One of my favorite outfits to wear is my medium-wash denim jacket and my tan pants. I hate to make this statement because I generally think “ten most essential items you must have in your wardrobe” lists and “ultimate guide to _______” posts are stupid. Fitzgerald would never have used “the ten most essential words you must have in your novel” when writing The Great Gatsby. If you want to look like you dress well organically — like didn’t just rip your outfit off an mannequin at The Gap — you should hold yourself to Fitzgerald’s standard. (Therefore, I won’t use the word “essential” anymore in this post, or in this blog. Ever. Period.*)
(Photo credit: Christopher Macsurak)
The denim jacket and tan pants outfit are valuable articles to have in your arsenal for one reason: versatility. The outfit can be worn — depending on where you live — at least three seasons out of the year. If you buy a denim jacket without an inner lining (which I recommend) it’s not too hot to wear until it starts to push 80 degrees. Wear a light patterned cotton t-shirt under it (I like thin horizontal stripes, or, if I’m feeling adventurous, small polka dots) to add a dash of chaos to the solid colors. When it’s colder out, assemble the jacket with a thicker pair of khakis or tan denim and wear a sweater or thick denim shirt under the it for extra warmth. Go ahead and wear a scarf too; you won’t look like an asshole if it’s actually cold outside.
Think of the denim jacket and pants as the base layer and build the rest of your outfit around them. As long as you stay away from boots and a cowboy hat, you can do pretty much anything to tailor it for for a specific occasion. Just don’t be a douchebag and “accessorize” too much. The beauty of this outfit is in its simplicity. Lose that essence, and the denim jacket — intended to appear rugged, care free and casual — suddenly seems out of place.
The last major consideration when investing in this outfit is what kind of denim jacket to purchase. This is a case where quality is paramount. A well made denim jacket can last years — if not decades. My dad still wears a denim jacket he bought used in the mid-70s. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to invest $100 or more on this item. Make sure the fit is perfect. The cut should be slim, but not snug, nor should it have an elastic waistband or poof around the sides and/or back. Generally, I prefer buttons over zippers. This has less to do with style, but rather durability. A broken zipper can bring a premature demise to your favorite item of outerwear; a button can always be reattached.
Finally, there’s the matter of what kind of denim to look for. I own two denim jackets. One is a dark wash, the other a medium wash (similar to the jacket in the photo above). Both I bought at The Gap on sale for around $30. The most important thing when buying denim is to pay attention to the consistency of the wash. Denim is supposed to have character. Therefore, avoid buying lighter wash denim that isn’t distressed (i.e. denim that’s perfectly uniform like below). I also tend to avoid shiny or glossy denim material so people don’t inadvertently assume I’m pledging a sorority.
Hopefully this shirt was a Father’s Day gift from a Malibu Barbie
(Photo credit: atalou via Flickr)
No matter how loudly conservative columnist George F. Will laments, denim will forever be rooted in Americana fashion. The denim jacket may be one of the most versatile items of clothing you’ll ever own; you can wear it pretty much anywhere. But, every once and a while, grab a Budweiser (or your favorite local microbrew), listen to this album and head out to the lake to make your denim jacket feel the most at home.
*Subject to change