Blue jeans are unquestionably America’s pants. And when it comes to outerwear, it doesn’t get much more ‘Merica than the denim jacket. (In a strange twist of geography, when you combine the two you end up with what’s known as a Canadian tuxedo.)

From its origins as a piece of functional workwear to becoming a staple of American male style in the middle of the 20th century to today, the jean jacket done right embodies cool.

It also happens to be one of the most practical pieces that a man can have in his closet, especially during spring. Here’s why:

1. It’s Not Too Hot
Even though spring has arrived, you can still easily end up in a Goldilocks situation where a puffy jacket is too warm and no jacket at all is too cold. A denim jacket, however, is just right.

2. It’s Very Cool
Every guy whose style you admire has worn a jean jacket at some point. It’s a lineage that stretches back from cool forefathers like Steve McQueen up to modern-day style heroes like David Beckham. By donning a denim jacket, you are keeping that tradition of cool alive.

3. It’s Versatile AF
A jean jacket is versatile not only in what you can wear it with but in what you can wear it to. It looks as great over a button down with a tie as it does over a plain white tee. That makes it the ideal layer to throw on if you have a date after work and don’t want to look like you’re just coming from work.

4. It’s A Creative Canvas
Because of the minimal design and the makeup of the fabric itself, denim jackets are ripe for embellishments. That can range from adding a subtle lapel pin on the collar or chest pocket to a scale rendering of Slayer’s pentagram logo with a Sharpie on the back. Those touches are what help this staple piece separate itself from the pack.

5. It Defies Categorization
Regardless of how you define your personal style—preppy, hip-hop, punk, workwear—a denim jacket fits in. There aren’t many other garments that can do that.

6. It Ages Gracefully
One of the great things about all denim is the way it breaks in. Those fades and creases are distinctly yours. You earned 'em. (Please go through the trouble. It’s worth it and looks so much better than something that’s been distressed by a machine). It’s true for jackets the same way as it is for jeans. A few years from now, your denim jacket will look completely different than it does when it’s brand new, and your connection to it will be better for it.

Now that we’ve convinced you of their necessity, here are five denim jackets worth adding to your wardrobe:

via H&M

via H&M

Part of H&M’s Modern Essentials collection that is curated by David Beckham, this coat blends elements of a traditional jean jacket with a chore coat.

via Levi

via Levi’s

For its Commuter line, Levi’s made its classic Trucker jacket more friendly for bike commuters by using a stronger, water repellant fabric and adding a stowable hood.
via Self Edge

via Self Edge

Japanese brand Sugar Cane has a keen eye for interpreting classic American denim. Typically the brand works in raw indigo denim, but created this raw black version for the boutique denim shop Self Edge.
via Levi

via Levi’s

A faithful recreation of the coat Levi’s made in 1967, this jacket is made in the U.S. using prized Cone Mills denim and has great vintage details like adjustable straps in the waistband.
via Acne Studios

via Acne Studios

The frayed band collar on this jacket gives it more of a punk edge. When combined with the premium denim that Acne Studios always uses, it creates a nice high-low mix.

Justin Tejada is a writer and editor based in New York City. Follow him on Twitter at @just_tejada.