Men’s Denim/Jean Jackets & How To Wear Them

After I released my Top 5 Fall Essentials article/video, I received a lot of questions about how to style different washes of denim jackets. I heard you loud and clear, so here’s some of my favorite ways to style them.

Light Wash

To avoid looking like you’re wearing a Canadian tuxedo, wear light wash denim jackets with chinos. You can pretty much get away with any color, but my favorites are navy, green, brown, and burgundy. My classic go-to formula is a t-shirt, chinos, and chukka boots. Crewneck sweaters or oxford button-downs are also good options as well.

$230 – Allsaints denim jacket – One of my favorite denim jackets currently available. I love the lighter wash and distressed touches and the slim fit is incredibly flattering, which is really hard to find in denim jackets. It fits true to size.
$20 – Topman striped t-shirt
$68 – J.Crew slim-fit stretch chino pant in green and brown (click here for their straight leg chinos)
$128 – Brooks Brothers suede belt in brown
$295 – Allen Edmonds plain-toe chukka boots
$318 – John Varvatos sunglasses
$5 – Perlon Watch Strap

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$90 – Levi’s denim jacket (in Queen) – You can never go wrong with this iconic denim jacket. Go with the next size down for this one because it’s not as fitted as the AllSaints one above and you always want a snug fit in the arms and body for all your denim jackets.

Dark Wash

If you only have the budget for one denim jacket, a dark washed one is what I’d choose. I love how dark the wash is because it’s easier to dress it up or down and it also has a slimming effect. I would avoid wearing jeans with a dark wash jacket unless they’re black because I don’t think it looks great and typically most men don’t know how to pair different washes of denim well. You can never go wrong with a pair of chinos and a crewneck t-shirt or sweater. If you want to dress the jacket up more, than pair it with some wool trousers and a collared shirt like I did in my fall accessory essentials article/video.

$118 – J.Crew denim jacket – Definitely go a size down than normal because you want a snug fit. Otherwise, the fit will be boxy which looks unflattering on every man regardless of your body type.
$24 – J.Crew t-shirt
$225 – J.Crew striped sweater
$40 – Uniqlo chinos in navy
$179 – Johnston & Murphy chukka boots
$415 – Tom Ford sunglasses 52mm

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$90 – Levi’s denim jacket (in Rinse) – Go with the next size down because you want a snug fit.

Grey Or Black Wash

Tall, dark, and handsome is how I describe the outfit you’ll be wearing with a grey (or black) denim jacket. Keep it all black – t-shirt, jeans, and boots. You can also go with a white t-shirt but I love how sharp an all black outfit looks with a gray denim jacket adding that perfect pop of monochrome color – it’s especially perfect for a night out.

$285 – AllSaints denim jacket
$75 – AllSaints black t-shirt
$168 – Diesel jeans
$750 – Prada chelsea boots
$415 – Tom Ford sunglasses in black

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$98 – Levis denim jacket

Steven Yeun Style

This article & video is part of the Celebrity Style Inspiration Series, where Antonio Centeno from RealMenRealStyle.com and I pick out great outfits from actors from movies and tv shows and demonstrate how to recreate and incorporate them into your wardrobe. 
In the other video/article, currently live on RMRS Channel & Website, we talked about Steven Yeun’s style from The Walking Dead, but I don’t think a lot of people know that Steven’s off-screen style is also very, very good. He’s one of the few male celebrities that I know who doesn’t use a stylist who looks amazing all the time. I’ve worked with him quite a few times over the years and he’s definitely one of the naturally best dressers I know – and a total sweetheart!

When I was deciding on which of his outfits to feature, I found this one from a red carpet appearance and loved it, so I texted to let him know that I was going to do a video about it. He said he was excited to see how I’d recreate it, so… Hi Steven! 

Below is Steven’s outfit I’m going to recreate for you. I specifically like this because it’s casual but has just the right blend of edginess to it with the boots and cuffed pants.

The Jacket & Sweater

I like Steven’s cardigan jacket a lot, but I prefer a bomber-style jacket instead (in my model image below) because not only does it look great on all body types, it also helps break up the top and bottom halves a little bit more with the black waistband, which also lends itself well to the cuffed pant and chelsea boot look. I had my model wear a plain white t-shirt underneath the sweater because it provides an extra layer of warmth and adds a nice little neutral accent just peeking through. 

Pants and Shoes

StevenYeunBottomHalfAshleyWeston

I added some dark wash jeans to stay true to the outfit and even though suede shoes are not my preference for most men, I went with similar suede boots because they work very well in Steven’s outfit. I especially love my choice because it’s a nice dark brown suede, which is easier to wear than a more reddish-oxblood brown or a lighter brown like Steven’s boots. My color choice will also look a little cleaner longer since it won’t show as many stains. 

And, of course, you’ve got to cuff/roll the jeans to complete the look.

My Version of this outfit

Topman Khaki Tailored Jersey Bomber Jacket (the original jacket I used isn’t available anymore, so this was the closest I could find from the same brand)
Life After Denim Heather Grey Astoria Crew Sweatshirt
Armani Exchange White Pima Crew Neck Tee
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit Stretch in Tumble
Vince Camuto ‘Bradbury’ Chelsea Boot

 

Designer Options

Frame Cotton Bomber Jacket 
Rag & Bone Depot Jacket
Acne Studios College Loopback Cotton-Jersey Sweatshirt
Sunspel Loopback Cotton-Jersey Sweatshirt
James Perse Short Sleeve Crew Neck 
Jil Sander Slim-Fit Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt
Burberry Brit Slim-Fit Washed Stretch-Denim Jeans
RRL Slim-Fit Selvedge Denim Jeans
John Lobb Lawry Suede Chelsea Boots
O’Keeffe Bristol Suede Chelsea Boots

Budget Friendly options

ASOS Jersey Bomber Jacket With Contrast Ribs in Khaki
Topman Khaki Cotton Bomber Jacket
H&M Gray Melange Sweatshirt 
Selected Homme Sweatshirt
American Apparel Fine Jersey Crewneck T-Shirt
Armani Exchange White Pima Crew Neck Tee
Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim Fit Jeans  
Levis 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans in Sargent Cypress
ASOS Chelsea Boots in Suede
Johnston & Murphy Garner Gore Boots

Outfit Inspiration For Chelsea/Suede Boots & Bomber Jackets

 

Men’s Summer Essentials Ebook

In this ebook, I’ll detail the items you need for summer, why you need them, and where to get them – in designer and budget-friendly options.

These items will work very well with the rest of your year-round essentials, so if you haven’t seen that series, check it out first.

My goal is to ensure you’re comfortable, wearing appropriate colors and items for the season, while looking amazing and not like a douchebag.

So download the book, pour a glass of… something (I prefer rosé) and let me show you the good stuff!






How Should A Sweater Fit?

A lot of my clients ask me how should a sweater fit, so I figured it was time to write down my typical answer so you can understand this, as well. These fit rules apply to any sweater, but I’ll use a v-neck sweater in my images below to demonstrate how a sweater should fit on a guy.

A quick note before we begin: Most sweaters are made of cotton, wool, cashmere or blends with other fabrics. This is a problem for tailors because the fabrics are fragile, which makes them very hard to work with, so you should find a sweater that fits you perfectly off the rack, as it’ll be very difficult, if not impossible, for a tailor to fix a majority of sweaters. The only exception are cotton crew necks. Those can easily be tailored.

What do I wear under a V-Neck Sweater or Crew New When Trying On?

It’s important you’re wearing the proper shirts when trying on your sweater so you can get the proper fit.

V-Neck Sweater

When you’re trying on a V-Neck sweater, you should only be wearing a Dress Shirt or Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt because these are the only two shirts that you should ever wear under a v-neck sweater. That means no t-shirts, polo shirts or any other kind of shirt. Just a collared shirt.

Crew Neck Sweater

When trying on a crew neck sweater, you should only be wearing a t-shirt or v-neck shirt because that’s all that should be worn under a crew neck. You might be able to get away with a collared shirt, but it’s not my preference to wear them with crew necks because it usually looks pretty bad.

What a Sweater Looks Like When its Too Small/Tight

I want you to see what a sweater looks like when it’s too small. See the points below for details.

How Should A Sweater Fit TooSmall

  1. Shoulders – If he pulled the sweater shoulder up so his shirt collar was tucked under the sweater collar, the seams would be sitting on top of his shoulders, which means its way too small. You can kind of see the seam sitting way too high on his shoulder on his bent arm side.
  2. Arm Hole – Way too tight, you can see it bunching underneath his armpit. I guarantee it’s incredibly uncomfortable.
  3. Neck/Collar – If he pulled the sweater so the collar was touching his shirt’s collar, the “v” of the neck would go down past the top of his armpits.
  4. Sleeve Length – The sleeves are way too short, which is why he has them pulled up on his forearms in this picture. I know this because (See the next point)
  5. Body Length – The body length is about 2 inches too short. At the shortest point, a sweater should hit past the bottom of your belt buckle.

What a Sweater Looks Like When Its Too Big

How Should A Sweater Fit Too Big

  1. Shoulders – The seams are way past where his shoulder starts sloping down and are just resting on the upper part of his arms – not good.
  2. Arm Hole – Way too big, so it’s making his chest look super wide and baggy with all that extra fabric around the chest area.
  3. Neck/Collar – You can tell it’s too large because you can see his shirt on the sides of his collar. If he pulled the sweater forward, so the “v” rests better against his shirt collar, the “v” would go past the top of his armpits.
  4. Sleeves – They’re hard to see because his hands are in his pockets, but with everything else not fitting properly, I’m sure the sleeves are way too long and not ending at the bend of his wrist. Also, they’re way too big and baggy, which just look floppy and wrinkled in odd places.
  5. Body Fit and Length – I bet if he pulled his hands out of his pockets, the sweater would be way too long and go past the 2 inch mark below his belt buckle. As you can see, there’s excess fabric on both sides of his torso because the sweater is just to big.

How long should a sweater be?

A sweater should end somewhere between just past your belt buckle and no more than 2 inches past that. In a lot of my other fit guides, I usually differentiate the length based on your height, but for a sweater it doesn’t matter. It should hit between those two points for everyone. This goes for all sweaters.

how should a sweater fit

Sleeves

Length

While wearing the sweater – when you bend your wrist, so your palms are facing the ground, the sleeves should end where your wrist ends. So where the white shirt cuff stops in my picture below. A sweater’s sleeves shouldn’t be totally smooth and ripple-free – if it is, that usually means it’s too small. It’s impossible for a sweater to fit like that, so don’t bother trying. Just make sure it ends at the bend of the wrist and not before or after.

Sleeve-Length-Ashely-Weston-How-Your-Suit-Should-Fit

Fit

The sleeves should fit close to your arm, but not so tight that you can see your muscles or the ripples of the shirt underneath (like the sweater that’s too tight above) or so loose that it’s floppy and folding on itself. The model I used was very muscular, but you can’t see his biceps well-defined, or the folds of his collared shirt under the sleeves.

Quick tip: If you’re wearing a v-neck sweater, lightly tug on the sweater sleeve so your dress shirt cuff is sticking out about 1/4″. It’ll have a little bunching near the wrist, that’s fine. As you can see in my picture below, it still looks great.

V-neck-sweater-header-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Shoulders

Like with all your garments in the Essential Series, you want the shoulder seams to hit just where your shoulders start to slope down into your arms. I call this “the natural end of your shoulder”. See the picture below for what I’m talking about – the seam hits perfectly at the point where the shoulder turns into the upper arm.

how should a sweater fit

Body

For any sweater, you want to be able to pinch no more than 2 inches of fabric on either side of your lower rib cage. You also don’t want to be able to pinch any less than 1 inch of fabric, as that’s way too tight. You want it to lightly hug your torso, but not be so loose or tight. This goes for ALL BODY TYPES. I know some of my larger clients fight me on this, but they always come around when they see how much better and fitted it looks. A little rippling in a sweater will always happen, so it’s unavoidable.

Collar

This only applies to v-necks, as crew neck sweaters are all pretty universal. You want the bottom of the “v” to be no lower than the top of your armpits.

Neck Opening

The opening of the v-neck should be just wide enough so that you can tuck your collar tips and they stay in place – like the image above. A wider opening than that would look terrible, as it’ll show too much shirt on the outside of the collar like the image of the too big sweater. For crew necks, they’re a pretty standard size – they shouldn’t be stretched out or show any shirt underneath.

Armholes

They shouldn’t be so high that they’re cutting into your armpits like in my “too small” image or so big and low that it looks like a bunch of excess fabric is around your chest like in my “too big” image near the top of this story.

The Best Sweaters Every Man Should Own

See my V-Neck Sweater Essential Article for my favorite sweaters that every man should own.

Credits

Photography: Justiin Charles
Model: Joseph Boyd at Wilhelmina Models
Hair/Makeup: Brendan Robertson for Exclusive Artists Management using Clarins Skincare and Kevin Murphy Hair Care