Jacket and Jeans: Finding the right combination to dress up your jeans


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All of us have seen them. I notice them most often at the airport, walking down the street over the noon hour or happy hour, or certainly when out for dinner or a few drinks. Those men who on the one hand annoy me, and on the other, are like a soap opera that I just can’t turn away from. Like peacocks on display, they walk about with shoulders back and chest forward. It seems like their gate is a little bit slower than necessary, as they casually check their reflection in store front windows. I can’t tell if it’s a habit, or if they just don’t care that people like me notice. Likely both are true.

Distinct from “gentleman peacocks” are a much more impressive, and perhaps rare, breed of male style specimens. Those men are harder to notice, mostly because they seem so comfortable in their own skin and in their clothing. They don’t obtrusively stand out, as do their peacock counter parts, but don’t be fooled. The confidence and style they exude has roots deeper than any plumage one might display. It comes from wearing clothing that perfectly reflects who they are and what they do. They don’t let clothes wear them, rather they wear their clothing. Or as Stephen Marche wrote in Esquire, “the most potent style is the style that you don’t know is a style.”

A particularly sublime distinction shows up in the way these men wear one of the great modern looks – a jacket and jeans. One of the reasons I love this look is because it’s not one for the peacocks, because without the dress shirt and tie, cuff links, shiny leather shoes, and slicked hair, there’s less chance for the flourish they crave. Don’t get me wrong, I love some flourish now and again. Emphasis on “now and again.”

How to do this great modern look? Find a pair of great jeans, throw on a jacket that fits you – one that just feels so right, on top of a simple button down oxford, a simple leather belt and a great loafer or oxford. Ready to roll.

But what makes this look roll off some men so wonderfully, and on others, not so much?


“What’s that?” you say. “Is that the entire answer? Certainly it has to be more than that, right?”

Nope. Not really.

Fit is it!

In 2014, jeans that fit means nothing too full in the leg, all the way from the top to the bottom. If you’ve tried pulling off your boot cuts from 2005 recently, you’ll know what I’m talking about. What then looked so stylish now looks so baggy, so….wrong.

Your jacket must also fit. Fabric and details matter too, but fit will make or break the look. Before I continue – “jacket” is really synonymous with sport coat. Why not use the “sport coat” designation then? I love that casual ring to “jacket.” And we’re talking with jeans, so it just works. I say it does anyway.

For a jacket to fit, nothing too full throughout the chest and waist, and yet nothing too tight either. Dare I say I’m a bit tired of the skinny, sausage casing suit and sport coats? Let the peacocks think they still look good in them. As to length, I will suggest the length of the jacket needs to have a modern feel to it – nothing much beyond the fullest part of the seat. Generally, this won’t be too far past the bottom of the jean’s rise. Where’s that? Where the pant inseams run into each other, right below the bottom of the zipper.

You’re a modern man, making your mark on the world. Jeans and a jacket is a look for you to master. Your time is now. People are looking to you, at you and up to you. Don’t waste time looking into reflective surfaces. Wear a pair of great jeans with a well-cut jacket, keep it simple with the shirt, shoe, and belt, and live your life!

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