Why I’ll always love this style staple
Words: Foyin Ogunrombi | Photography: Ian Engelbrecht
Growing up, one of the fashion moments I vividly remember from 2001 was Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake wearing head-to-toe denim. Not only did that give me an obsession with matching couple outfits (my not-so-guilty pleasure that I’ve yet to convince any partner to actually do with me), it also sparked my reverence for denim dressing.
As a 1.78m woman in a country where the average height is 1.59m, jeans are something I’ve always struggled to purchase. At 11 years old, I was already wearing pants from the adult section, because they were the only ones that were long enough, and by the time I reached high school, I was a woman of ankle grazers before they even became a trend. The average fit was ever-so awkward and the only pair of jeans that I held dear to my heart came from Primark. How was it that my treasured fabric, this wholesome textile, wasn’t for me? Why couldn’t I enjoy it with the same ease that other people did?
And then I met the denim bolero. It was about 2008, I was a precocious and fashion-obsessed 12 year old and I thought this was the best invention in the whole world. It was short by design, with sleeves that sat right by my wrists, and it was made of denim. My world had changed, because I had thought that my denim dreams were doomed. Lo and behold, there was a world of denim that wouldn’t discriminate. The denim jacket became my fashion saviour. Granted, the bolero trend didn’t last (and that is a loss we can make peace with), but I swiftly moved onto denim vests, white denim, DIY-ing my own bleach and tie-dye jobs and doing my own patchwork and bejewelled customisation.
The denim jacket became the blank canvas on which I could create whatever I wanted and it also became a staple in my closet. Over the years, my denim jackets and I have made a lot of memories. Many I’ve loved, many I’ve lost, many I’ve literally lost (because I’ve lent them to friends) and many I’ve accrued in all of their iterations. From the vintage fighter pilot style that my sister thrifted for me from the US to my crisp white jacket from dailyfriday that I’ve never been able to keep clean – denim jackets are more than just another layer to me.
The denim jacket is a staple in my wardrobe that has stood the test of time. It gave me confidence as a young girl and it still makes me feel like a bit of a badass as a young adult. It’s a piece of clothing that’s unproblematic, because it suits every race, gender and size, it’s versatile for a variety of occasions, it’s #DayZero friendly, since it doesn’t need to be washed often, and it’s a part of so many iconic fashion moments. Cool, comfortable and effortless, it doesn’t get nearly as much credit as it deserves.