Wearable Story: Denim Jacket

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James Dean

The history of the denim jacket dates back to the 1880s, when Levi Strauss decided to complement his incredibly popular product–the denim jean–with a matching top. A durable, breathable fabric, denim was first used by Strauss to create comfortable and long-lasting bottoms for miners and railroad engineers to work in. The consequent denim jacket, although originally intended to be a button up shirt for blue-collar workers, was soon adopted by the U.S. Military as part of a new uniform known as “working blues.” By the 1950s, the denim jacket had evolved into a symbol of rebellion and delinquency. Since then, the denim jacket has gone through a variety of different phases. Some notable denim-wearers that contributed to changes in the denim jacket culture include Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Elvis Presley. 


A replica of the first Levi’s denim jacket 

My denim jacket is one of the most versatile items I own. Unlike other types of apparel, the denim jacket is something that can be worn in multiple seasons and for multiple occasions. In the spring and early summer, I usually wear my denim jacket in order to dress down my outfit. A denim jacket makes a fancy sundress or a nice blouse and skirt look more casual. In the fall, I use my denim jacket as transition outerwear before it gets cold enough to wear a down coat. The versatility of denim jackets becomes even more impressive when you consider variations on the indigo-blue classic. Although a plain blue denim jacket can go with almost any color or pattern, a black denim jacket can provide more of formal or evening feel, while a white denim jacket is most suitable to wear over a dress in the summer. You can get also get fur- or woll-lined jackets that will last through cold winter months. 

Denim apparel goes in and out of fashion all the time. I would not be caught dead today with the denim, rainbow-sequened shoulder bag I used when I was six, or the denim wrap headband I wore when I was ten, but my denim jacket is something I have worn forever and will continue to pull out of my closet year after year. 


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