A Little Jean Jacket Odyssey

This is a short post about, for reasons still unknown to me, my brief inextinguishable desire for the perfect jean jacket.  Well, actually, any jean jacket.  I don’t know what it is about jean jackets that excite me, or why it may be the one article of clothing I will always desire, but I know when it began.

If there’s one thing those of us who are fortunate enough to buy clothes, but not fortunate enough to waste money on clothes can agree upon, it is that affection for one type of clothing, or one specific piece in a wardrobe.  We have a piece of clothing that has a story, and a reason why we can never get rid of it, no matter what has happened to it.  For my girlfriend, it was her favorite pair of jeans that were so comfortable, fit her so well, she still hasn’t thrown them out.  Even though she can’t wear them anymore because the holes on the back of the jeans have gotten so big you can almost fully see her ass, she won’t throw them out.  She doesn’t wear them, but they won’t go away.

For me, I have never had the real luxury of desire for clothing.  I’ve never been a person who has shopped for “new clothes.”  When I was a kid, we shopped at the Salvation Army.  Yes, there are people who actually shop there because they have to.  I found one shirt there that I can remember to this day, one of my favorite shirts ever: an orange, long-sleeved shirt that said “Airborne” on the front, in black, spray-painted letters, with some early-90’s-type skater image on the back.  I had to have it.  I don’t remember how I convinced my mom to get it for me, but I imagine there was a lot of whining and fake tears.

I’m more of the type who is…loyal to his clothes.  As long as my t-shirt is still a t-shirt, and it fits, I don’t see the need to get another one.  I had t-shirts I wore from 6th grade through my senior year in high school.  I had jeans I still wear that were gifts for me when I went away to college…in 2004.  They both had/have holes.  They both look(ed) terrible when worn (more on that later).  Yet still, as long as I can wear a piece of clothing, I will keep it.  I’m loyal to my clothing.

Or I’m lazy.  Either way.

There has only one piece of clothing that has captured my interest, aesthetically, over the past decade.  About five years ago I saw a friend of mine at a new year’s eve party wearing a faded jean jacket.  To that point, I’d only laughed at jean jackets.

My friend though – his jacket provoked me.  It inspired me.  Maybe it was my growing love of irony.  Maybe I was growing frustrated with my lack of progress in my own life, and I wanted to do something silly and outrageous.  Something that would let me express my sense of humor with minimum effort, and maximum immediacy.  I guess all that was part of it.

The other part – the part that really surprised me – was how he looked in the jacket.  He looked good in it.  Hell, he looked cool in it!  Something about this jacket looked very cool to me, but I couldn’t decide what it was.  I didn’t even want to figure that out; I just wanted to find my own, and be just as cool.  I told him he inspired me – I told him one day, I would have a jean jacket as cool as his…minus the vomit on the sleeve from drinking too much at the party.

It took me well over a year to find any jean jacket I liked.

That statement is far more impressive when I don’t follow it up with how I never actually looked for a jean jacket.  I never actively sought one out.  As I am lucky in love in my life, though, it seems I am lucky in jean jackets, because I stumbled upon the perfect one.

It was before Christmas last year, in the fall.  I had recently bought a new jacket (because I needed one), so I wasn’t looking for anything.  My girlfriend and I were looking for Christmas gifts for my dad.  We were walking through Sears, on our way into the mall, when we passed a the Levi’s section.  There, I saw a whole rack of jean jackets.  I pointed them out to her.  She, being the true better half, took me over to look at them.  As much as I wanted a jean jacket, I would have never looked at them if I was there alone.

We found one there.  One that fit.  It didn’t just fit – it looked damn good.  Damn cool.  I had to buy it, no matter how much it cost.  Luckily, they were on clearance (surprise!) for something absurd.  Something like fifteen dollars.  Or thirty.  I’m not sure:  I was so ecstatic I handed my card to the cashier, threw out the receipt, and even signed up for a Sears card.  I had found the coolest looking jean jacket ever, and it fit me like my friend’s fit him.

Remember when I parenthesized ‘more on that later’?  Well, here’s where that is.  Like every other person who has ever worn clothes, or looked in a mirror, I have a warped view of what I look like.  I’m thicker than my friend is (he stole his jean jacket from his mom’s closet).  That’s not to say I’m fat, or he’s a bean pole – he was actually on the football team in high school, squatting 450 pounds against his will.  If you knew him, especially now, you would never have believed those two statements in that sentence.  Except for the ‘against his will’ part.  Anyway, he stopped working out after high school, and now he’s just skinny and athletic.  A body type most people are jealous of, and one I apparently imagine I have when I wear clothes.  The jean jacket is still cool, but when I see myself wearing it in pictures, it’s coolness is lessened, if only slightly.  Through no fault of its own; just it’s affiliation with me.

It’s almost fall now, and it’s hanging in my closet still.  It will be for many years to come, or until I grow out of it.  It’s kinda small.

I’m thinking when that day comes, I’ll just cut the sleeves off.  That’ll be even cooler.

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