The Jean Jacket

I wore my jean jacket to nursery school drop-off this morning. Admittedly, I was feeling fashionably courageous, pairing it with a new skirt, leather boots, and a funky scarf. As soon as I shrugged myself into its familiar shape, little A. yelled, “Whoa, it looks like jeans! What are you wearing, Mama?” He’s never seen my jean jacket before, hence the surprised reaction. The truth is, my beloved jean jacket spends most of its time at the back of the closet, relegated there after a short but illustrious reign as ‘most favourite item.’ I’ll confess it’s still one of my favourites, something I’ll never get rid of, but I know it will never return to its former glory. Let me tell you about my jean jacket…

When I arrived in Sardinia, Italy, for a Rotary student exchange at age sixteen, I’d taken my mother’s less-than-wise advice and packed as if going on a camping trip, instead of moving to the most fashionable country in the world for a year. To this day, I still cringe at the thought of how few clothes were in my bag — perhaps three or four T-shirts, two pairs of jeans, and a few extra odds and ends. As you can imagine, I had a lot of catching up to do, which wasn’t possible to the extent I craved, thanks to a limited student budget and astronomical Italian prices, but hey, I did my best.

One of the first items I bought was a jean jacket because I quickly realized that all Italian teenagers wear jean jackets — and by all, I mean truly everyone. On any given night hanging out in the piazza, or waiting outside the school gates, or going for lunch at the paninoteca, the young people melded into a great sea of denim topped with that iconic dark Sardinian hair. I stood out enough as it was with my flaming red mop, so the jean jacket helped ever so slightly to blend in. I bought one and wore it daily for a year, until it disappeared on a ferry to Naples. I overcame my devastation and confidently spent nearly 150 Euros on a new jean jacket right before returning to Canada.

You've gotta love these embarrassing old photos. Let me just assure you this was a LONG time ago!
Grade 12 and the item of clothing I wore almost every single day for a year, until I realized I was the only person in the high school wearing anything like it. That was a sad moment.

Not such a great idea. What I didn’t realize is that Canadian teens don’t wear jean jackets. I continued trying to wear my jean jacket to high school, but the denim-on-denim look didn’t feel quite so cool as it had in Europe. I blamed it on Canadian lack of style awareness and hoped to start a new trend, but no luck. My niggling doubts were confirmed when my supremely fashionable cousin Gillian saw me wearing the jacket and said (no malice intended), “It’s too bad jean jackets aren’t fashionable anymore.” I gulped and, from that day on, my beloved jacket has inhabited the back of the closet.

I won’t get rid of it because: a) I love it still, b) I spend so much freaking money on it, c) it brings back good memories, and d) I keep hoping mainstream fashion will catch up and see how supremely cool jean jackets really are. What’s happened in the meantime is that I’ve grown up (that was almost 10 years ago) and no longer care as much about what mainstream fashion dictates. So that jean jacket might actually get quite a bit more use this year and today is a good day to start.

Do you have any ‘clothing ghosts’ in your closet?

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7 thoughts on “The Jean Jacket

  1. So good!
    1) I was out looking for a new jean jacket over the weekend!! They all seemed to be cropped or studded or bleached…but my search will go on! I “lost” my old fav in the move back from Argentina! But I say, jean jackets are ALWAYS in style!!!
    And 2)…so funny, I have a close friend who did a similar exchange in high school to the south of France and came home with her very own identical euro Fashion staple! She wore it ALL the time! She eventually picked up the nickname jean machine, for her denim on denim looks! Im sure she still wears it to this day!!
    Can’t wait to find my new-old fav!!!

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