For some time I have had a light blue denim jacket on my wishlist. I have a weakness for jackets that work well in transitional months. It is a time when layering something like a bomber or denim jacket just…makes sense… at least in the temperate-yet-rainy climate of the UK. The problem is that this would be my fourth denim jacket in four years. Each time I have found something wrong with their fit over time. As you will see I have almost come full-circle.
While I have had little trouble giving to charity while reducing my wardrobe, I have dragged my feet in selling items that could help with my low income as a student. I remember it clearly. When I started paring down, I put on my (third) denim jacket: a very cropped, very slim-fitting Cheap Monday jacket. When I had ordered it from ASOS I had, sensibly, also bought the size up so I could decide on the size small or extra-small. My instinct at the time was for the slimmest fit possible, a rejection of the oversized aesthetic which had – at the time – superseded the previous obsession with ‘skinny’ fits in menswear. This discussion also contains a list of places to read about Japanese aesthetics and a link to an alternative to the jacket I wear here to buy.
The quest for the perfect denim jacket fit…and the inevitable role of weight gain and loss
Probably the first piece of advice novices to menswear seek is how things should fit. It tends to follow from vague advice like ‘wear what makes you look or feel good’. Denim jackets are very tricky when it comes to fit, just like blazers or leather jackets. Some come “cropped”, some “boxy”, some “oversized”, others “slim-fitting”. All of these terms can be more confusing than they seem, and it is by running round this semantic labyrinth that without really thinking about it I bought 3 denim jackets in a 3 year period. It is no wonder that companies continually shift what fit is ‘on trend’. Ultimately this is about how more affordable style percolates from the experimentation of influential designers with forms, fabrics and silhouettes.
I do consider myself very fortunate in that, for the last few years, I have lost and kept off the weight which I had begun to gain in my teens. The problem is, when you are focusing on the slimmest fit possible, even a few kilograms or pounds can make all the difference. So that meant my third denim jacket, something I had spent quite a bit of time thinking about, was a dumb purchase long-term. Similarly, my first denim jacket was far too large, even though I liked the style. And my second, which I am wearing in this outfit post, was just too large.
The conundrum, therefore, was that I love to wear a denim jacket, and that I feel they – if anything – suit my style and wardrobe more than ever at this moment. When I first dipped my toe with a River Island light blue denim jacket I tended to wear shirts rather than crew-neck t-shirts and sweatshirts. Two collars is a bit much!
This wishlisting had not occurred in a vacuum. I also had significant inspiration from two ultra-stylish friends of mine, the minimal @martinocampari and the maximal @pinnns, both of whom have incredible instagram feeds:
These two fits also provided an excellent, real-world example of how a denim jacket ought to fit and how I would style one. For some more background: I was at my slimmest when I went to South Africa for a month two years ago on a research trip. Inevitably I have gained a few pounds and ounces after this low, but luckily I have stayed around the same weight since. The bonus? Now I reckon that my All Saints Rinse Jacket, which had once fit me like a glove, looks pretty damn cool and fits well again (ha, the occasional benefits of procrastinating with the nicer items when decluttering!). Nowadays it is just the right size for layering something like a hoodie under as well as over a t-shirt.
The outfit: denim jacket, print tee and grey jeans
So in the end, I had to follow some classic capsule wardrobe advice: shop your collection / closet.
Denim Jacket: Rinse Jacket by All Saints (Autumn/Winter 14), Japanese Denim fabric in a rinse wash
T-shirt: Marble camouflage print by Wood Wood
Jeans: Light grey skinny, by Edwin, ED-88 fit
Shoes: All-black Common Projects Achilles Low leather
I absolutely love all four of these items. The denim jacket is made of a super sturdy rinsed Japanese denim, which has a real vintage feel to it. I hope it will break in over time and develop a unique patina. There are signs of this developing on the arms from past wear. My black leather Common Projects return, grounding the outfit, not dominating the ensemble as statement footwear can.
The t-shirt has been a solid part of my wardrobe for three years now. This is because it looks great with any colour of skinny jeans. Despite being printed, I think it has some strong minimalist resonances. Perhaps it is because the print could be mistaken for marble as well as camouflage. The jeans were a complete bargain (both in terms of “cost per wear” and in £s).
The jeans are by Japanese denim artisans Edwin, following the theme of Japanese craftsmanship in this outfit. The camo t-shirt is reminiscent of the kind of streetwear you see from snaps of fashionistos in Tokyo etc. However the skinny fit follows the more European, form-fitting aesthetic. There is a lot to be said about the relaxed silhouette associated with Junya Watanabe, Comme des Garcons et al. Reading around Japanese culture helped me to hone in on a minimal aesthetic, and subsequently my goal for a minimalist outlook on life.
Like the jacket? Here’s some alternatives available for purchase
I highly recommend END Clothing from my own experience as a quality retailer:
Some curated reading on Japanese style for men:
Japanese menswear in motion, ssense.com