Customised Denim Jackets are Every Bride’s Must-Have this Year

Something old, something new and something blue – the 70’s fashion trend forecast to make an appearance this 2024 wedding season

Retro-inspired weddings are at the forefront of bridal fashions for 2024 with the trend, coined as Groovy Nuptials by Pinterest Predicts 2024 trend report, focusses on the styles of the ‘70s. Whilst the decade’s staples of sequins and feathers might feel right at home at a wedding, fashion experts forecast that custom denim will be the unexpected gate-crasher of this wedding season. 

Not only are brides and grooms looking to the past for wedding inspiration, but small scale and DIY occasions are also rising in popularity. UK Google searches for ‘DIY Wedding’ are up 18% in the last quarter, whilst ‘Small Wedding’ clocked up 12k searches in the last month, a rise of 12% quarter on quarter. 

The fashion experts at Gap have teamed up with the Style Guru, Designer, Celebrity Stylist, and Personal Style Coach, SJ Adams to provide guidance for all brides and grooms-to-be on how to achieve a custom wedding denim jacket that can tick off something old, something new and something blue, if reviving an already owned denim jacket.  

SJ comments: “This is such a massive trend at the moment and one that is relatively easy to pull off. To complement the formal wedding feel but with a touch of personality and edge, opt for a well-worn, light-washed denim jacket. 

“The idea is to create a juxtaposition by playing off the ‘hard’ street look of denim with ‘soft’ feminine embellishments often associated with weddings, such as pearls, diamante, fringing, feathers and lace.

“If you want to add wording to your jacket, you could opt to buy pre-made iron-on lettering to create your slogan of choice. For a more custom aesthetic, use a computer to design and print out your wording, then trace the outline onto your jacket.  

“Finish off by filling in the lettering using fabric paint or textile foil for a metallic look, or if you’re not afraid to invest some time, use individual beads or diamantés fixed with a hot glue gun. The more skilled could try cutting out lettering from a different fabric, such as lace, and use iron on adhesive to stick them in place, trimming the edges with string pearls to make the overall look pop.

“For an elegant yet edgy jacket, try attaching strings of pearls and diamantés with chunky safety pins and finish with a selection of well-placed vintage brooches.”

For those who can’t sew, SJ adds: “Don’t be put off if you have no idea how to thread a needle. There are plenty of crafting options to make your customisation project super easy, from iron-on transfers, fabric adhesive and hot glue, to fabric paint and textile metallic foil. And don’t forget good old safety pins! Even for someone with limited skills, there’s quite literally no excuse not to bring your creative vision to life.”

The money saving elements as well as the desired aesthetic may not be the only thing driving this trend forward, as sentimental clothing can actually help people to retain memories of occasions. Dr Carolyn Mair, a Cognitive Psychologist and global fashion business consultant reveals the psychology behind outfits and how customised looks can actually help us remember events and occasions.

How clothing can unlock memories

When it comes to how it is clothing can help us activate memories of events experienced whilst wearing them, Dr Carolyn, who also authored The Psychology of Fashion, reveals: 

“Clothing can act as a mnemonic, or memory device, anchoring memories to specific sensory experiences. Because clothing plays a significant role in how we encode, retrieve, and relive memories, it provides a tangible link to past experiences and emotions and the stronger the emotion at the time of the experience, the easier it is to recall it. 

“Creating something custom for an event can enhance memories due to the deep psychological (including sensory) and emotional connections formed in its creation. The personal significance reflects individual tastes and identity making it more meaningful, while the emotional investment in the creation strengthens memory encoding and recall enhancing the overall nostalgic experience.

“Choosing a wedding style based on personal nostalgia allows the bride to incorporate elements that reflect their uniqueness rather than conforming to conventional norms. This can make the item more meaningful and create strong recallable memories. When personal style is guided by nostalgia, every detail can hold memories that enhance the emotional depth of the item and event, evoking strong feelings of comfort, joy, continuity and a sense of connection to the past when triggered in the future.”

Gap UK’s Head of Buying, Sapna Brooks, shares tips from the fashion experts at Gap for customising your denim at home:

“At Gap, we’ve always believed in individuality and self-expression, so it’s inspiring to see the creativity and customisation emerging in this trend.”

“There’s also the added sustainable benefit of giving new life to your favourite or pre-loved clothing through upcycling, and working towards prolonging the longevity of our denim is something Gap is an advocate for.

“Whilst denim is a resilient fabric, perfect for creating a memory keepsake with, being able to clean and maintain your denim’s colour, shape and fit is a huge part of prolonging its lifespan, so we’ve outlined how best to protect your denim in our Denim Care Guide.”

How to customise your denim at home

1. Embroidery

Think about infusing your denim with a unique flair through embroidery. You might sew a beloved ‘in-joke’, the date of your wedding or even your new name onto the back of your jacket. For a less conspicuous detail, hand-embroidered floral patterns could be a good choice. 

If you don’t quite know where to start, the running stitch is the easiest to master and it makes light work of borders and outlines. If you pencil your lines onto your denim, you can easily follow along. Complement this with our other tips for a quick makeover.

Additionally, iron-on appliqué patches offer a simple and speedy method to inject some individuality into your denim. Choose hearts, stars or flowers – whatever is unique and meaningful to you and your big day.

2. Temporary customisation

If you just want to add a temporary statement, adorn your jacket with enamel pins, buttons, and patches that have meaning to you and your partner – possible signifiers of milestones in your relationship –  so you can easily remove them if you want a more low-key look. For placement, the lapel on a denim jacket is the easiest place to start with a blank space that’s easy to style with enamel pins.

One or two will draw the eye, but don’t let contrast or clashes stop you from adding clusters or covering the whole of your jacket. Generally, having lots of clashing pins and patches will give you an edgier and personalised look, while a few choice selections will come off as more subtle.

3. Throwback vibes

The ‘70s were synonymous with fringe-trimmed denim, and for those with access to a sewing machine, you can easily capture the retro feel synonymous with the Groovy Nuptials bridal trend by adding this embellishment to a jacket – opt for tinsel fringing for those disco vibes.

To fringe your jacket, first identify the existing seams you want to apply fringe to. We’d recommend the seam running horizontally across the back and down the back of the arms for the most impact. Use a seam ripper to carefully open the side of the flat-felled seam that is closest to the edge, then slot in your fringing and pin into place.

Simply use a sewing machine to sew the seam closed, ideally where the original seam was and then swish around in your new, old denim jacket to your heart’s content.

4. Diamond-certified

Channel the glamour of disco with reflective elements like rhinestones, metallic discs, or sequins. Embrace your inner mirrorball by adorning your pockets, seams, and collars with country-style glitter.

If you want a temporary fix, non-permanent spray fabric adhesives make swapping details really easy while you try things out. For those who want to make their outfits dance-proof, there are a host of really durable fabric glues available to make sure those diamonds and discs stay put.

And always try to find an eco-friendly and biodegradable one to reduce any damage to the environment.

Check out Gap’s Denim Care Guide for keeping your favourite denim looking its best for longer.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break magazine. She studied English Literature at Fairfield University in Connecticut whilst taking evening classes in journalism at MediaBistro in NYC. She then pursued a BA degree in Public Relations at Bournemouth University in the UK. With a background working in the PR industry in Los Angeles, Barcelona and London, Charlotte then moved on to launching Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden and has been running the online magazine for the past 10 years. She is a mother, an avid reader, runner and puts a bit too much effort into perfecting her morning brew.