Nothing is cooler than a trendy, hip, leather jacket. But aside from a major cool-factor, a leather jacket provides a durable, long-lasting, and protective outerwear option. Leather jackets are available in a number of styles and designs, each with their own benefits and purposes for ongoing wear.
Is it even possible to look any cooler than when you are wearing a leather jacket? Our scientific studies say no. But, leather jackets aren’t only fashionable, they are practical too. Leather is an all-natural material that is strong, durable, and warm. Are you thinking about adding a leather jacket to your wardrobe?
There are plenty of options and styles to pick from, so many, in fact, that your leather jacket options can be overwhelming. Below, we highlight a few of the most popular styles for leather jackets so you can learn what will work best for your needs and personal preference.
- History of Leather Jackets
- Types of Leather Jackets
History of Leather Jackets
Although leather has been around since the dawn of humankind, the sense of a leather jacket is a recent phenomenon. Originally worn by ancient societies and Native Americans, the leather jacket was practical, warm, and durable. Using all parts of the animal and its hide, leather apparel made sense to early civilizations.
A leather jacket’s real appeal was born in the 1900s, as many airmen were issued standard leather jackets for flight. The Germans issued the original leather jacket during WWI, but soon the Americans started to issue their own flight jackets and bomber jackets to their pilots and airmen.
During the World Wars, leather jackets shifted from a practical application to a fashionable endeavor. Jackets started to take on a new flair for style, and many people began wearing leather jackets as an emerging fashion trend. Between the 1920s and the 1940s, leather blazers were commonplace due to their style and their durability. Leather jackets had hit the marketplace and quickly secured their fashion footing.
Fast forward to the 1950s and 1960s, and soon leather jackets took off in a big way. With the increased popularity of motorcycles, leather jackets found a purpose and a function all their own. The leather was durable and strong, able to help protect people from the weather and possible falls.
Plus, nothing looked cooler than a person wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle. The 1950s and 1960s saw the leather biker jacket’s birth, with trend-setting moto jackets soon to follow.
As history progressed, the leather jacket remained a staple for people. With varying trends and a slight inclination to form over functionality, the leather jacket is fashionable, versatile, and long-lasting.
The durable leather makes this a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, and with traditional styles that have remained over time, it continues to be a popular investment. With modern technology and emerging new materials, it is now possible to even create faux leather. This allows people to still have a look and feel of leather without sacrificing an animal’s life just for fashion.
Types of Leather Jackets
The biker jacket is probably the most iconic leather jacket option. This jacket exudes style and has a definite “cool-factor.” A biker jacket can be worn by anyone, though, and you don’t even have to have a motorcycle. This jacket comes in many colors and feature options, which allows you to customize your leather biker jacket to your own tastes.
Leather is a strong and durable material. It is extremely thick and can take a beating. That is why the leather biker jacket ultimately serves a purpose, along with looking ultra-cool. The leather biker jacket was initially designed to help protect bikers from the elements and the occasional fall or accident.
The thick leather can resist rain and wind, keeping the rider warm and comfortable. Plus, if you accidentally fall off of your bike, the thick leather construction of the biker jacket will be enough to keep you at least mildly protected from possible scrapes and brush burns from the pavement.
This leather jacket is usually cut shorter in length, with the bottom of the jacket extended to the top of the hips or above. The jacket features a straight cut that is not form-fitting through the torso. Usually, this jacket has a big leather collar that breaks away and folds about halfway down the jacket, well below the collar bone.
These jackets are often adorned with additional features such as added pockets, zippers, snaps, and buckles. While some leather biker jackets have a purpose for these features, trendy biker leather jackets have these features to up the cool-factor.
Expect to find this jacket style in several different leather types, including cowhide and bison leather. Because these jackets are meant to protect the wearer from a potential biking accident, they are usually made of thicker and more firm leather options. These jackets come in several colors but usually are found in black leather. However, it is possible to find a biker leather jacket in brown, white, or red leather options.
Traditionally used by pilots, this take on an aviator jacket is practical, warm, and durable. The bomber jacket is a simple design, featuring strong and durable leather, which can be worn by either men or women.
Originating in the 1800s, this leather jacket style can be purchased as a vintage leather jacket or a brand new, trendy jacket. This jacket is perfect for all ages and can be a regular staple of your winter or fall wardrobe.
The shape of this leather bomber jacket is full through the body, tapered toward the waist. The jacket is usually rather simple, featuring one main zipper up the jacket’s center for closure. The collar on the bomber style jacket is traditional, with a normal shape and size, gently folding away at the collar bone.
While this jacket’s body is made of leather, it is quite common to see fabric added to the bottom of the sleeves and the bottom of the jacket. Coming to about the hips, this jacket features an elastic material that helps to keep the jacket close to the body. The elastic material is featured at the wrists and keeps the leather bomber jacket warm, preventing cold air and snow from traveling up the arm.
This jacket can come in several different leather options, and it is quite common to see this jacket in Nappa leather, goat leather, or lamb leather. The softer leather texture of these materials can give this coat a softer, smoother texture.
This is a great option for this jacket because of how the leather will pool around the body, with the tight-fitting waist. You can easily find this jacket in several different colors, including black, brown, white, red, or even navy.
Racer JacketThe racer leather jacket is a modern take on a biker jacket, offering the same lines and principles related to a traditional biker jacket. The difference is the racer jacket is commonly used for fashion, featuring more form over function. A racer jacket is a great addition to any wardrobe and is suitable for men and women of any age. The racer jacket is a modern fit, with custom features that have a certain European flair.
Similar to other biking jackets, the racer leather jacket is a modern take on a biker jacket. This jacket features straight, smooth lines. The jacket is shorter in length, hitting just to the top of the hips. The jacket is extremely straight-lined, falling in a straight path from the shoulders to the waist, without tapering or shaping. The waist and sleeves are left to hang without any additional cinching.
Unlike a biker jacket, though, the racer jacket does not have a folded collar with lapels. Instead, this jacket has a short and straight collar often buckled or snapped into place with a single snap. The racer jacket is straightforward and streamlined, featuring a straight zipper and minimal additional adornments or features. The only decorative elements on this jacket may feature some additional piping or stitching around the seams to add a bit of interest.
Because this type of jacket is not usually worn for performance, many wearers can get away wearing softer leather. It is possible to find this jacket style in soft lamb’s leather or Nappa leather, and sometimes this style of jacket is even made into a suede jacket. This jacket can come in many colors, including traditional brown and black and red, white, cream, or blue.
Because this jacket does not feature a traditional folded collar, this type of jacket works particularly well with an added hooded layer. Consider wearing this jacket over a hooded sweatshirt or sweater. This allows you to have rain and water protection, with the sleek and cool style a leather jacket can give.
The flight jacket is a take on the bomber jacket, adding enhancements an aviator may find useful. Although in circulation for years prior, this jacket was made popular by the United States Army in 1917. This was a common style jacket that was distributed to pilots for active duty. A century later, the flight jacket remains a popular and practical jacket option for men and women alike.
This jacket has an effortless shape that is smooth and practical. The jacket fits straight through the body and does not taper at the waist or the wrists. The jacket features a single zipper down the front of the jacket for closure and offers a larger than average collar and lapel.
Where this leather jacket really differs from the others is the addition of warm insulation on the interior. Many flight jackets are made with sheepskin, commonly found in shearling jacket options. This soft, thick, and insulation material works wonderfully well for keeping pilots warm. Plus, it is possible to bundle up tight with the big thick lapel and collar, keeping the warm sheepskin close to the body.
Although not with every flight jacket, many jackets feature this design style at the collar, across the jacket’s bottom, and around the wrists. Depending on the individual styles, the flight jacket may include additional pockets, patches, pulls, and stitching to increase this coat’s functionality.
This is a perfectly acceptable and warm coat for men and women of all ages. This is a coat that will regularly become a fall and winter staple in your wardrobe. Expect to find this coat in several different leather materials, ranging from thick and durable cowhide to soft and supple lambskin. The leather jacket comes in several different colors but is commonly found in the traditional dark brown leather jacket created by the US Army.
The moto jacket is a fun twist on the traditional motorcycle jacket. This jacket highlights more form than functionality, making this a highly styled and fun piece to add to any wardrobe. Easily found for men or women, this jacket fits close to the body and features some fun additions, majorly increasing one’s cool-factor when wearing this jacket.
A leather moto jacket was first intended for people to wear while riding their sports bikes. The leather was thick and durable, protecting people from weather, wind, and the potential crash. The thick leather could protect the wearer from possible scrapes and cuts, while additional padding and stitching within the jacket could help reinforce the protection. Many of these features are still stylized and included in the modern version of the moto jacket.
This jacket fits close to the body, forming the contours around the waist. The jacket usually comes to about the top of the hips. Expect the jacket to feature one main zipper on the front of the jacket, which is often offset to one side or another, adding to an interesting form factor. This jacket features large collars and lapels that fold over well below the collar bone.
One design feature that makes this jacket stand out from the others is the detailed stitching and leatherwork around the sleeves cuffs. Detailed stitching, increasing strength and durability, often extends upward to the elbow and sometimes even over the shoulders.
Because this jacket is largely about the form more than function these days, expect to find this jacket in several different leather materials, including buttery-soft materials that help the leather better form to the body’s curves.
This jacket will often feature several additional design features such as buckles, zippers, and pockets to enhance the style. This jacket can be found in all colors, including red, blue, white, tan, or a traditional black leather jacket option.
Leather BlazerFor a beautiful and finished look, the leather blazer is a wonderful addition to any wardrobe. This is perfect for fall and winter and can be worn under or over a traditional coat. The leather blazer is great for men and women and can add warmth or texture to your current wardrobe. The leather blazer is soft, protective, and will certainly turn heads. The leather blazer is one of the most popular women’s leather jackets and is a staple item for any wardrobe.
The exact cut of the leather blazer may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. While some leather coats will fit like a traditional blazer, hitting just around the mid-hip level, other leather blazer options may be cut longer or shorter depending on style.
These blazers feature a long style, moderately fitted to the body, with big, traditional lapels. The leather blazer usually features three to four buttons down the center to close the jacket and two functional pockets on either side of the jacket.
Because this jacket is often worn for fashion, expect to find it in the softest leather options. Commonly found in lambskin, this jacket can also be worn in goatskin leather or as a suede jacket. This jacket comes in several different colors, including brown, black, beige, white, or red.
The leather blazer sometimes has additional features making a unique look, including a fur collar, the fur around the cuffs, or even additional buckles, snaps, or zippers.
What makes this leather blazer so popular is the versatility surrounding the jacket. This can easily be worn as a stand-alone piece or can be worn underneath a traditional overcoat. Dress the leather blazer up with a collared shirt and tie, or keep it casual with a nice fitting sweater. The leather blazer is perfect with dress slacks or jeans and can be paired with beautiful leather ankle boots to complete the look.
Offering more coverage and a stunning look, a leather coat is a great way to introduce a warm, durable, and sleek-looking coat into your collection. Leather coats can come in several different lengths allowing you to choose a style and finish that is perfect for your needs. Long leather coats are ideal for men or women and can help keep you warm and protected from winter weather.
Many leather coat options will extend past the hips, with some leather coats reaching the knees or even the floor. These coats are usually rather form-fitting, tapering in at the waist. Depending on your preference, these coats are available with a traditional collar and lapel or a trendy and modern mock collar.
These long leather coats will usually feature a button closure down the center of the coat and have more buttons as the coat becomes longer. It is quite common to find these coats with additional pockets stitched into the sides.
Because this is a luxury coat, expect to find the coat made of buttery smooth leathers like lambskin or goatskin. This will make the leather feel extra soft and smooth, allowing it to drape over the body. The long leather coat comes in many colors, including brown, black, tan, light beige, and even white. To really make this look come to life, consider adding matching leather gloves in a similar style or complementary color.
Faux Leather Jacket
Leather is a natural material that comes from animal hide. It is usually made of cow or sheep hide through a tanning process. For many people, leather goods are not necessary, and they would prefer to use sustainable resources that do not come directly from an animal. Vegans and vegetarians often prefer to use a leather alternative or faux leather. This allows the same look and feel as leather without sacrificing an animal life for its production.
Many faux leather materials are made from a plastic base. This uses plastics combined with wax, polyurethane, and dye to create a material that mimics leather. Just like leather, many faux leather creations are durable, weatherproof, and warm. Plus, faux leather options are often much cheaper in price because the production process is much faster.
Like traditional leather jackets and coats, it is possible to get the same style and look from faux leather. There are plenty of faux leather options for traditional biker jackets, motorcycle jackets, varsity jacket options, or even field jacket options. Faux leather is versatile with limitless possibilities.
This means that you will be able to keep to your ideals and morals surrounding animal consumption while still getting the look, feel, and performance out of a stylish and super cool jacket.
Finding the right leather jacket can be tough, especially with how many options are available on the market. Picking leather is intimidating enough, but adding the complications of various styles and performance features can make the process downright overwhelming.
Below, let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions related to leather jackets. With the right amount of information and knowledge, we hope to help you navigate the ins and outs of leather jackets so that you can make an informed and wise purchase that suits all your needs.
What type of leather jacket is right for you?
When considering a leather jacket for your wardrobe, think about how you want to wear your coat and what feels most comfortable. Start with length. Do you want a short, cropped jacket, or something long? If you want a shorter jacket, consider the biker jacket, bomber jacket, or flight jacket style.
All of these options will hit just above or right to the hip. If you want something that is a little longer, consider purchasing a leather blazer or a leather coat. Both of these options typically extend past the hip or beyond and can give you more coverage.
Next, think about how you want to wear your coat and how warm you need your coat to be. If you want something to wear solely as an exterior jacket, consider an insulated biker jacket or warm flight jacket. The flight jacket often is paired with an insulation like soft sheepskin that can make these jackets extra warm.
Or, consider a bomber style jacket that is tight around the waist and wrists, preventing cold air and weather from entering your coat. If you intend on wearing a heavy overcoat overtop of your leather jacket, you may be alright choosing a leather blazer. Many of these are made of extremely light and thin material that allows you to layer your coats without looking too bulky.
Lastly, consider the overall look and style you like. Leather blazers and a bomber leather jacket option tend to be simpler, with smooth lines and limited adornment. Biker and moto jackets tend to be busier with added zippers, buckles, snaps, and studs to make the jacket appear busy. Really, additional decorations and features really come down to your personal preference.
What season do you wear leather jackets?
Leather jackets can really be worn in any season. In some locations, a traditional leather jacket may be too hot for the summer, but a cropped or light leather jacket may be just perfect for cool summer nights.
In other areas of the world, leather jackets are ideal for spring and summer, providing enough insulation and warmth to fight off a light chill. Still, some leather jackets, particularly ones with added insulation and warmth, make an ideal winter jacket, allowing you to wear the jacket through all temperatures and weather conditions.
Why choose a leather jacket?
Leather jackets have several practical benefits that continually make them a solid choice to add to your wardrobe. First and foremost, leather is a natural material with several desirable properties. Leather is thick and durable and can provide much-needed protection. Leather can help stop wind and weather and add a level of protection from punctures, tears, scrapes, and brush burns.
Plus, leather is extremely durable. The all-natural material has oils naturally occurring, which help to keep the material looking great for years. Many types of leather will maintain their softness and durability with just minimal upkeep. If you properly care for your leather jacket, it can easily last for 20 years or more.
Lastly, leather just looks great. It is a sleek style option that is versatile. Leather can come in several different textures and finishes and be dyed to just about any color. Plus, leather is easily decorated and adorned, making your leather style personal to your own tastes and preferences.
Should a leather jacket be tight or loose?
The fit of your leather jacket really comes down to the style of leather jacket your choose. Styles such as a moto jacket and a leather blazer tend to be more form-fitting. These jackets fit close to the body and tend to taper in toward the waist. These jackets are made for men or women and usually have a form-fitting style.
Other jackets, like a biker jacket or a flight jacket, tend to be loose-fitting. These jackets fit at the shoulders and extend straight down to the waist without much change or contour in the jacket. These jackets also have loose-fitting sleeves that do not get tighter around the wrists. These jackets are intended to have a little extra room to allow the person to move freely.
A combination of both a tight fit and a loose-fitting jacket is the bomber jacket. This jacket is often loose-fitting through the body but offers a tighter element around the waist and the wrists. Often, flexible material is used for the waist and wrists to allow the jacket to cinch inward. This helps keep cold air out of your jacket and make the jacket warmer in cold weather conditions.
How can you tell if a leather jacket is of good quality?
Leather comes in several different types, and the quality can vary quite drastically. Usually, the best way to determine the leather’s quality is to feel how soft the leather is. Leather jackets that are made with tighter leather grain tend to be of higher quality.
The tighter leather grain helps retain the softness and keeps valuable natural oils trapped within the leather. This will help to keep your leather looking and feeling great for years. Of course, any leather coat, regardless of quality, will require regular upkeep and maintenance.
Be sure to regularly clean and treat your leather coat with a leather conditioner to protect the finish and restore the softness. A leather conditioner can also help to prevent cracking and flaking by restoring the natural oils to the individual leather fibers. This allows the leather to move without internal friction, maintaining a soft and beautiful finish.