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 specific variant that gels well with your personal style, read: don’t be somebody you’re not.
Once you’ve decided on the style that works best for you, it’s time to nail the fit. You don’t want to wear anything too boxy, we’re not in the 80s anymore, after all. Instead, think slim and flat to the body. The fit will vary from brand to brand, as each will have their own particular direction they want to head in, and if you can pull off the slightly more outlandish styles, then great. The slim fit is, however, the safest option.
With fit taken care of, you’ll want to consider the type of leather you want hugging your body. Your options include calf, cow, lamb or goat, and all should be available in neutral colours. A neutral colour ensures that it can be paired much easier with your existing wardrobe staples such as white t-shirts and jeans.
But wait, you’re not done yet. There are yet finer details you can hone in on to make your leather jacket purchase all the more personal to you and your specific style; you’ll want to consider how many zips, buttons and any other detailing you want your jacket to sport. You can, of course, opt for a jacket with none of the above, and these clean, minimal looks work great for evening wear.
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 is minimal, with a single asymmetrical zip up the front, and while most should come with functional side pockets (and perhaps an internal pocket), some will omit them for a much cleaner silhouette.
The leather biker jacket (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.
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 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 wrist and the hem should finish at the beltline.
Skinny guys should opt for a tight or elasticated waistband, tapering the body section and accentuating the shoulders. Guys on the larger side should go for a straight cut, avoiding anything that will cling to lumps and bumps. The same rule applies to muscular gym junkies.
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-orientated and offer a refreshing option for guys who may already have a classic leather in their cupboard.
Of course, you don’t have to settle for the traditional shiny leather for your jacket. Suede fabrics work just as well and bring with them new colour options such as tan and brown, as well as occasionally sporting shearling collars for extra warmth and comfort. Just be sure to steer clear of any tassels and you’ll be just fine.
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