In ‘Jean’ ious

Chanel Jacket
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Yves Saint Laurent famously proclaimed: “I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most practical, the most relaxed, and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity! All I hope for in my clothes”. Indeed, blue jeans are a global common denominator: universal, democratic, and across the board. We all live in blue jeans and they have become the most cherished, most essential parts of our wardrobes. Finding the perfect fit has become an ongoing obsession.

 Saturday Kate Spade denim moto jacket

There’s a lot to be said about denim. It looks as good in stark white or black, or in its infinite shades of blue, which are obviously the most iconic. (Forget about “50 Shades of Gray”, how about “50 shades of denim”?). Durable and humble (which doesn’t necessarily make it inexpensive, as we all know), you can dress it up or dress it down; it acts as a neutral and goes with everything, pairing as well with leopard and fur, as it does with tweed, leather, or velvet. And it’s a perfect foil for diamonds, pearls, and gold. No wonder it’s a crowd pleaser, beloved by customers and designers alike.

Givenchy zipped denim jacket

Denim’s popularity shows no signs of abating; if anything I think this is just the tip of the iceberg (Marie Claire even devoted their entire August issue to denim calling it “The Denim Issue”). And while there are endless finishes and washes, (I love them all), I am partial to the stiff, darker washes. They are inherently more versatile, urban, sophisticated, and seasonless, which makes them ideal for right now, during this transitional period bridging summer and fall. It’s also worth noting that dark indigo denim looks especially good paired with white, black, and brown. FYI, I loved the way Bottega Veneta designer Tomas Meier used dark Japanese denim to create a perfect shirt dress, skinny jeans, and high waisted pencil skirt for the launch of his lower priced eponymous resort 2015 collection (he describes it as a study in “elevated essentials” that are “casual yet still designed”).

The ultimate jean jacket made of denim paillettes Chanel Pre-Fall

Right now, I am loving the look of head to toe dark stiff denim (it has the formal correctness of a military uniform), and since cooler weather is upon us, I’m particularly obsessed with denim outerwear. Let’s start with the jean jacket. Admittedly, it’s become so common and ubiquitous at this point, it’s almost a cliché, but let’s face it: there are jean jackets and then there are JEAN jackets. At the high end of the spectrum (and probably the most luxurious and ingenious take), is Karl Lagerfeld’s jean jacket which is entirely covered with denim paillettes and piped in gold ($7900 at Chanel boutiques). It’s from his western themed pre fall 2014 collection for Chanel which was shown in Dallas, Texas and was quite heavy on denim (Karl even created suede and leather boots that were dyed in various shades of blue denim).

Christopher Kane chunky zip denim jacket

Other jean jackets that are not run of the mill (and they are thankfully less precious and less costly): Christopher Kane’s chunky zip denim jacket (, 650 pounds (check for conversion into dollars); Givenchy’s collarless denim jacket with double zippers, (it’s on sale from $1309 to $589); Kate Spade Saturday’s denim moto jacket with buckled belt, $170; Anne Taylor’s dressed up denim jacket with black leather sleeves, $149,

 Derek Lam indigo cotton blend denim trench coat
with brushed jersey sleeves

And yes, there is life after the jean jacket: enter the denim trench coat. Almost nobody makes a better trench than Derek Lam, who is known for his minimalist tailored sportswear. Unsurprisingly, his denim trenches are always perfection, and boast all the traditional bells and whistles one hopes to find in this wardrobe staple (I still remember the belted trench and matching dress in indigo denim linen, from his California inspired spring 2011 collection). For spring 2014, he used cerulean blue denim to create a wide belted trench coat and a beautifully constructed dress. His indigo cotton blend denim trench with brushed jersey sleeves is currently available at, $1990.

Marc Jacobs denim pea jacket

Finally, as you know, I always love seeking out vintage, and I love a bargain. A recent online search turned up several well priced, appealing items. I found a slim cut vintage 90’s French dark denim trench coat and a wide legged dead stock dark denim jumpsuit, on On a Ralph Lauren Jeans dark rinsed trench with nautical gold buttons, $120; a Marc by Marc Jacobs cotton denim belted short trench in a medium dark blue wash; a BCBG belted trench; and an 80’s dark wash Norma Kamali jean jacket. By the way, I just remembered that fabulous vintage 90’s Norma Kamali dark denim mechanic jumpsuit I have hanging somewhere in my closet. It could not be more perfect for now.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. Hi Marilyn,
    The word on the street is that Atheleisure wear is the death of denim?
    What if there were a jean that fit and moved just as well as Atheleisure wear and, could be worn 5, 6, even 7 times without washing?
    Enter Marc Allison Jeans: By blending high-technology and high fashion, Marc Flashberg of Marc Allison Jeans reinvigorated denim as a staple in fashion. He revitalized the denim industry with a technologically advanced fiber that gives his jeans an unprecedented 4-way stretch. Flashberg termed it X-Fit, which enables the denim to move in all directions and to also recover perfectly.
    A key to the amazing resilience and uniquely soft, luxurious feel is the introduction of Pima Cotton to the fabric. The result is a light fabric that is nevertheless extremely durable that is extremely similar to Atheleisure wear.
    Women all over world rejoice; Denim is not dead! Check out why they are called “The Next Generation in Denim.”

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