How to Wear Patches on Jean Jackets: A Complete Style Guide

Did you know that the clothing industry accounts for 10% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions? Breaking the cycle of fast fashion (the biggest culprit of this environmental impact) means wearing the clothing we have for longer and making each piece last.

One of the best ways that you can stretch an article of clothing’s life cycle is to update it over time. Not only will this keep your pieces looking modern but it will ensure that your wardrobe looks fresh–even if it isn’t!

Looking for a way to upgrade your closet today? Why not try putting patches on a jean jacket to give it a little extra modern-meets-retro flare?

Read on for our complete style guide to jean jacket patches, how to choose them, and where to place them.

Where Can You Find Jean Jacket Patches?

Are you ready to start building your collection of jean jacket patches? There are a few ways to approach this process.

The first is totally DIY. All you need are some fabric scraps, some thread, and a sewing needle.

To create a DIY patch, cut your fabric scrap to the size and shape you desire. Decide on a phrase or pattern to hand embroider, sketch it out with a light-colored marker or pen, and stitch over your drawing until you’re happy with the thickness of your design.

The upside to the DIY patch is that they’re customizable, cheap, and fun to make. The downside is that they aren’t quite as sturdy as machine-made patches, and may not withstand the washing machine very many times.

If you’re looking for something a little bit more permanent, head for embroidered patches for jean jackets. You can find tons of cute, retro patches on websites like and they’ll even custom-make designs for you!

How to Wear Patches on Jean Jackets

Whether you’re going DIY, embroidered, or a mix of both, it’s time to think about how you want to place your patches. Remember, the goal is to create a trendy, cute look without compromising wearability. Let’s take a look at some amazing options that are worth trying!

The Hero Patch Collage

One way to set up your arrangement is to start with what we like to call a “hero” patch. This is a patch that is much larger than the rest and sets the overall tone for the rest of your jacket.

Hero patch placement will determine where the rest of your smaller “stamp” patches go, so start with that. If you’re a fan of symmetry, place your hero patch in the center of the back of your jacket and surround it with a circle of smaller patches. Alternatively, you can place your hero patch along the lower front hem of your jacket or just under the breast pocket.

The Solo Statement Patch

Is the collage look not your thing? Don’t worry! A single patch can still take your old denim jacket from faded to full-on fabulous.

The placement of your patch will depend on the shape. For example, a jumbo square patch will look cool on one breastplate of your jacket, starting at the shoulder seam and ending at the top of the breast pocket. On the other hand, a uniquely shaped patch will shine most on the back, either right in the center or up between your shoulder blades.

The Themed Patch Look

Some people rock the all-over mix-and-match look, but maybe you prefer a theme. Think about some of the clothes you tend to pull out the closet the most. What colors and patterns are you finding there?

Then, purchase five to fifteen small patches that fit the theme. We’re a big fan of floral patterns, but your theme can be funkier, too! Maybe you want to use patches from your favorite TV show or get really retro and find patches resembling your favorite childhood toys.

The “Tattoo Sleeve” Look

If you’ve ever seen someone with a full or half tattoo sleeve, you probably know where we’re going with this. A tattoo sleeve covers the arm from the top of the shoulder down to either the elbow or the wrist. The final look is gorgeous and unique but for some of us, going under the needle isn’t quite what we have in mind.

Instead, use your patches to create a mock tattoo sleeve. Pick one arm and dot it with tons of patches that give your denim jacket a whole new color scheme. Be careful about placement when it comes to areas like the elbow–you still want the jacket to move with you when you have it on!

The Denim Varsity Jacket

If you went to high school in the past seventy or so years, you’ve probably seen the classic varsity jacket. Usually, these jackets are made from silk, satin, or wool. However, there’s nothing stopping you from recreating the varsity look on your trusty denim!

The varsity look tends to consist of three important components. You’ve got a phrase on the back, typically with a slight arch to it, as well as a big letter on the breastplate. Then, you might have a few extra patches on the shoulder, across the waist pockets, and along the bottom of the back.

Reuse and Personalize Your Denim with Patches

Do you want to reduce your clothing waste but feel like your denim is getting a little bit tired? Grab some patches and give your denim jacket a second life! Patches give you the opportunity to make clothing items into something 100% unique, retro, and totally trendy.

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