The Item I Wear to Death: My Gap 1969 Denim Jacket

I'm basic. So sue me.

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(Image credit: Courtesy of Danielle McNally)

In our biweekly series, our editors will be sharing "the item they wear to death," whether it be a basic white tee or a super-trendy jumpsuit. Prepare yourself (and your credit card) for some guilt-free shopping.

I never leave home without my jean jacket. At this point the light-wash Gap 1969 denim topper is essentially an extension of my body. I’ve had it for a good six years now—well, in some version; I left its predecessor hanging on a hook under the bar in a Manhattan restaurant, realized 20 minutes later I didn’t have it, returned to said restaurant to retrieve it, cried when it wasn’t there, and purchased a new one the very next day—and in that time it’s criss-crossed the continent from Massachusetts to California, and been to every country I have, including Norway and Guatemala. And why wouldn’t I pack it every time? It’s the perfect travel companion: It goes with everything and never wants to sightsee when you want to sleep in. (I kid. Kinda.)

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Here, the jean jacket appears alongside a maxi dress, an oversized scarf, and my friends at our hotel in Antigua, Guatemala.

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Here, the denim jacket tops off a tank-and-skirt combo for dinner at the beach in Sicily, Italy.

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This particular style has tabs at the hem that can be buttoned in two different places to accentuate the waist and a little interior pocket that fits my phone (maybe all jackets have this, but I only recently discovered it in mine and it’s been a game-changer). The outerwear is the right weight for all weathers. AC blasting at dinner? Throw on your denim jacket. A bit breezy after sunset? Grab your denim jacket. Not cold enough to warrant a puffer? That denim jacket will do. It looks stylish just hanging from my hand, which means I’m never annoyed if I carry it around all day without ever putting it on. (As my father always says, “better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”)

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At left, the jacket paired with a navy shift dress and tan heels for the office #HearstElevatorSelfie. At right, the jacket layered over a hoodie and under a very chic orange lifevest for boating in Balestrand, Norway.

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But it's not just a travel piece. The jacket has the all-important Very First Spot in my closet because I reach for it—I'd estimate—once a week. I wear it winter, spring, summer, and fall. I wear it to the office, over cocktail dresses, with minis, maxis, shorts, and pants. Name a thing it can’t be worn with. You can’t. Because even a Canadian tuxedo is no longer a faux pas.

At this point, I wear it so often, it’s become a thing my boyfriend teases me about. But I don’t care, the jacket and I have more history. If I’ve convinced you that you, too, need a jacket like this in your life, you can go ahead and purchase your own right here. I promise you won’t regret it.

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(Image credit: Gap)

Gap icon denim jacket, $70 SHOP IT


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Danielle McNally
Executive Editor

Danielle McNally is a National Magazine Award–winning journalist. She is the executive editor of Marie Claire, overseeing features across every topic of importance to the MC reader: beauty, fashion, politics, culture, career, women's health, and more. She has previously written for Cosmopolitan, DETAILS, SHAPE, and Food Network Magazine