Putting on a leather jacket can either be the next best, or worst, 8 hours of your life. We all wished we looked like Marlon Brando at some point. If not, then perhaps you fantasized about looking as cool as Tom Cruise or John Travolta. Point is, we’ve always imagined ourselves putting on a leather jacket and impressing the ladies.
And why not? A black leather jacket is arguably one of the coolest things a guy can wear. Now, we understand that no one is as fashionable as Danny Zuko from Grease, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking your best!
The leather jacket is surprisingly versatile, contrary to popular belief, and can be worn with a lot of different things. Here’s the ultimate guide to leather jacket outfits & styles for men.
Leather Jackets: A Quick History Lesson
Before we pair you with some black jeans, a white undershirt, and some Converse shoes, let’s go over some trivia. Leather jackets were first worn back in WW1 for pilots who had to withstand cold temperatures in high altitudes. Around the 1920s, decades after WW1, the first commercial leather jackets were made for Harley Davidson.
Although leather jackets were simply stylish and warm pieces of clothing at first, the bad-boy persona didn’t come until much later. In the 1950s, Marlon Brando wore the first Hollywood portrayal of the leather jacket in the classic film ‘The Wild One’.
Brando was a Triumph 6T Thunderbird-riding sexy gang member in the movie. At the time, the Triumph was among the fanciest motorcycles, which supplemented the leather jacket with the bad-boy aesthetic.
Remember those pilots and aviators from WW1? Well, they used their jackets for windy motorcycle rides too! Quite unironically, World War veterans invented the ‘bad-boy with a leather jacket and motorcycle’ vibe just by wearing leftover apparel from the war.
Buying Your First Leather Jacket
The Different Types Of Leather
Now, we don’t expect you to be a leather jacket historian, but it’s definitely one of our goals to make you a beginner connoisseur. The average person may not understand the differences in leather, but you should.
Leather can come in about eight or more types, but we’ll only focus on the four major ones today:
- Full Grain. Arguably the most expensive one on this list. Full-grain leather comes from the top layer of the hide, meaning it comes with all the natural grain from the skin. The natural grain has imperfections like bites, scratches, and other blemishes that are not removed through sanding. This is the strongest type of leather.
- Top Leather. The grade below, top leather is everything that full-grain has, but blemishes on the skin are sanded off. This way, the leather looks cleaner but is not as strong.
- Genuine Leather. Often synonymous with Suede, genuine leather is third-grade and comes right after top leather. Leather that is sanded to this extent looks much cleaner and is usually easier to maintain.
- Bonded. The last and cheapest, bonded leather is made from leather scraps that are glued together. Manufacturers are not required to disclose the percentage of leather used, but this results in the lowest quality leather.
That should be all that you need to get started on your leather-wearing journey. Now, keep in mind that the type of leather you wear is generally not noticed by a lot of people. Rarely will you come across someone with the technical knowledge for bonded, genuine, top, or full-grain leather.
While that may be the case, being your own critic can help you feel good about what you’re wearing and double-check the kind of leather you’re buying. Going full-grain might be an expensive choice, but it’s the best out of your buck for frequent wear.
If you’re in this to be stylish every so often, then we’d probably recommend getting a genuine leather jacket instead. This won’t look as vintage or aged, but it does wonders when used correctly.
What Type Of Leather Should You Buy?
At the end of the day, wear what suits you best and let it match with your outfit. However, as the devil’s advocate, you’re probably going to have only one leather jacket in your closet. With that in mind, investing in a good branded jacket might be worth the extra $$$.
Finding The Right Fit
Like most—if not all—jackets, finding the right fit is the most important step when getting into this type of fashion. While you might be able to get away with an oversized hoodie, or perhaps an overly cozy denim overall, this simply doesn’t apply to leather jackets.
First off, a leather jacket will keep you warm better than most thicker jackets, which is an unintentional red flag. Buying a really fit leather jacket will keep you sweating even in the coldest of rooms, so give yourself an inch or two of breathing space when sizing yourself.
Any more than one to two inches and you’ll find yourself cozy enough to hide a pillow in your sleeves. Best not to look too stuffy when wearing a leather jacket. The right fit will allow you to move your arms easily and your jacket should end around your hips.
There’s no shame in buying a vintage or thrift leather jacket. In fact, it’s a great way to get a lot of value for your money. Leather jackets are made from durable and stubborn animal hide and one of the best tests for quality is time.
However, as a cautionary tale, always make sure to shop for second-hand leather jackets in person. The quality and smell of the jacket are very important and there’s no alternative for this online.
Remember, leather is quite literally animal skin, which is completely different from any other type of inorganic material that you’re probably used to. You’ll have to do some further research on your own regarding the methods of cleaning a leather jacket once you’ve bought one.
Although for general cleaning tips, we will be providing an introductory lesson below to let you understand and prepare for the responsibilities of having a leather jacket. While this might seem intimidating, don’t let that stop you! Leather jackets are incredibly fashionable and worth all the meticulous details to keep it in its best condition.
Finally, with that out of the way, it’s time to get you dressed and fashionable.
Leather Jacket Outfits & Styles for Men
Classic Brown Leather Jacket
Though the black leather jacket might arguably be the most famous type of leather sleeve, you can start your day casual with the classic brown. The brown tone coupled with a white undershirt can do a lot for your outfit!
Wearing a brown leather jacket is a great way to come off as chill and calm. The friendly vibe that’s generally associated with this outfit makes it a perfect go-to for casual dates or hanging out with friends in the countryside.
Additionally, brown works best for bright summer days to match the earthy tone. Keep people guessing by switching out a white undershirt with a black one, just to simulate a little bit of that bad boy vibe. Pair either shirt with some dark blue jeans, similarly brown Chelsea boots and you’re good to go.
For this entry, getting a brown leather jacket with a clean finish is usually the best material for summer or spring-wear. Contrarily, for the cold winter -ber months, investing in a more expensive full-grain jacket can make the natural patterns on your jacket contrast beautifully with the snow.
Now, who’s to say that leather doesn’t work well in corporate environments? You can rock the leather jacket with a smart casual outfit too! Wear this over a black turtleneck or a dark blue polo with white buttons, and slide into your office.
The black turtleneck is iconic and classy, a great way to bring finesse into your outfit. With an attire like this, you might want to stick to genuine or top leather for a much cleaner corporate look. If price tags are a major social factor in your workplace, there are a lot of pricey yet clean leather jackets on the market.
Generally lighter colors match brown leather jackets better, while darker colors will match black leather jackets. However, feel free to experiment! You can never go wrong with a white undershirt and a layer of black leather.
Remember to be smart with what you wear for this, it’s easy to get carried away with a smart casual look. Best stick to a plain undershirt, dark jeans, and some classy brown leather shoes. If you’re willing to go the extra step, a small duffel bag can complete your look.
Bad Boy Black Leather Jacket
While you might feel intimidated by this, it is true that wearing a black leather jacket can be hard to get right. However, once you understand the dynamic behind this iconic apparel, you’ll be able to wear this with a variety of charms.
The biggest misconception that usually comes with a black leather jacket is that you should be cool when you wear one. Yes, you may look cool, but ignoring the ladies or acting like a quiet douche will get you nowhere!
There’s a boyish charm that comes with the black jacket and you shouldn’t be afraid to let that out. More often than not, what brings an aesthetic to life is the personality behind the style. Don’t take yourself too seriously with this, and always remember to laugh and join in on the fun.
You can go all-in and pair the black leather jacket with a band shirt, some black jeans, and a pair of dark Timberlands or Dr. Martens. While you can try mixing a black leather jacket with other colors, it’s hard to go wrong with wearing an entirely dark outfit.
Full Grain Leather
Though we’ve covered this already in the opening topics, full-grain leather has a special place in the hearts of connoisseurs. Finding a full-grain leather jacket that isn’t full of blemishes, wounds, scars, or any other defects is a chef’s kiss moment.
It’s rare to find such valuable leather, and with the right crowd, you’ll easily see why it’s coveted. Full-grain leather jackets are a great way to let someone know that you have expensive taste, while not being completely obvious about it, unlike Supreme products.
The texture and visual appeal of the jacket can go a long way for any kind of use. Full-grain is country, vintage, and ageless, lasting you till your kids take over your wardrobe. A properly maintained full-grain jacket appreciates over time and ages like fine wine.
With jackets like this, you don’t need to put too much thought into your outfit. A white shirt brings out the texture of full-grain leather the best during summer. Whereas for winter, you can stick to a thick undershirt, or perhaps a turtleneck, to keep yourself warm and stylish.
Now this goes without saying, but it’s generally better to wear a biker jacket when you own a motorcycle. But then again, who cares? The Biker jacket is an extremely stylish look that peaks the bad-boy leather jacket aesthetic.
You’ll easily differentiate a biker jacket from a normal black leather jacket by the number of buttons, zippers, and length of the folds around the chest area. The biker jacket is easily recognizable due to the obvious presence of metal on the overall.
It might seem tacky, but the buttons accent and add a lot of personality to the jacket. Ideally, you should pair this with a black old-school band shirt, similarly colored slim-fit pants, and some black high-cut boots. Chelsea’s would be the perfect boot for this look, but feel free to experiment.
Keep yourself hip by buying a genuine or bonded leather jacket, so the grain of the leather doesn’t clash with the aesthetic of the metal. Additionally, find the jacket that fits you just right, black is a slimming color so it’s best to find a size that hugs you comfortably.
Flying back in time, flight jackets are an incredibly sexy and stylish alternative to thick cotton coats in the winter. Whenever appropriate, we’d recommend that you rock a flight jacket instead of the usual winter coats. Keep yourself warm while turning heads.
Additionally, leather jackets are much more durable than most clothing material! Which makes it the perfect jacket for outdoor winter activities like sledding. Heck, feel free to chop a log for firewood while you’re at it.
A more modern change to the flight jacket is the popular bomber jacket. Leather layers with a hint of thick cloth around your neck make it comfortable and warm. You can follow the trend of wearing a brown bomber jacket with a white undershirt, light blue jeans, and some white sneakers or experiment with similar colors.
The Head Turner
Finally, before we end our list and teach you how to take care of your leather jackets, we’d like to mention a special addition to this list. Although it’s 2020, it’s impolite to assume that you’ve never seen a neon green or pink cow before, but we haven’t!
Luckily, synthetic and artificial leather has come a long way and is oftentimes indistinguishable from real leather by inexperienced eyes. With this, leather jackets of all colors have been in the market for quite a while now.
While we may not recommend getting one, since it’s genuinely hard to pair a neon jacket with anything else that isn’t neon, we can’t say that it’s a bad purchase. Fashion always evolves and people have only been getting more and more creative through platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.
A pink leather jacket will definitely turn heads your way, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing? You could very well unironically rock a pink leather jacket and leave impressions everywhere you go. Being different just means you’re unique.
Maintenance And Aftercare
Leather Is Organic Material
The biggest underrated factor when sporting leather goods is the aftercare and maintenance. Nearly everyone is ignorant of how to care for leather goods. Keep in mind, that unlike most fabrics, you can’t just wash or launder a leather jacket.
Leather is first and foremost animal skin, which is very different from other inorganic raw materials like cotton. Now, this isn’t to say that you’ll be oiling your jacket every week, but don’t be surprised if you’ll have to take it out in a year to inspect the material for signs of deterioration.
Of course, the longevity and durability of your jacket will depend on the quality of the material used as leather for your jacket. However, in spite of that, any kind of durable material can still have a hard time under the wrong conditions.
Quite ironically, getting your leather jacket wet will dry the material and make it stiff, hard, and brittle. This will probably make you squirm, but just like our skin, leather stores little molecules of oil to give it that supple, shiny, and soft texture.
Although leather is water-resistant to an extent, prolonged exposure to the elements can cause the oil in the leather to bind and roll off with the water, thereby drying the material. If any of your leathered apparel—aside from the jacket—is ever wet, try to dry it with a towel or out in the sun.
Oil And A Rag
Good genuine quality leather can last you years before you notice the wear and tear. Despite that, try not to wait too long before you oil and grease your jacket. Luckily, there are a lot of cheap and easy ways to clean and maintain your leather sleeve.
Generally, try to avoid fancy chemicals or cleaning kits, since cheap USD$5-10 dollar oils can go a long way to reinvigorate your jacket on its own. Just dab some oil on your jacket and spread it all over with a rag to evenly distribute the oil.
Your jacket should absorb this in minutes, any excess oil that isn’t absorbed can be either wiped off or swiped and moved to another part of the jacket.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Leather Jacket Fashion
How do you style a leather jacket for men?
First figure out the vibe you’re trying to portray. Leather jackets are surprisingly versatile, and as a pro tip: try not to take yourself too seriously. Even if you look cool, with a white undershirt, classic brown leather jacket, light blue jeans, and a pair of Timberlands, being your genuine self is still the best thing you can wear.
Are leather jackets attractive on guys?
Only if your name is Marlon Brando and it’s 1953. Just kidding, yes it is! Leather jackets are incredibly attractive and sexy for the ladies, or boys (It is 2020). There’s something rough and dangerous about a guy wearing a leather jacket. We don’t know if it’s the natural boyish charm and affiliation of outdoor adventures, or if leather is inherently a sensual material.
How should a man wear a brown leather jacket?
He should wear it with a plain undershirt, dark slim-fit pants, and a brown pair of Chelsea’s. You can never go wrong with a basic yet classy outfit like that. Additionally, try to make sure that the brown leather jacket fits well enough to not feel constraining or hot.
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A Final Word From the Trending Man
Wearing a leather jacket can be incredibly intimidating, and if you didn’t know about the special maintenance that comes with the material, you might feel discouraged. However, there’s nothing like a good leather jacket and five years down the road of consistent wear.
Leather jackets age like wine and taking care of one just to see the benefits years later is a feeling you can’t replicate with any other material. Regardless, you should probably just stick with one or two leather jackets since there’s only so much love a man can give before his wife gets suspicious.