The History of the Eisenhower Jacket

ORIGINS SERIES  | 20.11.2020

You can’t deny that in the last few years workwear jackets have become fashionable, as youth cultures worldwide adopt them for their practical function and iconic look. But arguably none of them are as iconic as Dickies’ Eisenhower jacket. Its silhouette has been a firm favorite for over half a century, but where did it come from and how has it ingrained itself in cultures the world over?

The origins of the Eisenhower Jacket 

It all started in 1922 when the Dickies brand was established as a bib overalls manufacturer. As America grew so did the demand for hardwearing and functional garments, which spurred on the creation of our first work jackets.

The Eisenhower Silhouette is traced back to World War II. It’s named after General Dwight D. Eisenhower who famously gave the US World War II army uniform a much-needed functional makeover. He believed that the preexisting garments were unsuitable for combat. His key sartorial legacy came in the form of the “Eisenhower Jacket” or “Ike Jacket”, which was a light, unlined jacket that was practically designed to deal with the hardwearing nature of the job, without compromising on smartness. Eisenhower himself went on to bigger things, becoming US president in 1953 and serving until 1961, his popularity with the public was no doubt a vital driver of the jacket’s success. 

We drew inspiration from the silhouette when creating some of our first work jackets in the mid-20th century. Since then, the Dickies brand has expanded globally and has been adopted by countless cultures and subcultures. Despite this growth, we have ensured that our current Eisenhower Jacket is as Dwight D. Eisenhower intended it to be, versatile, rugged and smart. It has a stylishly minimal silhouette that is cut at the waist and features a tasteful gold colored zip and practical pencil pocket on the left arm. Available in both unlined and lined options. 

Dickies’ workforce donning one of the earlier work jacket styles.

 

The Eisenhower Jacket’s rise to fame 

 Over the years the jacket has become an integral part of the uniform for many subcultures, going on to weave its way into the fabric of mainstream fashion. Everyone from skaters to jewelers, musicians to brewers and blue-collar workers to fashion icons want a bit of the action. Even Brooklyn Beckham and Kanye West have been known to don one

Timeless Styling for Work and Fashion, the Eisenhower here being worn by Reino Lehtonen-Riley at the Great Frog London

 

Although there’s many other examples of our Eisenhower jacket popping up in contemporary popular culture, the one that we hear about the most is Kanye causing a stir at the 2019 Met Gala. We all know Mr West isn’t scared of a bit of controversy. Still, no one expected him to turn up to what is widely regarded as the celebrity event of the year, where opulent and outrageous outfits are celebrated, in a Dickies Eisenhower jacket. Kim Kardashian West reportedly told Vogue that Kanye chose the jacket, so he didn’t encroach on her limelight, it, of course, did the opposite: Twitter went into a meltdown, and the world’s press churned out article after article.

 

How to style the Eisenhower Jacket 

 It’s easy to see how the Eisenhower has gained its success. Versatile and hardwearing, its minimal design can be dressed up and down to fit the occasion. It’s as comfortable in the skatepark as the boardroom, why buy three jackets when you can buy one? 

Interestingly the pared-down design has lent it to being customized, the custom options are endless, with a bit of creativity you can create an original jacket that still retains an iconic look. Head over to our Instagram for inspiration, where you will see custom Eisenhower jackets from a few of our makers who created them as part of our United by Dickies campaign.

 

The Eisenhower Jacket is also perfect for making shorter people look taller; this is because longer fitting coats can make you appear shorter than you really are. 

It’s also a layering hero, the unlined Eisenhower can be worn as both an under and overlayer during the colder months, layer on top of a San Antonio hoodie or Sacramento Shirt for a relaxed look. Alternatively, it can go under a longer cut wool coat for a smarter fit. If you’re averse to a bit of layering, fear not, we have the lined Eisenhower providing a quilted lining to keep you toasty. 

Amy Freeman layering up her Eisenhower Jacket with the Sacramento Shirt.

 

Dickies’ Eisenhower Jacket: the only jacket you’ll ever need!

If you’re looking for a hardwearing and hardworking versatile jacket that has an authentic workwear heritage and contemporary on-trend cultural relevance, then look no further than Dickies’ Eisenhower Jacket. Its iconic look has been a hit for well over half a century, appreciated by everyone from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Kanye West. 

The Eisenhower jacket can be worn casual or smart as seen here on Kem Mehmet

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