When you imagine a jean jacket, you probably picture a classic trucker silhouette. And when you imagine the best men’s jean jacket, you probably picture one from Levi’s. But the picture you have in your head is a little bit old. Not bad, per se—just dated. True, the very first iteration of the denim trucker originated somewhere around the tail end of the 19th century courtesy of Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis—it was boxy, streamlined, and featured just a single chest pocket—but in the time since, the silhouette has evolved dramatically.
The Best Jean Jackets Shopping Guide
Which also helps explain its enduring versatility. Personal style isn’t an exact science, but the trusty jean jacket just seems to jive with everything: an oxford button-down shirt and wide-leg chinos like you’re a ‘50s-era GI, a hoodie and swishy track pants like you’re Justin Bieber, a plain white T-shirt and matching jeans like you’re Martin Sheen in Badlands.
These days, the jean jacket doesn’t need to look like a basic trucker—or be made out of blue denim; you can just as easily find one crafted from black Japanese selvedge or exploded to Brobdingnagian proportions. So we trawled through every denim trucker, chore coat, and work jacket available to find the best men’s jean jacket—plus 18 others we really, really like—on the market.
The Denim Jacket
You should know this by now. Levi’s is the grandfather of all jeans which puts them on a rarified level few others could ever hope to approach. While the iconic 501 jean gets most of the praise, the Levi’s trucker jacket is also well-deserving of its fashion accolades. The very first iteration of the Levi’s trucker jacket debuted in 1905 and has since gotten several updates, but the one most ubiquitous today is known as the Type III. It’s the picture you have in your head when you think of a trucker jacket and it’s great for so many reasons. The midweight denim is ideal for year-round wear, the slim and cropped silhouette has transcended trends for decades and, like the five-pocket blue jean, pairs with just about everything (and looks better the more you wear it). If you’ve got room for just one jean jacket, let it be this one.
The Workhorse Denim Jacket
Likely the next kind of jean jacket you’re thinking of is the chore coat. They’re more common in a sturdy canvas or heavy moleskin cotton fabric, but denim’s resilience make it another reliable option for the workwear genre. It doesn’t get much better than this one from Alex Mill. The brand’s range of modern menswear staples is no slouch when it comes to fabric and construction and its line of chore coats is among the best out there, even compared to the multi-generational stalwarts like Carhartt and Dickies. It’s made with sturdy, yet broken-in 100% cotton Japanese denim and comes with dual chest pockets and hand pockets—less reason to carry a bag on you. The fit is slightly boxy and relaxed enough to layer up in the fall and early winter. But if you’re not the denim type (why are you even here?) Alex Mill makes its work jacket in a range of different fabrics, too.
The Yeehaw Denim Jacket
Wrangler’s denim pedigree is unquestioned. They’re part of the so-called Big Three of the denim world along with Levi’s and Lee, after all. When the temperatures really start to drop, those three-season trucker jackets just won’t do. For the late fall and early winters, this sherpa-lined denim jacket is what you need to stay thawed.
The Wild Card Denim Jacket
Fans of the Japanese brand Kapital are quick to point out the brand’s head-spinning takes on denim. From painstaking boro patchwork stitched by hand to far-out interpretations of blue jeans, the cult-loved label is a true innovator in the denim space. Among its roster of grail denim pieces is its infamous Century Denim, a super thick denim fabric reinforced with proprietary sashiko stitching throughout and dipped in a variety of natural dyes including mud dye and fermented persimmons. This Type I jacket interpretation of Kapital’s signature fabric is dyed into a deep dark brown color using mud and will age unlike any other standard indigo.
The Minimalist Denim Jacket
Helmut Lang’s minimalist approach was an unstoppable force in the 1990s and forever changed the way people looked at everyday fashion. So when he introduced his denim line in the late ‘90s, it was no surprise that it was a big hit. A quarter of a century since its debut, fashion heads are still scrambling to find original pieces from the era. The denim trucker jacket has been with the brand ever since and has seen countless iterations, but the purest of them has to be the raw denim version. Before droves of denim-obsessives were touting the virtues of undistressed denim and DIY fades, Helmut Lang thrust it onto the runway and remains a core style to this day.