that feels like flannel, this dual-sided jacket has a touch of stretch, so you’ll never feel constricted. It has adjustable waist tabs to give you the perfect fit. Lined in red, the jacket has two front welt pockets and a pencil pocket on a sleeve.



13. SHEIN Color Block Denim Jacket


BEST RUNWAY STYLE FOR LESS


Denim jackets are such an iconic item, that menswear designers like Amiri, Martine Rose, Dolce & Gabbana, DSquared2 had them strutting down the runways in Milan during Fashion Week. Styles ranged from distressed, to bleached, to exaggerated silhouettes and graphic prints. While it’s all well and good to admire those high-end items, it’s more realistic to snag a reasonably priced one instead for a couple of reasons. One – if something is super trendy, it’ll look great for a season or two, and then you’re done. Two –most of us don’t want to live on ramen for a couple of months to buy just one item. That’s why you can snag a ripped from the runway style like SHEIN’s bleached out color block denim jacket. Not only are you on top of a trend, but you’ll also still have money for beer…oh, and food too. Cut like the classic denim jacket, it has all the bells and whistles that you want in that style. Made from a cotton blend, it’s got two patch and side pockets, waist button tabs for an adjustable fit and buttoned cuffs.



14. Duer Men’s Performance Denim Jacket


BEST FOR TRAVEL


Whether you’re commuting or doing long-haul travel, you want a jacket that can stand the strain of constant movement, keep you cool and hide important stuff. Duer’s Performance Jacket does that and more. This slim-fitting denim jacket uses a cotton and Coolmax blend, so it regulates temperature, has built-in power stretch so the jacket moves with you, and there’s even an inside stash pocket too. The jacket’s finished with a silver ion treatment, so the fabric neutralizes odors. Duer started out with a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, and three years later they were shipping their performance gear to REI. Duer creates ethical, sustainable clothing with a performance slant. Everything they create has a dual