When it comes to men's style, there aren't many garments more versatile than a leather jacket. However, as a middle-aged man, it's important to know what looks good and what doesn't. After all, no guy wants to look like he's wearing a jacket from his teenage son's wardrobe.
In today's article, I'm breaking out how to style a leather jacket for men in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s+, and show you some great outfit ideas that will help you look your best. We'll be covering:
- 3 Rules For Wearing Leather Jackets For Men
- What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men In Their 30s?
- What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men In Their 40s?
- What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men In Their 50s?
- What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men Aged 60+?
Today's article is sponsored by my friends over at JL Rocha – craftsmen of A1 leather and suede products.
The first time I met the owners, Jose Luis and Jose Noel (a father & son business combo), I realized I loved their jackets not only because of the quality build but also because of the deep-rooted family values their business represented.
JL Rocha's heavy-duty leather is built to last a lifetime. 30 years from now, you could still be rocking the same jacket you bought today (provided it hasn't been stolen by your son!)
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3 Rules For Wearing Leather Jackets For Men
Here's the deal, gents – anyone from the age of 18 to 80 can wear a leather jacket. Guys have been rocking leather for hundreds of years and, as long as you buy the correct style for your age and body type, there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't feel confident wearing a leather jacket at any age.
That being said, there are a few basic rules you need to follow when wearing a leather jacket – ESPECIALLY if you're a man at risk of looking like he's trying too hard to dress younger than his years.
Nothing too stressful, just a few recommendations I'd like to make before we get into which jacket is best for you according to your age group.
#1 The Leather Jacket Must Fit Correctly
Sounds obvious, right?
Not necessarily – you'd be surprised how many guys I see walking around in leather jackets that are too long in the sleeves or narrow in the shoulders.
Fit is important at any age, but when you're a slightly older guy who's trying to look stylish and well put together, it's essential that you nail the fit of every garment you wear – leather jackets included.
That means you need to find a jacket that's the right size for your body type and height. That means the sleeves need to be the right length, the shoulders shouldn't be too loose OR too tight across the shoulders, and the jacket should be able to zip up without pulling across your midsection.
I know – it sounds like a lot. However, if you don't put the time and effort into finding a jacket that fits you well, you'll either:
- Look ridiculous wearing a jacket that doesn't suit your body structure
- Never wear your jacket because it's uncomfortable and awkward
To avoid this, I'd advise buying your leather jacket at a store where you can try on each garment in front of a mirror. You'll know instantly whether or not a jacket fits you well by how it looks and feels in the changing room.
#2 Your Leather Jacket Must Suit Your Body Type
It's no coincidence that so many guys think leather jackets should be worn exclusively by younger men.
Let's be clear – when you're in your late teens and early 20s, you're in your prime. You've got the best body you'll ever have, and you can get away with wearing almost anything and still look good.
As you break into your 30s, 40s, and 50s – it's natural for a guy to gain a bit of weight around the midsection. You probably don't play as much sport as you used to, you're married and comfortable with your wife, and a few kids have come along, which means you just don't have time to hit the gym like you used to.
No one's judging you for that, gents. Trust me, we've all been there.
The fact is, many leather jacket styles suit slimmer builds. So it's important to be realistic about what jacket styles suit a dad-bod and which you should avoid at all costs.
We'll go into more detail about this later on, but in general:
- Biker Leather Jackets suit slim-waisted men
- Bomber Leather Jackets work for guys with a dad-bod
- Boxy Leather Overshirts suit larger men
#3 All Leather Jackets Are Casual
Broadly speaking, leather jackets are casual garments.
Sure, some are dressier than others – however, you're never going to look good wearing a leather jacket over the top of a tuxedo.
Nowadays, ‘formal' can mean a lot of different things, so there are ‘formal' events where a leather jacket could be worn. But working out what's appropriate and what isn't can be a minefield – so I thought I'd give you a bit of a breakdown below:
- Smart Casual: Yes, you can wear a leather jacket
- Business Casual: Yes, you can wear a leather jacket
- Business Formal: You can wear a leather jacket while commuting, but should remove it at the office
- Black Tie: No. Never.
- White Tie: No. No. No. For the love of God, NO!
In short – light-colored, textured leather is casual. For a more formal-looking leather jacket, opt for a black, smooth leather Moto Racer jacket.
What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men In Their 30s?
When you're in your 30s, it can be hard to know how to dress.
You're not 25 anymore, so the up-to-date style and fashion of younger men probably isn't going to work for you anymore. But at the same time, many would still consider you a younger man.
This can make it hard to pick out clothing that's suitable for your age – especially when it comes to leather jackets.
So what's a stylish guy to do? Hazard a guess at what's acceptable in the hopes the leather jacket he wears is appropriate for his age?
Maybe not – that's a pretty risky move.
Instead, use your head. You're in an in-between age, so look for in-between jackets to suit that! Your 20s mean slim-fit clothing and fashion-forward designs, while guys in their 40s might opt for classic designs in a more straight cut.
My advice? Check out the two jackets I recommend for guys in the 40s (in the next section) and adjust my advice to suit your age. That means opting for a slightly slimmer fit (after all, chances are you're still in pretty good shape) with more details to make the garments look ‘younger'.
What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men In Their 40s?
Guys in their 40s might find it difficult to understand what their age means for their style. After all, a 40-year-old guy isn't old, but he's also not young anymore.
As such, many guys around this age fall into the trap of either dressing below or beyond their years.
As such, when looking to invest in a leather jacket, the 40-year-old man should consider a few things:
- What do I want out of a leather jacket?
- Is there anything that I should avoid at all costs when shopping for a leather jacket?
- Does my body type suit leather jackets in general?
Generally speaking, a guy in his 40s can still pull off more youthful garments as long as he knows what he's doing.
However, it's important not to go too young – super skinny biker jackets might not be the way to go unless you're a 20-year-old with a 28-inch waist.
With that being said, let's take a look at the two styles of leather jacket I would recommend to any 40-year-old man:
#1 Moto Jackets
The Moto Jacket is a very minimal, sleek-looking leather jacket that's perfect for guys breaking into middle age.
It's symmetrical in design, doesn't feature any bulky lapels or collars, and looks very European – as it should, seeing as it was made popular by motorcycle racers from across the pond.
In my opinion, the Moto Jacket is the perfect balance between edgy leather and sleek sophistication. You'll commonly see these jackets made from smooth black leather with little to no detailing (like studs, embroidery, or excess pockets). For this reason, it suits the man that's looking to adjust to his more mature years without giving up his youthful, stylish edge.
If you're in your 40s, I would highly recommend investing in a Moto Jacket.
You can wear it with pretty much anything – from dark-wash jeans and a polo to chinos and a button-down shirt. It's truly versatile, sophisticated, and stylish all at once.
Just make sure you get the fit right – as I mentioned earlier, these jackets look best when they're fitted and don't have any excess fabric bunching up around the wrists or waist.
#2 Men's Leather Biker Jacket (Or Double Rider)
In the same vein as the Moto Racer leather jacket, the modern men's leather biker jacket is best suited to the man that wants to transition between young and mature clothing.
Sure, many iterations of the biker jacket just aren't suited to guys past the age of 30. Anything with an excess amount of studs or ‘fashionable' detailing should be avoided at all costs as a mature man.
However, if you choose carefully, a Biker leather jacket can look great on a middle-aged man.
The key is to look at the details and be intentional when it comes to choosing your jacket style.
For example, many biker jackets will feature ‘rock and roll' style details like studs, spikes, and chains. Is this something a mature man can pull off? Absolutely not! I'll be frank… unless your name's Alice Cooper, no man should even consider trying to wear this style of the men's leather biker jacket.
Instead, 40-year-old guys should look for biker jackets that are sleek, well-fitted, and made from high-quality leather. Look for a jacket with:
- Slightly smaller lapel collars
- Few/no studs
- Absolutely no patchwork or colored stitching
- Gun metal sips and button poppers
What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men In Their 50s?
The big 5-0.
Many people consider 50 to be the age when a man can really show who he really is. He's past the point in his life where he needs to pretend to be something he's not and follow the herd.
The same can be said for a 50-year-old's choice of clothing – it's time to ditch the boring suits and dad jeans and start dressing for success.
A leather jacket is a perfect way for a 50-year-old man to show that he's still got style without looking like he's trying too hard.
There are two main types of leather jackets I would recommend for men in their 50s:
- The Bomber Jacket
- The Field Jacket
Both of these styles are classic, stylish and will make you look great without appearing overly trendy or fashion-forward.
#1 Suede Bomber Jackets
The bomber jacket is a timeless style that has been around for decades. It was originally designed for pilots in World War II (hence the name) and has been popular ever since.
For men in their 50s, I would recommend choosing a bomber jacket that is made from suede. This adds a level of sophistication and refinement that other materials just can't match. Sure, suede might not be as durable and tough as other forms of leather, but what it lacks in durability, it makes up for in elegance.
When it comes to choosing the right color, there are really no set rules. However, I would recommend avoiding anything too bright or garish – stick to more subdued colors like brown, navy, burgundy or shades of gray.
As for the fit, you want your bomber jacket to be snug but not too tight. There should be enough room for you to comfortably layer a sweater underneath without feeling restricted.
Depending on the style of your bomber, you may find that the base of the jacket features an elastic waistband. For guys with a larger mid-section, this can be a great option to help you look slimmer. The boxy structure of the jacket can help to hide curves, while the elasticated waist brings you in and can make your hips look smaller.
#2 Leather Field Jackets (Or Fatigue Jacket)
The leather field jacket is another classic style that has been around for many years.
While the leather field jacket might not be as popular as it once was, it's still a great option for men in their 50s who are looking for a stylish and sophisticated leather jacket that sets them apart from other guys out there.
As the name might suggest, field jackets give off an air of adventure. They're designed to be worn in the great outdoors and often fall in the same category as waxed cotton jackets – ideal for pairing with a pair of hardy jeans and wellington boots for a walk in the fall countryside.
While younger guys are able to pull off field jackets, I think the more refined and expensive look of a high-quality leather field jacket is best suited to mature guys. There's something almost stately about this style of leather jacket, a style that most young guys would find hard to match with their slim-fit jeans and bulky fashion trainers.
For bigger guys, the leather field jacket can be a good option, provided you find one with a belt. Typically, a field jacket falls below the waistline – which can make larger guys look even larger as the material overhangs their gut.
As such, I'd advise looking for a leather field jacket with a belt at the waist. When fastened, this will help to bring the middle of the torso inwards and reduce the size of that dad-bod beer gut.
What Leather Jacket Looks Best On Men Aged 60+?
At the age of 60 and upwards, guys start to really lose confidence in their appearance. After all, most men in their 60s have started to experience multiple signs of aging – whether that's wrinkles, gray hair or a little bit more around the middle.
But just because you're not as young as you used to be, it doesn't mean you can't still look great. In fact, I would argue that men in their 60s are some of the best-dressed guys out there.
The fact is, a lot of guys over 60 give up and resign themselves to dressing like a grandpa. For any stylish 60-year-old, that's a huge advantage. If you decide to keep up a good style and dress well in your 60s, chances are you'll look better than 95% of men your age.
Knowing which leather jackets suit you at 60 is a big part of that.
For guys in their 60s, there are two types of leather jacket I would recommend:
- Leather Car Coats
- Leather Blazer (or the Cattleman)
#1 Leather Car Coats
There's just something really sophisticated about a man in a leather car coat.
Originally, this style of jacket was developed as a compromise between shorter jacket styles and longer coat styles. They sit just below the buttocks so that they can provide more warmth than a standard waist-length jacket without getting tangled around your legs like long coats tend to.
Generally speaking, leather car coats are very simple in design. They're usually button-up, and feature jetted pockets – so there are little to no metal zips and poppers visible on the outside of the garment.
For guys in their 60s, Leather Car Coats are the perfect way to acknowledge your age without resigning yourself to ‘old man fashion.' In my opinion, younger guys just can't pull these off because they look like the jacket of a man who has experience and status.
When it comes to color, opt for black or dark brown – these are the most timeless and sophisticated shades of leather that won't make you stand out in all the wrong ways.
As for the fit, make sure you go for a slim or tailored fit as opposed to a regular or boxy cut. At your age, you want to look sharp and well-dressed in clothes that fit you.
#2 Leather Blazer (Or Cattleman Jacket)
The Cattleman Blazer is probably the most controversial leather jacket style on this list. After all, not many guys look at a leather blazer and think it's something that a stylish man should wear.
I've heard some guys say they should only be worn by cowboys or Goodfellas – but I beg to differ.
As an older guy, you can actually look pretty darn stylish wearing a Cattleman leather blazer – they're minimal, tailored-looking, and suit a wide variety of outfits from casual to semi-formal.
The great thing about Cattleman blazers is that they come in a wide range of colors and styles. For example, you could go for a classic black leather blazer or something more unusual like tan or green.
Alternatively, if you want to stay on the safer side, you could always opt for a brown leather blazer – they tend to be the most versatile and easy to style.
When it comes to choosing the right fit, make sure you go for a slim or tailored cut as opposed to anything baggy or boxy. And finally, regardless of which color or style you choose, make sure the jacket is well-fitted so that it doesn't look like you're swimming in material.
WARNING: Most tailors won't have the tools to work with leather. That means that alterations are hard to make and can become very expensive. That's why it's important to shop around and find a Cattleman jacket that fits well off-the-rack.
The correct fit of a leather blazer is the same as any other blazer – it shouldn't be too loose or tight across the shoulders or chest, and the sleeves should sit just above the wrist.
Pair with a shirt, jeans, and matching leather boots for a timeless and mature look that's sure to set you apart from the crowd.