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There’s something about denim jackets. They aren’t just layers. They aren’t just items of clothing. They’re a timeless style statement. 

A brief history: It all started in the late 19th century, when fashion icon Levi Strauss, after a decade of success with denim pants, decided to introduce a coordinating jacket. Originally meant for workers and laborers, this tough and durable piece was designed to protect the layers worn underneath it. Throughout the decades, while menswear trends waxed and waned, the denim jacket managed to garner some serious staying power. And to this day, it’s a symbol of coolness and ruggedness. Every man needs one. 

Personally, it’s my go-to layer this time of year, as the summer heat fades into fall. I love to wear mine with khakis over an Oxford cloth button-down. Indeed, the best denim jackets inject a certain texture of coolness into a fit, and their versatility is unmatched. What other piece of your closet can be worn with something athleisure, with something business-casual, to date night, or to the office? Nothing, quite frankly.

Just like jeans, though, finding the perfect denim jacket is more art than science. There seem to be infinite cuts, washes, and fabrications out there. And you’re in the market for the best of the best, here’s a great place to start.

What to Consider Before Buying the Best Denim Jackets for Men:

Even the most seemingly effortless pieces require a bit of, well, effort. Case in point: Denim jackets need to fit well, they need to look authentic and not costumey, and they need to be versatile enough to go with a range of other pieces in your closet. If you’re interested in diving in, make sure to keep these factors in mind.

Material: Classic denim is made from 100 percent cotton. Of course, within that category, you can consider options that are organic and others, if you’re interested in minimizing your carbon footprint, that are recycled. There’s also a range of blends and other materials that serve different purposes. A hint of elastane adds some stretch, for instance, and a touch of hemp adds lightweight breathability. Just check the brand’s product page or the product’s tag for an exact idea of what the jacket in question is made of. 

Fit: It feels like the two farthest ends of the spectrum are trending at the moment: cropped, skinny jackets on one end, and oversized, 90’s-inspired jackets on the other. These are great pieces that will look cool for a few seasons, but if you’re looking for longevity, don’t get too adventurous with your fits. Something that contours the body, hits at the waist, and has just enough room to be worn as a layering piece is probably the way to go. 

Wash: As with jeans, denim jackets come in a huge range of different washes. A reliable medium wash communicates ruggedness and style, while still offering a degree of panache. Lighter washes work great for the summer months, but can skew casual, making them less versatile in your closet. 

Best Overall Denim Jacket for Men

Here’s alpha and omega of denim jackets. Levi’s iconic Trucker is perfectly broken in for that had-this-forever feeling, looks distressed without looking dumpy, and that tiny red branded tag feels instantly recognizable in the best way. Note: The fit runs slightly large, so if you’re looking for a slimmer fit, you may want to try going one size down. 

Fit: Regular, runs somewhat large.
Wash: Vintage.

Buy Now on Revolve: $98

Best Bleached Denim Jacket for Men

This isn’t your dad’s bleached denim jacket from the ’80s. Nay, this one is sleek and stylish. Leave it to Dries to offer a totally novel approach to bleaching with this dipped style.

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Bleach dipped.

Buy Now on Ssense: $660

Best Soft Denim Jacket for Men

This denim jacket has to be felt to be believed. It’s made from an innovative cotton and hemp blend with just a hint of elastane—making for a jacket that’s unbelievably buttery, and has just enough stretch to move with your body. But it still has that vintage vibe that makes denim jackets so appealing in the first place. 

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Indigo.

Buy Now on Mavi: $128

Best Black Denim Jacket for Men

Any aficionado of the color black knows that it’s not a single color. There are infinite variations: ebony, charcoal, jet, licorice—the list goes on. Ami nails the perfect shade of black with this denim jacket. It has that impossibly cool look, but feels broken-in, like it’s something you’ve actually been wearing forever. 

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Black.

Buy Now on Saks Fifth Avenue: $595

Best Slim-Fitting Denim Jacket for Men

Part jacket and part shirt, this Prada denim topper knocks it out of the park. The fit is fantastic—slim through the torso, yet long enough to be worn as an outer layer or to be tucked in as a shirt, and with a slim sleeve that makes even the most gym-averse guys look ripped. 

Fit: Slim.
Wash: Light blue.

Buy Now on Prada: $2,300

Best Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

The problem with sherpa jackets is that many brands use a white or off-white fleece, which can accumulate grime over time and become difficult to spot clean. Problem solved with this Vince option, which is fully lined with a brown plush sherpa lining and trim. It’s cozy and will look fresh for many seasons to come. 

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Medium vintage.

Buy Now on Vince: $525

Best Performance Denim Jacket for Men

The number one criticism of denim jackets is that they aren’t super practical when inclement weather get involved—the cotton tends to sop. Not the case here. Duer is a great brand generally for stretch and performance denim pieces (we swear by their slim-fit flannel lined jeans come winter), and this denim jacket is no exception. It’s treated with a water-resistant finish so rain will bead right off. 

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Medium.

Buy Now on Duer: $139

Best Luxury Denim Jacket for Men

Trust that Mr. Cucinelli gives the same attention to his cottons as he does his cashmeres. This denim jacket is carefully built and cut to perfection. No detail was overlooked. Plus, we love the idea of a luxury denim jacket—something that’s meant to be worn around, worked in, perhaps made dirty—in this creamy shade of white.

Fit: Regular.
Wash: White.

Buy Now on Mr Porter: $2,395

Best Distressed Denim Jacket for Men

Distressed denim is a tricky area—go too deep and it looks like cosplay, but hit the right level and you’ll be pulling off that effortless cool vibe so many of us strive for. This John Elliott number falls firmly into the latter category. It’s made in Japan and has a perfectly frayed hemline that suggests—doesn’t scream—that you’ve had this one forever.

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Light.

Buy Now on Mr Porter: $700

Best Selvedge Denim Jacket

The beauty of this Todd Snyder jacket’s selvedge denim fabrication is how it breaks in and molds to your body over time. Consider it an investment—it’s stylish enough to wear to work, or to a dinner party, yet is durable enough to wear every day. The rigid feel is definitely a look, but it will soften over time the more you wear it. 

Fit: Regular.
Wash: Dark.

Buy Now on Todd Snyder: $498

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