This summer, add denim to your wardrobe

Kristyn Schiavone

The other weekend I left my denim jacket in a cab. It was unexpectedly tragic, as half of my clothes were either not warm enough for the office or not appropriate for work. I had no suitable outerwear for summer evenings. I felt as lost as the jacket itself.

A denim jacket is a quintessential summer piece that you'll find yourself wearing almost daily. Basically, if you have one, your life could be a lot better. Here are five reasons why:

It's an affordable outerwear option.

My denim jacket cost $69.50 at Gap, and my replacement was recently on sale for $49.50. Denim is also very robust, so unless you lose it, like I did, you're not likely to need another one for a while. This is one of the only pieces you'll ever buy that actually looks better with a little wear and tear.

It's machine washable.

You wash your jeans, right? Unlike wool or other fabrics, you can throw your denim jacket right into the washer with a full load of laundry and get rid of coffee, beer, sand, sweat, nacho cheese, saltwater and all other summer stain culprits.

It's just the right size for summer.

During the summer, you don't need a major jacket. I have a cropped leather jacket that I wore for the few weeks I lacked my trusty denim one, and even in Chicago I got a little toasty. You don't want something heavy, and you certainly don't want something that's cumbersome to carry around, since you may not be wearing it all the time. A denim jacket is the perfect weight and size for "in case it gets cold at night" or "my office is always freezing."

It goes with everything.

All summer dresses look miraculously awesome with denim jackets. Personally, I believe it has replaced the cardigan as the thing to wear over sheath and A-line dresses. I also often wear it with maxis, which don't always have an appropriate neckline for the office.

It even goes with more denim.

Denim on denim is where it's at. Just look at a photo of Kendall Jenner on Vogue's website.

Shopping for a denim jacket is usually not that stressful. However, there are mistakes to be made. True confessions: I once owned one that had a faded eagle on the back, and I think also some fringe. This look is only cool if you bought the jacket in a vintage store and the owner was 90 percent sure it had been worn to Woodstock. It is definitely not cool if it was manufactured by a mass retailer in 2003.

The modern denim jacket is a plain, cropped version that basically looks exactly like jeans, including the buttons. The wash is up to you, but keep it simple and avoid excessive fading, dying, fringe, distress or other common denim destruction. I have a lot of dark jeans, so I picked a lighter wash for my denim jacket because I wanted the contrast.

I also once had a white denim jacket. But buyers beware: It will get irreconcilably dirty, and it's not multi-seasonal.

In terms of the fit, my last jacket was a small; this one is a medium. Upon purchasing the first one, I wanted to make sure it wasn't too bulky, since I planned to wear it indoors at times, but I found it a little difficult to wear with anything but sleeveless pieces. The upgrade to a medium still looks effortless with my summer outfits.