How to wear a denim jacket, according to style experts

Of all the items in our wardrobe, nothing feels as universal as a pair of jeans. You can truly wear them with anything, from oversized sweaters and chic blouses to basic tees and your favorite button-downs. So, it only makes sense that denim in the form of trendy jackets is just as easy to work into your everyday wear.

While fashion trends come and go, jean jackets always seem to be a consistently popular piece year-round. Attempting to style them in ways that meet the moment, though, can feel like a challenge. So, we tapped style experts Carrie Cramer and Gloria Cospito for pointers on how to wear denim jackets for nearly every kind of occasion.

How to wear a denim jacket

“Denim is just a fabric; it’s just a material. It’s a 100 percent cotton material, so denim can come in all colors,” Cospito told Shop TODAY. “The one [shade] we think of the most is that kind of pale blue denim, but you could [also] do a cream denim [or] a tie-dye denim. It can be anything in terms of shade.”

This kind of range means that there aren’t many limitations when it comes to creating a look that meets your style. There’s also no shortage of fabrics you can pair with jean jackets. For instance, Cramer suggests throwing on a pair of leather bottoms, whether it be a sleek pant or shorts in the warmer months. And when the weather calls for it, she also says you can reach for a bodycon dress to wear underneath a denim top, either for dressing up or down.

“Denim is kind of crossing all seasons now, but I think it definitely feels just right for transitioning from winter to spring or summer to fall,” Cospito added. “That kind of time where it’s like the ‘Miss Congeniality’ quote: ‘All you need is a light jacket.'”

However, when it comes to rocking the denim-on-denim look, Cramer suggests going with an oversized jacket option. “I would do more of an oversized denim jacket with a nice straight leg, a cute pair of sneakers, a white T-shirt and a bunch of jewelry,” she added. Pairing two-tone denim jeans like these with a darker wash jacket to break up the look is also a style worth considering.

How to wear a black denim jacket

Although spring is around the corner, and brighter fashions are on the horizon, black denim jackets aren’t going out of fashion any time soon — and just because they display a darker color doesn’t mean you have less options when styling them.

“I think a really fun way to do black denim on top is to [pair it with] a cream denim on [the] bottom,” Cospito told Shop TODAY. “So, then you get kind of that graphic black-and-white look. You can even lean into it with a cow or zebra print [to emphasize] that black-and-white pop between the top and bottom.”

If you’re looking for a bolder denim print to pair with a black jean jacket, Cospito also recommends opting for fun patterns like tie-dye or acid wash.

Since denim jackets are a versatile staple in any wardrobe, you can wear them with just about anything, as long as you adjust additional pieces to match the season you’re in, Cospito says. From slip dresses in the spring to fleece layers to get you through the rest of winter, here are some of our favorite picks you can wear with denim jackets that lend themselves well to an overall fashionable look. Plus, a few customer-loved jean jackets you can shop right now.

What to wear with denim jackets

Banana Republic Factory Cowl-Neck Satin Slip Dress

“An oversized denim jacket with a silk slip dress and a combat boot is such a cool look,” Cospito said. “And that’s utilizing your slip dress from the summer, your combat boot that you’ve been wearing this whole winter and then that denim jacket that you wear a lot for spring and fall.” Talk about a year-round look!

BTFBM Ruched Bodycon Dress

“I also think denim jackets are great to wear at night, even if you have a dressier look,” Cramer said. “Like a sexier, kind of bodycon dress. They’re great to layer to kind of tone [the look] down a little bit and not make it so sexy. It can kind of add a bit of a casual flair.”

This chic option from Amazon is made from a soft material that creates a flattering silhouette and comes in over 30 colors to match whichever shade of denim you choose to pair it with.

Old Navy EveryWear V-Neck T-Shirt

You can’t go wrong with a denim jacket paired with a plain tee. The combo offers the ultimate casual-cool aesthetic, which can easily be dressed up with gold jewelry and accessories.

Topshop Faux Leather Paperbag Waist Shorts

“I also think you can [pair] them with some fun shorts,” says Cramer. “Like some leather shorts, a white tank top — even a cropped white tank top — [and] some combat boots.”

ASOS Design High-Waisted Pencil Skirt

To make a tapered denim jacket look dressier, Cramer recommends throwing on a pencil skirt. We love this all-black high-rise style that hugs your figure in all the right places.

Forever21 Faux Leather Cargo Ankle Pants

If you’re not into pencil skirts, Cramer also recommends amping up your half-denim look with a pair of leather pants.

J. Crew Slouchy Boyfriend Chino Pant

“My other favorite look with a denim jacket is literally just a pair of chinos with a very nice white V-neck T-shirt with some layered necklaces,” Cramer said.

Stradivarius Straight Leg Contrast Jean

Going for a denim-on-denim look? Cramer says a pair of two-toned jeans can help break up the look of the Canadian tuxedo.

Knox Rose Cargo Jogger Pants

“You could hop on the low-rise train and do a low-slung, slouchy cargo pant with your cropped denim [jacket],” Cospito shared. “Or you can commit to the high-rise look and do a high-rise cargo pant or denim pant.”

We found these affordable cargo joggers that capture the best of both worlds: a high waist and loose fit. These also come in four colors and feature functional pockets.

Levi’s Wedgie Straight Fit Jeans

If your jean jacket is oversized, Cramer says a pair of straight-leg jeans is another way to rock denim on denim. Add a cute pair of sneakers and some jewelry into the mix and consider your look complete.

Old Navy High-Waisted Button-Fly O.G. Straight White Ankle Jeans

With a black denim jacket, a cream-colored pair of jeans like this one can help your look come together. These high-rise bottoms from Old Navy feature shape-retention fabric, special pockets for a smoothing effect and an on-trend ’90s-inspired fit.

H&M Oversized Denim Shacket

When wearing oversized denim on the top, Cramer suggests pairing it with a “tapered, straight-leg pant” that you can wear as is or rolled up at the hem and paired with a cute pair of Converses. This trendy denim shacket comes in three sleek shades and is just the right amount of oversized.

Crown Vintage Telinda Combat Boot

Your winter combat boots can also be paired with a slip dress and denim jacket during the colder months, according to Cospito.

Amazon Essentials Belice Ballet Flat

Cramer recommends grabbing a pair of flats to complete an everyday denim jacket look. These No. 1 bestselling faux leather ballet flats from Amazon are available in over 30 colors, so there’s a shade for every fashion aesthetic and style.

A New Day Two Row Layered Necklace

Cramer is all for adding layered necklaces with denim jackets and says the pairing creates a kind of dressed-down look that is perfect for playing up with accessories.

BaubleBar Florencia 18K Gold Earrings

“I like a lot of the studs,” Cramer told Shop TODAY about accessorizing with denim jackets. “Like a lot of earrings [but] maybe not big earrings.” These simple yet elegant cubic zirconia studs will add a subtle flair to your look — and allow your trendy jean jacket to take the spotlight.

Top-rated denim jackets

Lands’ End Long Sleeve Tie Dye Denim Jacket

This tie-dye jacket has a brighter feel to it than most styles. It’s a fun option for anyone searching for a bolder look than a classic blue jacket.

Madewell The Oversized Trucker Jean Jacket in Washed Black

Going for an oversized black denim look? This trucker-style jacket offers all that and more — including large inside pockets, “authentic” top-stitching and full-on vintage vibes.

Gap Oversized Denim Jacket With Washwell

The classic denim jacket in everyone’s collection of staple pieces meets a timely upgrade in the form of an oversized fit with this sleek option from Gap. The one thing we love more than the stunning Indigo shade and front-button collar has to be the fabric, which is part of the brand’s water-saving Washwell program.

Levi’s Ex-Boyfriend Trucker Jacket

You can find this trucker-style jacket from Levi’s in a range of washes, including black, a For Real medium wash and a Soft As Butter light wash.

Levi’s Original Sherpa Trucker Jacket

Need a reliable layer that can keep you warm through the rest of winter? This sherpa-lined piece from Levi’s caught our eye, especially for its quilted lining, classically designed stitching and adjustable waist tabs.

Gap Oversized Icon Denim Jacket

Skip the blue wash and opt for something more unexpected — a sand-colored jacket. This Icon option from Gap has a slouchy fit but the same polished look as your favorite pair of khakis.

Charter Club Denim Jacket

Go bold with this yellow style — or one of the nine other available shades, including Palm Olive (pale green) and Northern Lights (very bright blue). You can pair any of these options with a range of bottoms to brighten up an everyday outfit.

Everlane The Modern Jean Jacket

Contrast stitching and handy pockets are only two of the many stunning details that make this jacket from Everlane stand out. We’re loving that it comes in both light and dark washes and that it’s made with non-toxic stretch fibers.

Wrangler Authentics Denim Jacket

This top-rated jacket hits right at the waist and comes in sizes S-XL in a range of washes.

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Kenneth Proto

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