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How to Style a Jean Jacket Effortlessly

You’ve made up your denim jacket, great! Now how do you make it fit in your wardrobe?

Figuring how to style a jean jacket is thankfully pretty easy! There are very few ways you CAN’T wear a jean jacket.

The one style you should avoid at all times is the Canadian tuxedo look. The extreme example is of early-naughts teen pop power couple Britney Spear and Justin Timberlake.

Man in denim shirt, pants, and jacket with text that reads "I don't usually wear a tuxedo, but when I do, it's Canadian"

Don’t do that.

You also shouldn’t wear a jean jacket to conservative dress or black-tie affairs unless you’re eccentric enough (or wallow in enough fuck-you money) to pull it off.

But other than that, the sky is the limit! Especially now as we’re transitioning between seasons, whether you’re going into spring or fall where you are, the jean jacket is a perfect mid-weight topper for most days.

Note: I’ve used all my own well-loved clothes here, so please excuse the “worn” look! Also, this jean jacket is at least 10 years old and from GAP. A jean jacket is just that durable!

How to Style a Jean Jacket: Ultra Casual

Scenario: the always too-early Saturday morning breakfast

A jean jacket is perfect when you don’t want to look like a total slob but still want to wear your pajamas to breakfast. Paired with a chic set of sunglasses, this is good for hiding a hangover too. Got bed head? Wear your favorite ballcap…or a hoodie!

It works for chilly mornings when you need to take the dog for a walk or run kids to school. A slightly oversized jacket is your best bet here, especially if you’re wearing it over a hoodie.

Flatlay image of how to style a jean jacket for an ultra casual day: black baseball cap, black tank top, blue joggers, jean jacket, sunglasses, and black running shoes

In this example I’ve styled my jean jacket with a black Old Navy tank top, Simplicity 8268 joggers in dark blue, a resistance baseball cap from Puerto Rico, cheap but dark sunglasses, and Nike running shoes. A real effortless look for brunch…or a quick run to the store for Pedialyte.

How to Style a Jean Jacket: Carefree Casual

Scenario: hitting the farmers market while looking fabulous

A sundress is the perfect under layer for a jean jacket. If your farmer’s markets are anything like mine, shade is at a premium, so good UV-blocking sunglasses and a hat are a must (don’t forget your sunscreen!). Maybe even a scarf! With a cute pair of flats or sandals that make walking easy, and you’re out the door with your market tote!

Flatlay image of how to style a jean jacket for casual day out: a large hat, sunglasses, jean jacket, striped knit dress, red scarf, and tan Mexican flat sandals

This is great for a more fitted jacket. In this example, the jacket is over my favorite striped dress (McCall’s 6744) and finished off with a large off-white hat, sunglasses, a red pashmina, and Mexican huaraches.

How to Style a Jean Jacket: Business Casual

Scenario: Laidback Thursdays

Like the idea of a pencil skirt but tired of blazers or cardigans? If your work environment skews casual enough, top that pencil skirt with your favorite denim jacket and call it done.

Flatlay image of how to style a jean jacket for a business casual office: jean jacket, black blouse, pencil skirt with an Aztec print, black patent leather wedge heels

Here the jacket gets a little dressed up with a basic black tee that would be tucked into my first ever handmade pencil skirt, Simplicity 1559 (unblogged). Finished with black patent leather wedges, I may have actually worn this outfit to the office once or thirty times…

Prefer pants to skirts? Slim pants, tee or sweater, and your favorite jean jacket pull it together nicely.

Flatlay image of how to style a jean jacket for a business casual office: jean jacket, red turtleneck with 3/4 length sleeves, slim fit pants, and grey ballet flats

For another office option, I swapped out the skirt and tee for a Kwik Sew 4069 with 3/4-length sleeves, black and white checked New York & Co. ankle pants, and silver ballet slippers. With a turtleneck, this is especially great for perpetually chilly offices!

How to Style a Jean Jacket: Date Night

Scenario: out with your love

Nothing is simpler than a dress and a jacket. Wear a statement necklace if that’s your vibe.

Flatlay image of how to style a jean jacket for a date: black dress, jean jacket, statement necklace, and black thigh high boots

The Givre dress and some costume jewelry are perfect for these thigh-high boots! And because it’s got that open weave yoke, a little jean jacket is a nice way to protect my shoulders from the cold on date night.

How to Style a Jean Jacket: With Jeans

Scenario: you really just want to wear jeans

So what happens if you really want to wear jeans AND your jean jacket together? Is that…okay?

Yes! Like all fashion rules, this one is made to be broken. From StitchFix.com:

If you’re wearing [a jean jacket] with denim, be sure to choose a wash that’s either lighter or darker or a completely different color (like black or grey or even olive or burgundy) than your jeans so your look is an on-trend denim-on-denim pairing, not a Canadian tuxedo mishap.

The trick is to make sure the denim in your jacket and jeans are different washes. What does that mean? For example, an acid-washed jacket and dark washed jeans or vice versa. Or try a wash just like the ones in the pictures above but with black, white, or even colored jeans.

This is the very reason I’m working on a dark fuschia denim jacket right now. I basically live in dark wash jeans. But a pink jean jacket is never going to clash with my jeans, no matter what (because I’ll likely NEVER own pink jeans).

This pin is the perfect example outfit for the Saturday mornings scenario above! Right down to the baggy acid-washed jean jacket.

A person in black wearing a light blue vintage denim jacket leaning against bushes looking down with text overlay that reads "how to style a jean jacket effortlessly" petite font dot com

2 side by side flat lay images of different ways to style a jean jacket between two sections of text overlay that read "from business to brunch, 5 different ways to wear a jean jacket, petite font dot com"
Flatlay image of how to style a jean jacket for casual day out: a large hat, sunglasses, jean jacket, striped knit dress, and a red scarf with text that reads 5 ways to style a jean jacket effortlessly, petite font dot com

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When did people start calling denim on denim Canadian Tuxedos? Growing up that was a Texas Tuxedo.

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