Leather Jacket Style Guide

No single item of clothing screams “badass” like a leather jacket. For decades, these jackets have been a staple piece for every larger-than-life-baddass you can think of. Because of their very nature, leather jackets are not an accessory, they are a statement or a lifestyle piece. An entire outfit can be built around a single statement piece like a leather jacket, even whole wardrobes. Women will love you. Men will want to be you. Okay, maybe not- but you get the idea.

For that reason, never skimp on your leather jacket purchase. Look around. Take your time. Make your decision wisely because this is an investment. Be prepared to spend no less than $400 on good leather. I would generally avoid budget leather because they use cheaper leather which will not last as long and they usually do not have a fitted cut. If you really need to pick something up something in a lower price range, it’s a much better idea to look for used or vintage items on ebay or buy/sell forums. This is definitely one of those places where the rule should be “don’t buy something similar to the thing you want. Buy the thing you want.”

Every leather company always makes jackets in a few different styles. If you find that you like the quality of one company but want a specific cut, I would suggest looking around their products because you’ll invariable find that style of jacket in their list of offerings. If not, you could even hold off because they might just make it next season. The 3 major styles you’ll see most often are Bomber, Double Rider, and Moto. More details are below, but as you get to know each style, you’ll find a lot of the other weird cuts are just variations of these 3 styles.

  • Bomber (aka Flight Jacket, aka MA-1) – One of the most popular and versatile styles of leather jackets. Because they were originally developed for pilots sitting in unenclosed cockpits, they are designed with warmth in mind and are characterized by elastic/ribbed cuffs and elastic waist and will frequently have fur lining and/or a fur collar. They can be worn casually or dressed up over business casual attire equally well. Definitely a good versatile addition to anyone’s wardrobe.
  • Double Rider (aka Perfecto) – The original first leather motorcycle jacket developed by Schott NYC and introduced in 1928. This is the jacket that was worn by Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, The Ramones, punk rockers, and greasers, and all around badasses since their introduction. This jacket has become synonymous with rebellion and is not to be taken lightly. It was made for motorcycle riders so it was meant to be functional. This jacket has a very distinct look because of it’s asymmetrical front zipper and large snap lapels. Usually meant to be worn casually, but can be added over a button up and tie for an edgier look. So the next question you should ask yourself is…..Are you man enough to rock the DR?
  • Moto (aka Cafe Racer) - The deconstructed minimalist motorcycle jacket. It is a smaller simpler version of a Double Rider Motocycle jacket that is a little slimmer and will not include the extra flaps, epaulets, and belts found on the rider. This jacket usually has a little more sleek modern look to it. Unlike the double rider, this jacket does not have an asymmetrical zipper and will usually have a small snap collar instead of the large fold-over ones. Some “collared moto” styles will add a small collar while still keeping the minimalist design. Because of the minimalist design this jacket has a less “edgy” look and is a lot more versatile. This jacket can be a great addition to any street casual style or even equally great with a business casual look.
  • Peacoat Just like they sound. A peacoat style jacket but in leather. I would stay away from these because the traditional peacoat is a wool jacket (sometimes with leather trim) and these leather versions are not as versatile as the wool. They were popular a few years back and are generally aimed at a little dressier look and would not work as well with a completely casual outfit. Still acceptable if you have your heart set on one but a nice wool peacoat may serve you better in the long run.
  • Fencing Jacket An aggressively cut jacket designed similarly after fencing jackets. Usually only reserved goth ninja styles and will definitely not be as versatile as the jackets above.
  • Varsity and Baseball These are casual jackets that can have either leather only sleeves or be all leather. Because the all leather versions are generally made in suede these are a lot less expensive than many of the jackets above and can be a great addition to a casual wardrobe for a street inspired style.
  • Trench Coat Just like it sounds. A trench coat made of leather that will be long and used as an overcoat. CAUTION: Unless you really know what you’re doing and are going for a Goth Ninja look, I would avoid these at all costs. Society currently frowns on these since they hold connotations of nerds who think they are in the Matrix and American kids that shoot up schools.