Made cool in the fifties by Brando, McQueen and James Dean, the leather jacket has since sustained a long lasting covenant with the modern man.
The timeless wardrobe piece has seen us through the proceeding decades effortlessly, with only a slight shoulder-pad and acid-wash glitch in the eighties. That said, the last ten years have been good to the leather jacket, smoothing any incongruous fit and colour issues.
Today men have a plethora of leather options to choose from via the most fashionable luxury brands. The last order of the call is simply showing you how to wear it properly. Leather up and learn.
Understanding The 'Leather' Basics
The key to buying a leather jacket is finding a type that already rides well with your personal style – don’t be somebody you’re not.
Then, nail the fit (think slim and flat to the body), before selecting the leather type (calf, cow, lamb or goat) and a neutral colour. A neutral colour ensures that it can be paired easier with your existing wardrobe like jeans.
Honing in on the finer details is the final step to personalisation; selecting how many zips, buttons and metal things you want – or none at all, is all part of the your personal taste.
If you’re new to leather jackets start with something clean and understated first and then move your way up as you get more comfortable with wearing them. The leather is your oyster.
Leather Jacket Styles
Leather jackets require confidence. Celebrities and rockstars wear them to stand-out and make a grungy style statement. That said, you can find a clean-cut, more demure type. Knowing your personal style is important, helping you decide what jacket style is most appropriate.
Leather jacket styles are defined by length, the way it closes or zips (and just how much hardware it boasts) and the collar. There are generally three types: the ‘bomber’, the ‘biker’ and the ‘racer’.
The bomber is the most casual looking. Recognised by its waist-length, the jacket is made from soft leather, which tends to be more malleable giving it a relaxed look.
The jacket has contrast trim (sometimes in contrast colour and fabric), which usually mixes up the waist and sleeve cuffs for a succinct fit.
Hardware in minimal, with solely asymmetrical zip up the front, with functional kangaroo-pouch side pockets – or without.
The biker (think Marlon Brando) boasts large lapels and a flared collar, that can be snapped down for extra security. Packed with metallic hardware (studs, plugs and zips), the front zipper is normally asymmetrical, allowing the wider side to fold in underneath its partner.
The racer is the most standard looking despite its motocross-look. They are streamlined jackets with a little collar that snaps shut, or can be without a collar at all.
Straight zipped, they aren’t lined with plush fabric and have no lapels or extra hardware to flash things up.
Leather Jacket Fit
The fit of the leather jacket – like a suit – is paramount. But unlike a bad fitting jacket or blazer, leather jackets can’t be altered easily and it’s expensive if you do.
So what should you look for exactly? The jacket should sit cling to the contours of your body, with shoulders cutting sharp and square on the shoulder – like a blazer.
A leather jacket isn’t really designed for wearing over bulk layers – more a fine-gauge sweater or tee – so buy the smallest size that fits, allowing for a bit of stretch to occur. Your arms should be able to move freely and not feel tight and uncomfortable. The length of the sleeves should skim the the wrist and hem bottom should cut at the belt line.
The skinny guy should opt for a tight or elasticated waistband, tapering the body section and accentuating the shoulders. The larger gent should go for a straight cut – avoiding anything that will cling to lumps and bumps. Same rule applies for muscles, gym junkie.
In summary, leather jackets are expensive – unless you’re more of a cheap guy, so play around with fit and brands. And try, before you buy.
Leather Jacket Colours
The timelessness of the leather jacket does depend on what colour you choose. Like suits, neutral colours such as black, brown, and grey are your best bet. Navy and contrast-sleeved biker types are more fashion-y and are a different option for guys who may already have a classic leather in their cupboard.
Fashion can also be played around a bit with suede as the coat tends to come in brown (from to tan to chocolate), meaning it can work as seamlessly into an outfit as black leather would.
Stick to one suede piece as break away from leather, opting for shearling on the collar for extra plushness. But avoid gimmicky tassels or fringing and anything that looks even remotely metro sexual cowboy – unless you have matching ass-less chaps.
Brands are ordered from cheapest to most expensive
Superdry is an exciting contemporary brand which focuses on high-quality products that fuse vintage Americana and Japanese-inspired graphics with a British style. Their leather jackets are the ultimate investment piece, combining top quality craftsmanship with supreme style and comfort.
Superdry jackets start from $349
There’s not too many leather jacket labels that come from places other than Paris, UK and the U.S, but Goosecraft is one of them. Hailing from the Netherlands, Goosecraft is a name that produces slim biker style leather jackets which come in a host of unique colours
Goosecraft jackets start from $400
Another leather name hailing from the U.S is Schott NYC – the first company to ever put a zipper on a jacket. Like Belstaff, their jackets are inspired by the motorcycling world and have graced the backs of people like Marlon Brando and rock bands alike.
Schott leather jackets start from $480
British fashion designer Paul Smith knows a thing or two about contemporary styling. Having been known for its eccentric styling since the 70s, Paul Smith today brings a touch of that repertoire to leather. Clean designs and cuts are the foundation but keep an eye on the detailing for an extra bit of ‘pop’.
Paul Smith leather jackets are priced from $990
Alexander McQueen is the self-named label that burst onto the British fashion scene in 1992. The founder might no longer be with us but his leather jackets certainly live on. Cut slim and with the aesthetic undertones of Brit rock, McQueen’s jackets often feature big collars, studs, zips and clashing textures.
Alexander McQueen leather is priced from $3,500
If you want a statement then Gucci is your leather jacket answer. The luxury Italian label has built a reputation for bringing loud designs to the forefront of luxury fashion. Whether it’s bright colours, big motifs or daring textures, Gucci will go there. Their leather jackets are naturally made for those who aren’t fans of conforming.
Gucci leather is priced from $3,500
Saint Laurent is the quintessential name for those looking for a fine touch of French luxury. The name has a lengthy history of producing leather goods and this shows in their leather jackets which showcase sharp cuts and even sharper detailing without going full rock star. It’s suitable for those who like a bit of edge to their minimalism.