Which style is for you?
Leather jackets have been around for a long time, and with time there are many different styles that have developed. While there are probably a dozen to talk about, today we will focus on the 4 most common styles found in Australia: the Brando/biker jacket, the cafe racer jacket, the bomber and the aviator.
The Brando/Biker Jacket
Known by a few names including the asymmetrical, the biker and the Brando jacket, this style was popularised by actor Marlon Brando in the 1950s when he wore a Schott Perfecto in the lead role of the film ‘The Wild One’. It is quite flashy; usually boasting a number of zips, studs and epaulettes. The main zip always runs up the chest diagonally, creating an asymmetrical look.
This style is usually either loved or hated. Personally I think you need to either be well built, confident, a motorcyclist or look like a movie star to really look at home in one of these. I am 3 out of those 4 things (we all wish we could be the 4th too), so I have a love for this style of jacket. I bought mine from a motorcycle store so for me it is a function piece that happens to look good as a fashion statement too.
It is important that you get a great fit if you buy one of these; a bulky, baggy biker jacket will stick out like a sore thumb. A good Brando jacket should be cut close to the body as its function intended it to be.
A word of warning: putting on one of these will not turn you into an instant badass/tough guy. Despite people who pull them off often appearing that way, if you are scruffy/considerably out of shape/wire thin, you will risk coming off as a try-hard. Go for something more versatile like a racer jacket.
The Cafe Racer
The racer jacket is a much more minimalist and streamlined approach to the leather jacket. A classic cafe racer jacket consists of a high, round collar with a straight zip running down the middle. The collar tends to have a fastening button, designed to keep the wind from going down your jacket when you are on a motorcycle. If there are any pockets, it is usually limited to one or two on the abdomen.
The racer jacket is incredibly versatile, as it works well in just about any setting. You can pair it with everything from a plain tee to a polo, or a button up shirt. I have even worn mine over a shirt+tie+jumper with pressed pants to the office.
This style of jacket also suits pretty much every man. Regardless of your build or whether you ride a motorcycle, this is a safe choice while also remaining stylish. As with the biker jacket, just make sure you have one that fits.
Related Reading: Deconstructing the Look: Vintage-inspired Smart Casual
These are just like regular bomber jackets, but made from leather. I have seen these in regular round-collar blouson construction, in addition to shirt collar style (Harrington) jacket construction.
I am personally not a huge fan of most leather bomber jackets as they tend to have elasticised bottom seams. I used to own one but never liked the way the elasticised bottom end of the jacket made the leather puff out, bringing a faux love handle appearance when zipped up. As a result, I did not wear it often. If you want a leather bomber, my advice is to find one with a no elastic.
Like the racer, these are a safe choice for most men. I find that they do not dress up as well as a racer style jacket, but this style has the added advantage of mixing well with streetwear looks (regular collar moreso compared to Harrington collar).
The aviator is a classic style that has had an audience ever since World War II airmen were issued with them. They are a great choice for winter thanks to the woolly lining, and a great choice for anyone who wants a bit more expressiveness or flamboyance from their outfit.
Aviators are a more casual style with modern takes on the aviator usually having a rather prominent collar. If you have the personality and/or confidence to rock one of these, it is a great addition to your wardrobe.
What about the other styles?
There are other styles out there, such as leather blazers, long coats and field jackets. I would not recommend buying a leather blazer or long coat; the blazers are out of vogue because they do not look so great, and leather long coats seem to be sported exclusively by Matrix Neo wannabes.
Field jackets on the other hand, can look great. Daniel Craig sported one in the film Defiance, and it would be great to see more of them around. If you would like to be part of that change, go for it!
That’s all for today!
A good leather jacket is a staple of every man’s wardrobe. With all the options available, there is something for everyone. See you next time!