Live Action Getup: The Black Denim Jacket

Live Action Getup: The Black Denim Jacket
Can’t justify buying a (real) leather jacket? Don’t try to fake it with faux – go black denim.

Wow! You guys loved our Badass Style Inspiration Gallery – 120 Photos of Men with Edge from last week! But there was one question I got over and over again in the contact form and on Twitter (@primermag): What are my thoughts on more affordable, fake leather jackets, and should you go for one if you don't want to drop the cash on a real leather one?

My thoughts have always been very black and white – either wear a leather jacket, or don't. Leather jackets are powerful at making a statement about the person wearing them. There's a lot of cultural subtext going back 80+ years when a guy dons one. A lot of it rooted in America's unspoken definitions of roguish men.

The one thing you don't want it to say? “I couldn't afford the real thing.”

It's impressive what the industry has been able to do with modern plastics, being able to mimic the look and feel of real leather better and better every year. But as the Supreme Court famously noted of pornography, with real leather, you'll “know it when you see it.” Even the laymen can pick up on fake leather jackets – the way it lays, the uniform grain, its smell (or lack of). The better fake options are astonishingly expensive, sometimes upward of $200, a price that boggles my mind.

So instead of spending that much on a fake one, go for an option with a similar silhouette that's very reasonably priced: The Black Denim Jacket.

Only slightly less badass than a leather jacket, a black denim jacket goes with everything. I love a traditional dark blue denim jacket. I've had my rigid Levi's Trucker for a few seasons now, and it's constantly a go-to. But the one thing you can't wear a dark blue jean jacket with is, you guessed it, dark blue jeans, one of the most common staples every guy has.

black denim jacket gray henley brown boots thursday boots dstld jeans - men's fall fashion outfit ideas

Gap raglan henley alternative raglan sleeve henely zara denim jacket h&m black denim jacket timex expedition citizen BM810 durable goods denim jacket zara denim jacket DSTLD slim jeans timber Calvin Klein slim Thursday Boots President dior fahrenheit american made wallets tommy john pete and pedro sea salt spray

Wearing a blue denim jacket and blue jeans can be done. But it's tough. Eliminate that nagging voice in the back of your head asking, “Wait, does this count as a Canadian Tuxedo,” while looking in the mirror, and instead go black. Pair your black denim jacket with a marled henley and you've got a casual, dark outfit you can wear almost anywhere.

When you finish everything off with a beautiful pair of brown leather boots, well heck, there's no stopping you. Who says you can't wear black with brown? Not Primer, I promise you that.

Just like leather jackets you want to avoid fake leather boots when at all possible. However, things get harder to spot with boots. A lot of shoe manufacturers use leather that is only technically leather, where they take the least quality leather leftovers and use them as the backing to grain-stamped plastic. The part you see is plastic, but they can still get away with calling them leather. Finding a pair of quality leather boots with a slim profile and sole (making them super versatile) is frustratingly hard. If you can't opt for the $370 Wolverine 1000 Miles, you've been traditionally stuck with fashion boots.

I've had these Thursday Boot Presidents ($199) for a couple of years now and really love them. Great quality, Goodyear Welted, and full glove lining makes them comfortable right out of the box with minimal wear-in needed. The color and simple, sleek design make them style chameleons, adapting and adding to whatever level of dress you wear them with.

This Timex Expedition is sharp style on a mac and cheese budget. At only $47, it's got a ruggedly sexy vibe that contributes to the overall look in a way a metal watch or dressier watch can't. Ready for something a little better? You can upgrade to a Citizen for $120.

These slim jeans are from a brand I've been wearing for a long time called DSTLD. They're based out of LA (and have a popup shop at Platform in Culver City right now if you're local), and make high quality jeans with a modern fit for only $75. I have a heck of time finding slimmer jeans that aren't too baggy in the thigh and calf, while also having that contemporary narrow taper I'm after. These fit great, and I've actually had them for a couple of years. A few of their models are even made in LA, including this pair. For friends that I've turned onto both Thursday Boots and DSTLD, they've been very happy.

Thursday Boots Captain black denim jacket gray henley DSTLD jeans

Boots: Thursday, $199 | Denim Jacket: Zara, $50 | Jeans: DSTLD, $75 | Henley: Gap, $22

What do you think of this look?

Chat with me in the comments, and don't forget to share it!

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • Zac Silk

    Love the look of a denim. Jacket. I’ve just got a dark denim one and black in next on the list. I’ve been inverting this combination for a while with a pair of black jeans and a dark denim jacket.

    I’m at the stage where I’m hulking out the jacket to get the perfect fit, but hopefully during fall I’ll be able to layer with it.

    • Andrew

      Looks great, love the hoodie!

      • Zac Silk

        Thanks Andrew! Original penguin seem to be turning out some great stuff this year.

  • anónimo

    How do the jackets fit? I tried on some Levi Trucker Jackets at Macy’s and they fit a little snug around my chest, but was well fitting everywhere else. I’d like to get a denim jacket and these are less than those Levi Trucker Jackets too! Any info is helpful!

    • Andrew

      You want a denim jacket to be a little snug at first, watch my video where I talk about it

    • rogun

      Levi trucker jackets often run small nowadays, and the sizing will vary, too. Gap sizing is more consistent and theirs run a little bigger. I currently own a couple of Levi truckers, and even though I struggle to find jackets that aren’t too big, I’ve had to return a couple of Levi jackets because they were too small and I mean way too small.

  • browneagle44 ロベルト

    Thanks for showing alternatives! I stay away from Zara after multiple artists documented them ripping off their work and telling them they can’t do anything about it.

  • Ryan N

    My AE Extreme Flex denim jacket in black has been my go-to whenever it dips below chilly (and with marled henleys and dark jeans, no less!). Super easy to layer and easy to wear, and it’s slightly off-black so it’s getting a nice worn-in look to it already. The little bit of flex helps it to stay tight while not being rigid.

    • Andrew

      Yesssss denim jackets with stretch are great

  • Fillmore

    This is a great getup! Just a word of advice, I ordered the Alternative Men’s Raglan from Amazon a few months back in a large (I have an athletic build, 5’11”, 180lbs, 42″ chest, typically wear a 42R in suits) and it was extremely tight and short in length. I would definitely order a size up from what you typically purchase.

    Any alternatives to the Timex and Citizen with a larger case? For whatever reason, watches with a 40mm or smaller case look terribly small on my wrist. 44mm and 45mm are just the right size for me. Great post Andrew!

    • Andrew

      You could throw an olive/green NATO on a watch you have

    • Vance Green

      Check out the Seiko Snzg15. It’s an automatic, bead blasted 42mm case, amazing lume. Even movement not with standing, it has a much nicer feel to it than the citizen mentioned on this article. I got the same citizen for my father in law a few years ago. He is happy, but I was less impressed than I expected.

  • Scott Ingalls
    • Andrew

      I love that jacket!

    • rogun

      That’s one nice looking jacket!

  • yellowghetto

    Hey Andrew,

    Did you go with a medium or large in that Zara Jacket?

    • Andrew

      Mine is a small which is consistent with what I’ve been wearing

      • yellowghetto

        thanks for the reply! good to know they are pretty consistent first time buying something from them and you never know.

  • Joseph Padilla

    I got the Bullhead denim jacket with stretch that’s got a nice faded black to ignite with black hardware that I got from Marshall’s. I call it “Toothless” like that dragon from “How To Train Your Dragon.” It needs some more lovin’ since my leather biker and Alpha Industries bomber have been getting more play time than it does.

    It also bears noting: Whenever I do denim-on-denim with this jacket paired with black jeans, the vibe is more Zac Efron circa mid-2010s rather than Justin Timberlake 2001. Very cool!

  • Derrik Ollar

    I’ve got the black Levi’s trucker jacket from their commuter line. It’s designed for riding a bike or motorcycle so the back is a little longer and when you bend over your bike to hold the handlebars, your pants are still covered on your backside. The denim has been treated so that it is water repellent and the seams have reflective stitching and details. If you are caught out in a downpour, there is a nylon hood rolled up and hidden in the backside of the collar. It also has a tiny bit of elastic in the denim so that it moves better with the body. For living in the Northwest, it’s really genius because it functions as a rain jacket too.

  • rogun

    I wore a Levi’s trucker in dark denim today and still have it on while reading this. These are also great to wear under coats for some added flair and warmth.

    Last Spring, I purchased the black Line 8 jacket below and can’t wait to wear it this fall, so thanks for the ideas Andrew! I’ve also been interested in those DSTLD jeans for a while now, so I’ll have to try them soon.

    • Andrew

      Ohhh yeahhhhh that looks great! Like the one pocket.

  • Jose C

    What color are those jeans?
    I cant seem to find the exact match on the DSTLD website.