It’s an attitude.
A badass one.
It has been said to be a woman’s kryptonite.
In an unforgettable movie role, Marlon Brando slouched over his motorcycle in The Wild One and captured the admiration of audiences.
His charisma in the movie led to the magnetic image associated with motorcycle leather jackets.
It whispered the mentality of tough-guy.
A garment that has over the decades become the timeless symbol of the desirable badass.
Men who spend exorbitant prices for a quality leather jacket are less concerned about protection from the elements.
Their primary concern?
Getting the girl 😉
Unfortunately, for most men, it takes more than just a jacket in leather to project the cool, tough guy image.
How do you look like a badass in a leather jacket?
A quality leather jacket is a one-time investment. It doesn’t matter how much you splurge on the jacket if the fit is poor.
A good fit should facilitate ease of movement. It should feel and function like a second skin, fitting your frame. While wearing a well-fitted jacket, keep your inner wear to a minimum, as the leather should sit close to the body.
The biggest problem with buying retail jackets is that they are generally made to fit as many different body types as possible. A leather jacket that looks great in a picture could end up looking big and boxy on you. You don’t want to look like you borrowed the jacket.
- Shoulders: A jacket with a shoulder length that is too small for you will restrict movement and make you look too compact. Shoulders that are too big for you will create an uneven looking upper body silhouette. Ensure that the shoulder length is just right on you.
- Sleeve Length: A leather motorcycle jacket needs to have longer sleeve lengths than a regular sport or suit coat. These jackets are functional – the shoulders shouldn’t feel tight when you stretch to reach the handlebars of a bike. Longer sleeves also protect your wrist and keep your forearms warm.
- Arm Holes: Good quality leather jackets have high-cut armholes. There should be plenty of room to move your arms freely without extra bits of fabric hanging loosely at the armpit. The sleeves, meanwhile, should come down no longer than the wrists,
- Jacket Length: Leather jackets are worn short. They look more modern that way. Slimmer cut jackets are made to sit higher. Never go for a length that touches the middle of your trouser pockets. The jacket should sit at the waist except for trench and fatigue jackets. Tuck your shirts into your trousers to prevent them from protruding past the bottom of the jacket.
- Collars & Pocket: The pockets and collars should lie flat on your chest when you try it on.
Avoid boxy cuts and avoid a too-snug fit for two reasons:
- You’ll rarely wear it because the jacket will feel uncomfortable.
- Since the jacket is going to last for years, it needs to accommodate the changes your body is likely to undergo.
Once ready, a leather jacket is incredibly difficult to alter, so ensure you get a good fit right at the start. Try before you buy and don’t order online unless the brand allows returns and exchanges.
The skin used in the construction of the jacket makes all the difference between a leather jacket you simply own and one that you would sleep in. The texture of leather varies from the buttery soft and thin lambskin to durable and thick horsehide.
The Skin Used For The Jacket
- Horsehide: The toughest skin used for leather jackets, horsehide takes some breaking in.
- Cowhide: Tough leather that takes a long time to wear in. Suitable for motorcycle leather jackets that are worn primarily as a protective coat.
- Calfskin: Softer than cowhide, calfskin feels like it’s broken in from the first wear.
- Goatskin: Supple and durable, it is also highly water repellant.
- Sheepskin: Flexible leather that is lighter than goat or cowhide, but not as tough.
- Lambskin: Incredibly delicate and light, the soft fibers of lambskin absorb extra perspiration and keep the wearer cool.
The Type Of Leather
- Full Grain: The original state of the skin, with blemishes and all the layers. These are the best quality hides and the value of a full grain leather is reflected in the high cost of the jacket. Motorcycle jackets that are functional and used for protection are made of full grain leather.
- Top Grain: The upper or outer layer of the skin. The bottom layers are shaved to create a thinner material that is more flexible and pliable in terms of creating better-fitted fashion jackets.
- Split Grain: The bottom layer of the skin once the top-grain is removed. The shaved part of the leather skin resembles the outer layer of deerskin. Split grain leather are useful for making suede jacket.
- Corrected Grain: Lower end of the spectrum leather hide, it’s uncommon to find a leather jacket made from these skins that are decorated with artificial patterns.
Tanning & Finish
Chrome and vegetable tanning are the two methods generally used in the finishing process to make the leather ready to wear. Chrome tanning uses chromium sulphate to produce a uniformly colored soft leather as is the case with Nappa leather. The process is quick but has a negative impact on the environment.
The practice of vegetable tanning uses plant matter and wood bark. A more expensive option, this is the finish used for that good quality jackets. The process is much slower process but results in natural looking hues and is better for the environment.
Pay attention to the hardware details – zips, buckles, buttons – which can wear out easily and prove expensive to replace. RiRi zippers are the highest quality while YKK is the standard choice.
Lining & Stitching
Yes, what’s on the inside counts. A rip in the lining is not a minor repair job. If a jacket is lined with a flimsy lining, chances are the leather is also cheap. The seams should be strong and the bottom hem should be straight. Check the lining in the pockets (which are most susceptible to wear and tear).
Inspect the stitching on both the inner and outer seams. A dense, close and even stitch with a polyester thread is a sign of good quality. There should be no loose ends or potential for the thread to come undone in the future.
#3 Leather Jacket Criteria – Function
Warmth. Protection. Fashion.
What are the different criteria for a leather jacket in a chilly climate like Wisconsin as opposed to balmy Texas? The difference lies in the lining. A woolen lining (as in a bomber jacket) with a thick cowhide is better suited for cold climates. A light polyester lining with a thinner skin such as lambskin is preferable for warmer climates.
A leather jacket can be the toughest item of clothing in your wardrobe.
For uncompromising protection, go with a thick leather that’s 1.1mm to 1.3mm thick. When you hold the jacket in your hand, it should feel heavy. When the temperature drops – a leather jacket is a perfect layering piece. It can be worn in fall, mild winter and in spring.
These jackets are purely created for aesthetic purposes. Leather blazers, for instance, mimic the formality of a sports coat while keeping the ruggedness of leather.
#4 Leather Jacket Criteria – Style
Leather jackets never seem to go out of style. Since the ’40s, each decade has witnessed a rebellious upsurge in the popularity of this coat. For men – a stylish jacket is a great way to express their personal style.
How do you figure out which style of jacket will look good on you?
This classic American icon first introduced by Irving Schott was made famous by Marlon Brando in The Wild One.
With asymmetrical fastenings and a diagonal zip, the jacket is characterized by a flared collar and large, spreading lapels with metal snaps to block out the wind.
You don’t have to be a Wild One to pull one off – can dress up nicely.
The simple and minimalist design of a moto racer makes it the dressiest option for a leather jacket.
Although the racing associations can sometimes result in brightly colored jacket with stripes. Also called cafe racer jackets, these jackets have a small turtle-neck snap collar.
For a sportier look, wear a moto racer with just about any of your smart casual clothes. They look great with v-neck t-shirts, button-down shirts and dark denim jean.
Originally designed for the crew of bomber aircraft, this classic style, zip-up style is a waist-length leather coat with a soft inner lining.
The turndown collar is lined with fleece, corduroy or flannel and is visible on both sides of the chin.
The waist and cuffs are reinforced with elastic as this no-frills jacket is designed to keep the wearer warm.
Famously worn by Daniel Craig in the movie Defiance, the Utility jacket is derived from a hunting jacket.
It has 4 pockets on each side to store extra items that you may need to carry. (i.e. ammo, water, earplugs, etc.)
The Utility coat also closely correlates to the “Fatigue” jacket.
The Car Coat has been around for ages, but recently made it’s way into the spotlight by Dean Winchester in the TV show Supernatural.
It’s designed with buttons instead of a zipper, and a falls around the upper thigh area to allow easy maneuvering in and out of a vehicle.
Designed for easy horseback riding, the Cattleman jacket uses buttons instead of zippers with a back slit to sit on a horse easier.
Usually found in rural parts of the country, it is a classic for ranchers and cattlemen.
Reaching down to the feet, the leather duster is a split back leather version of an overcoat.
Originally made with a wax finish, it was used to protect ranchhands outfits from dust and weather.
It has since been adopted as a leather version for men who ride choppers with extended handlebars.
Popularized by the younger generation, the varsity jacket is known for leather sleeves and a fabric body.
Usually reserved for more “streetstyle” attire, this jacket falls into the ultra casual slot on the formality scale.
Inspired by traditional fencing attire, the defining feature on these jackets is a curved front with either one or two zippers running the entire front length of the jacket.
A slim, form-fitting jacket with a high turtle-neck collar that opens out when unzipped.
The fencing jacket has been designed to accommodate a more fashion forward crowd.
Does the jacket enhance the appearance and shape of the wearer?
- Short men: A short man is advised to wear a short jacket to elongate the appearance of his legs.
- Thin men: will benefit from an elastic band that cinches the waist, creating a silhouette with accentuated shoulders and a broader torso.
- Bulky men: avoid jackets that will stretch around your body, making you look more round. Stick with a straight cut.
Nothing screams badass like a black motorcycle leather jacket. It is also the most popular color for leather jackets. However, that doesn’t mean that black is necessarily the best choice for a leather jacket.
Experiment with other masculine hues – shades of brown, tan, gray and beige. If your selection is a brighter color, just make sure you have the attitude to carry it well.
Black – for the spirited rock star…. If the jacket is black, go with black or grey trousers/jean and black shoes.
Brown – for the Indiana Jones adventurer… If the jacket is brown, go with beige pants. Try to keep the color tone similar to stay chic.
Adding a thick wool scarf ramps up the sophistication.
You need to care for the jacket to maintain the quality and improve its longevity.
Leathers are fairly weather proofed. It is advisable not to get it wet, but in case you are caught wearing one in the rain, allow the jacket to dry naturally, away from extreme heat.
Look for extra taping on the interior seams for weather proofing and a decent lining.
If you wear them in the rain too often, the leather will dry out a little. Use a leather conditioner to restore flexibility. Or clean the surface with saddle soap after exposure to rain.
Use a leather oil to restore the jacket’s luster. This acts as a supplement to the natural oils in the leather which can be washed out, especially with exposure to rain.
Frequent applications of mink oil will extend the lifespan of the jacket and keep the leather supple.
Cleaning Leather Jacket Stains
Wipe stains immediately.
Remove winter salt deposits by sponging with clean water. Avoid spraying perfumes directly on your leather jacket. Professional leather cleaning is preferred – annually if the jacket is worn frequently.
Storing Your Leather Jacket
Store your leather jacket flat or roll it.
If hanging up – use a sturdy padded hanger to prevent stretch marks. Leather becomes dry when stored in plastic or a non-breathable cover. Allow wrinkles to hang out naturally. Never iron your leather jacket.
#6 Leather Jacket Criteria – Cost
Buying a really awesome leather jacket means spending a lot of money.
If it’s cheap, it is generally advisable not to buy it.
If it is your intention to go for the look without paying the cost – it won’t be long before you realize why a $200 leather jacket is a waste of your money.
The entry point for a good quality leather jacket is around $500. This is not an unreasonable amount to pay if you consider the value of the jacket (VALUE = price/number of wears).
Make a one-time investment in a quality leather jacket that will last decades without losing its magnetic appeal. It can be hard to tell the difference between a top quality (full-grain) leather and a fake (faux) leather at first glance.
Fake leather jackets made from synthetic material are considerably cheaper than those made from quality leather.
The obvious advantages of full-grain leather are a superior quality fabric that drapes better and durability that relates to the longevity of the leather jacket.
Within a few years, faux leather would likely start flaking or creasing very poorly. Manufacturing costs are often cut by using thinner leather. Thin leather isn’t necessarily bad – but can decrease durability and can prevent the jacket from draping well. A thicker jacket drapes better due to the extra weight.
- Unless you’ve experienced both, it can be difficult to see why full grain leather is vastly superior to faux leather.
- Faux leather’s most glaring drawback is that it doesn’t drape as well.
- Faux leather has a plastic shine and the top layer tends to wear off, especially at the points of contact. Expect the color to change over time.
The tough guy attitude that comes with wearing a leather jacket is mostly contingent on the jacket and less on whether you can pull off a badass mentality.
You do need to have an attitude to wear the leather jacket, but half of it comes from the jacket itself. A leather jacket exudes confidence, masculinity, and sex appeal.