The leather jacket is one of those garments, like good denim, which will never go out of style. And this isn’t just some hyperbolic statement. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which a quality leather jacket (not that faux-leather nonsense) doesn’t just look good, but feels good too.
A leather jacket not only elevates an outfit, it’s rugged enough to command a sense of pride and masculinity to just about any wardrobe. Whether you’re going with a classic bomber style or updating it to a more modern moto fit, a leather jacket ties an outfit together without much thought involved.
Part of the reason for this is that, like most great pieces of menswear, the inception of the leather jacket is steeped in military uniforms. Leather is a durable fabric that has natural insulation and water-repellent properties. It also just happened to look good, and it when from a top choice for those in the trenches as well as those who took to the skies with early aviators and bomber pilots.
These jackets, called bomber jackets and more specifically A1 jackets, soon came back with the veterans after World War 1 and the design quickly disseminated into the civilian class across America. It became not just a style symbol, but shorthand for the rugged masculinity that defined the post war period of American culture.
The other reason for the impact on menswear comes later counter-cultural movements adopting the leather jacket for its own purposes. This could first be seen with motorcycle culture, when riders used leather jackets for protection against road abrasions in a crash. Further, the punk, and later grunge, movements in the latter half of the 20th century adopted the leather jacket. These periods turned fashion upside down while putting a spin on the overall approach to menswear that we’re still feeling today. These aftershocks of the punk era still give the leather jacket a bit of an edge.
With all of this in mind, it’s hard to not see the leather jacket not just as a viable jacket option to throw on whenever you need an extra layer, but as the jacket that will define your wardrobe for years to come.
The Best Leather Jackets Right Now
Buck Mason Bruiser Leather Moto Jacket
Buck Mason continues to excel at making classic garments that aren’t just stylish, they’re comfortable. The leather on their iconic Bruiser jacket is as supple as it comes, which makes wearing this garment all the more enjoyable. With its simple detailing, it’s the perfect weight and style to mix and match for that “high-low” look.
The Jacket Maker Gatsby Blue Leather Biker Jacket
Not all jackets have to be black or brown and The Jacket Maker proves this. Their biker jacket comes in a few color options, including this luxe blue and an equally eye-catching green. And if these aren’t your style, don’t worry. The Jacket Maker is one of my top picks for actually creating a bespoke, fully-customizeable jacket just for you.
Schott NYC Classic Perfecto Motorcycle Jacket
No leather jacket on the market today is as classic as the Schott Perfecto. With its heavyweight steerhide leather and its distinctive moto accents, this jacket has been a favorite for leather jacket enthusiasts since 1928. Every detail of this jacket shows nearly a century’s worth of know-how and craftsmanship and it’s hard to see it going out of style anytime soon.
Harley Davidson Bar & Shield Classic Moto
Who better to trust for a classic moto jacket than the OGs of motorcycling? Harley Davidson’s new offshoot brand, Bar & Shield, defines the motoring aesthetic and pays homage to 120 years in business. It’s an update on the classic design with a more modern silhouette and an overall cleaner feel without losing some of the characteristics of a classic moto, such as the cinched waistband closure and the slanted front pockets.
Belstaff Trialmaster Panther Jacket
A more mature cousin to the waxed jacket, this Belstaff Trialmaster gets all the detailing of classic British outerwear right, while still finding ways to improve on a classic design. It’s the small details with this jacket that make it worthwhile. The four bellows pockets that give it the outdoorsy feel, the stand collar that adds a bit of dimension to the top of the jacket, and even the hand waxing, that both accentuates the garment’s overall look while also assisting in its water-repellency.
Overland Memphis Lambskin Bomber Moto Jacket
Overland makes some great jackets, so it was hard to pick just one from the brand. But the Memphis Lambskin Bomber Moto seems to have it all. Made from a waxed lambskin, it’s insulating while still being incredibly soft and moveable. Its sleek lines with both inspiration from moto and bomber style jackets give it an updated feel that’s perfect for modern guys who want to dress with an edge.
Reiss Roland Zip-Through Leather Jacket
Reiss’s simple construction is one of those everyday sort of jackets that easily elevates an outfit. Put it over a cotton sweater and throw on some jeans and your outfit is complete. Without too much detail, this jacket almost acts as a blazer, making it easy to dress up or down for work drinks, too.
Sandro Leather Aviator Jacket
Sandro mixes contemporary lines with a more vintage aesthetic, and a decidedly French flair. Their Aviator Jacket is a perfect example of updating a classic without wholly reinventing the wheel. This aviator jacket has just the right amount of fit to it and would look just as good on you today as, perhaps, Serge Gainsbourg in the 1960s.