The trucker jacket is a garment with character. Toss one on and you’ve got an instant air of James Dean sangfroid. Or perhaps you’re going for a hint of Joey Ramone punk rock rebellion. Marlboro man more your speed? Any way you cut it, a trucker jacket spells attitude—but with a light touch (we’ll save leather moto jackets for another day). There’s a subtlety and versatility to trucker jackets that make them a workhorse in many men’s wardrobes.
Like most anything denim, the trucker’s story begins with Levi Strauss & Co. After pioneering blue jeans, the brand introduced its first denim “blouse” in 1905 as the outerwear equivalent of its hard-wearing pants. It was defined by a boxy fit, double-pleated front, rivet buttons and a single chest pocket. In 1953 it evolved into the Type II, which built upon the original’s workwear design with side tab adjusters and an additional chest pocket. It is the Type III, introduced in 1967, that set the template for most truckers we know today: vertical seams in place of its predecessors’ pleats, smaller chest pockets and the addition of warmer pockets.
As far as design goes, it is a pretty faultless specimen. In the years since, few have been able to improve upon its basic form. The materials, however, have moved far beyond classic indigo-dyed denim. The trucker is transformed into a luxurious off-duty layer when rendered in things like suede, woven cashmere and corduroy. While it’s no replacement for the polish of a blazer, a trucker jacket is an indispensable topper to have in your outerwear arsenal. Here are nine of the best to buy now.