How to wear a leather jacket
Tuesday, 9 March 2021
By Paul Burden, Head of Design
So you’ve just blown three months’ savings on a real leather jacket. Now what? Don’t panic. You’ve made a good decision. Here’s how to style your leather jacket, and keep it looking schmick.
A real leather jacket is about the closest thing you can get to a fashion investment piece. Look after it, and it’ll look after you—winter after winter, year after year, compliment after compliment. A good leather jacket never really goes out of style. True, those big, shapeless ‘90s leather jackets that you see on Friends are pretty retro, but most jackets today are cut much slimmer, with a better silhouette.
And apart from anything else, they just feel good. Solid and heavy, with that classic, buttery, gotta-touch leather.
This is our ultimate guide to men’s leather jackets. We’re going to cover maintenance, finding the right fit, and some common style tips. Pop that collar and let’s get started.
What is a leather jacket?
There really is no one style of men’s leather jacket. You can buy leather trenchcoats, overcoats, bomber jackets, biker jackets, casual jackets and everything in-between. Some have stand collars, others come with nehru collars and big lapels. They’re usually made from traditional leather or suede.
Suede is a kind of leather, made from the underside of the animal skin, which gives it a soft, textured surface. Suede is usually made from lambskin. It’s a great option, but it’s not as thick or tough as full-grain, traditional leather. If you’re going the suede route, just be aware it’ll need some extra TLC.
The most common leather jacket colours are jet black or dark brown, but you do see tan leather jackets from time to time. The heavier styles, like the classic leather trench, are obviously better for winter, but most leather jackets will take you through the blustery months on either side. They’re a sharp option for Autumn and Spring.
Faux leather vs real leather jackets
Most of our tips here are going to be for real, 100% leather jackets. All POLITIX leather jackets are made from real leather or suede. Faux leather is basically synthetic, man-made leather. It’s derived from either polyurethane (“PU”) or polyvinyl chloride (AKA “Vinyl”). There are a few ways to tell if something is faux leather, but price is the obvious one: if the tag says $200 bucks—and you’re not standing in an op-shop—it’s probably a fake leather jacket. There’s nothing wrong with faux leather, of course, but it doesn’t have that same buttery leather feel. It won’t smell as good either, and it often gives off a plastic-like shine. Faux leather jackets also won’t last anywhere near as long as the real deal.
Fitting a leather jacket
There are a couple of ways you can go here. Most guys like their leather jackets well-fitted, with no extra fabric across the shoulders, and the sleeves ending at the wrist. There should be enough room to move, but the silhouette is pretty clean and tapered. The other option is to go slightly oversized—this is a good move for winter. Picking a jacket one size up gives you more room underneath for knits, shirts and layers. Style plays a part, too. As a general rule, we prefer well-fitted bomber jackets and slightly oversized biker jackets, but it’s totally up to you. Most leather jackets run upwards of $500, so unless you’re a Rockefeller, you’re probably only going to buy one. Find the fit that suits you best.
Protect the leather
Before you take your new leather jacket out for a spin, check the care label on the inside. You’re looking to see whether the jacket has already been treated to repel water. If it hasn’t, we strongly recommend picking up a stain and water repellent spray (just check the colour—some sprays are for black leather, others for brown). This will honestly extend the life of your leather jacket by years, especially if you’re planning to wear it through winter. Leather is a durable and hardwearing, but it needs love. Sun, rain, wind and grime—these are the leather jacket’s natural enemies. If you don’t know where to start, pick up a POLITIX leather care kit.
Are leather jackets warm?
Leather jackets are made for style and durability—not warmth. If it’s warmth you’re looking for, think wool-blend overcoats, chunky parkas and peacoats. But that doesn’t mean you have to ditch the leather when the weather gets cold. Just think in terms of layers. The beauty of leather is its soft, satin texture, so contrast this with some heavy knits underneath. This is where a slightly oversized leather jacket has the edge. We recommend three layers for most occasions: a black or white tee, a nice navy, burgundy or charcoal knit, and the leather jacket on top. Unless you live in the Arctic Circle, that’ll keep you plenty warm, and the clash of layers and textures creates some visual oomph. In the warmer months, ditch the jumpers and go for a simple pattern shirt instead.
Don’t forget your boots
Leather jackets love leather boots. They’re the fashion equivalent of peaches and cream. You can totally wear sneakers with your leather jacket, but it’s kind of like buying a classic Jaguar and then chucking on a subwoofer and underglow purple neon. When you’re picking your boots, think about colour and material. Black leather jackets need black leather boots, and same with brown and brown. This will give your outfit more of a cohesive vibe. Same goes for material: suede jackets work best with suede boots. They don’t have to be the exact colour and texture—in fact it’s probably better if they’re not. Think in terms of tones and textures, rather than an identical match.
Paul Burden, Head of Design
Paul Burden has an infinite wealth of knowledge in men’s style, having worked 30 years in the fashion industry. He’s tuned in and turned up to all the latest trends in Australia and around the world. Paul is our Jedi of men’s fashion and the Head of Design at POLITIX. He draws inspiration from movies and pop culture, always paying homage to classic menswear styling, and believes great style is being confident with what you wear.