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A wardrobe is an expense: most clothing wears out over time and is replaced of necessity. An exquisite men’s leather jacket is an exception to this rule, an investment to last a lifetime and beyond—it is a statement piece you’ll pass on to your children or even grandchildren.
With rare exceptions, the leather jacket looks fabulous when you pair it with just about anything, a quality that infuses it with a versatility few other garments in your wardrobe can claim. And it only improves with age. But knowing how to choose the best leather jacket for your particular budget and wardrobe requires some effort on your part, and looking handsome in it isn’t as simple as merely throwing it on your back. We’ll wager the effort is worth your while, and to help get the ball rolling we’ve answered a few essential questions about this classic piece of outerwear, the men’s leather jacket.
WHY CHOOSE A LEATHER JACKET?
Leather is durable. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a sturdier material for a coat or jacket. A high- quality leather jacket lasts for decades, and if you treat it well, will outlive you. It might show a gouge or a scuff, but the garment itself will remain intact despite its character-building bumps and bruises. And while an exceptional leather jacket or coat can be pricey, when viewed through the lens of longevity it may in fact cost less than any other garment in your closet.
Leather protects you. It has long been the top choice of motorcyclists for its penchant to behave like a tough second skin; it can’t save anybody from the worst scrapes, but it does put a respectable barrier between your own skin and the pavement. It also delivers wind-breaking, highly water-resistant protection from the elements, even without waterproofing treatment.
Leather is timeless. As durable as leather is, it’s also enduring: your leather jacket will never go out of style. And it’s unabashedly masculine. The single best reason to own an exceptional leather jacket may finally be its transformative, rugged demeanor: it gives you carte blanche to feel like a tough guy without being showy. It is the one item every man should possess in his wardrobe.
TYPES OF LEATHER JACKETS: A GUIDE TO POPULAR STYLES
- If there is a single style to define the genre it is most assuredly the leather motorcycle jacket, known in the garment industry as the “rider” or “double rider”: belted, snapped, and zippered, the original has wide lapels and a flared collar with snaps to fasten it against the wind. It was and remains the champion for Harley-riding biker gangs and teen idols alike, but Marlon Brando brought it to the fore of pop couture. The genuine article notwithstanding, others of its ilk borrow bits of this archetypal garment to make it new, a fashion-forward piece that is still classic.
- Close on its heels is the bomber or flight jacket, which sometimes goes by its more official moniker, the A2. Originally designed for Army Air Corps pilots on the eve of the Second World War, it’s a military issued leather jacket with a center front zipper, ribbed cuffs and hem, and two large front flap pockets; the G-1 is its Naval variant. This jacket was made for serious business: it was cropped at the hip so a pilot could sit comfortably for long hours, and most were lined with shearling for warmth in the cockpit. Fleece, flannel, and corduroy are popular lining materials today, and shearling remains so in the bomber’s modern descendants. The bomber jacket has changed very little through the decades, a stalwart example of stylish utility.
- The motocross jacket, or racer, is a slimmed-down, ostensibly more aerodynamic version of the “rider.” It usually sports a symmetrical front zipper, band snap collar, zippered pockets, and otherwise minimal design details. The moto jacket possesses a more fitted cut than its popular sibling; streamlined and simple, it is arguably the most versatile of leather jackets.
- The cattleman is a thigh-length leather jacket made for horseback; it often flares slightly from the waist, a detail that betrays its equestrian intentions.
- Variants are the leather fatigue, the field coat, and the blazer. Precisely like its cousin in cloth, the fatigue is cut loose, with a soft collar and large flap pockets, sometimes cinched at the waist, occasionally belted. Many jackets possess some or all these details, each defying a true style category.
Types of Leather: - Generally speaking, cowhide, bison, deerskin, goatskin, lambskin, and calfskin are the most commonly used leathers. Let's explore the unique character of each one, and then we'll discuss leather grades.
COWHIDE: - Cowhide is the most impervious leather available, and the most commonly used. Strong, thick, and durable, it has been the material of choice for classic motorcycle jackets since the 1920s. Both water- and dirt-resistant, cowhide also offers excellent weather protection. Once you break it in with a little wear, your cowhide leather jacket will feel like a second skin.
BISON: - Similar to cowhide, bison leather is strong, durable, and excellent material for moto jackets and protective gear. Unlike most cowhide, bison has a distinctive pebbled grain that lends a rugged beauty to any leather jacket. Artisans choose bison leather both for its distinctive look and strength.
DEERSKIN: - Deerskin offers the strength and durability of cowhide with a softer, lighter feel. Supple and smooth, deerskin is used not only in women's and men's leather coats and jackets, but also in handbags and gloves. Exceptionally comfortable to wear, deerskin contours to your form and grows softer with each wear.
GOATSKIN: -The US Navy and Air Force use goatskin for their G-1 and A-2 aviator jackets because it's softer and lighter than cowhide, but also very durable. Like deerskin, goatskin is smooth, supple, and feels like an old favourite from the first wear. It also has a characteristic pebble grain.
LAMBSKIN: - When it comes to leather, lambskin is as soft as it gets. Lightweight and extremely smooth, lambskin is much thinner than cowhide and other leathers, and it offers a flattering drape. Many of the finest leather jackets, shoes, and high-end furnishings are crafted from lambskin.
CALFSKIN: - Calfskin pairs the strength and durability of cowhide with the soft, lightweight feel of lambskin. Generally thicker and heavier than lambskin, calfskin is at once supple and smooth, striking a superb balance between functional and fashionable.
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