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Since their debut as a men’s fashion piece more than 70 years ago, leather jackets have remained a staple in every guy’s wardrobe. And it’s easy to understand why: the best leather jackets make everyone feel f–king cool.
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As with many pieces of clothing, the genesis of leather jackets is in military gear. Ffirst engineered for aviators in the first and second world wars, leather jackets weren’t a fashion statement until Hollywood stars donned them in the Fifties. The jacket’s most notable early appearance was on the back of Johnny Strabler, the nihilistic motorcycle gang leader played by Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953).
Leather jackets quickly became the subversive uniform of the counterculture. America’s youth started sporting them religiously (see, Grease) while rock pioneers like Elvis and Gene Vincent wore the jackets on stage as easily as they wore blazers and printed shirts. This relationship continued through the 20th century with rockers such as Johnny Ramone, Bowie, and basically every punk star wearing a leather jacket.
Today, leather jackets have retained their status as a cool-kid must-have while also sprouting grown-up versions seen on high fashion runways, rap megastars, and dapper dads alike. In other words, it’s never been a better time to rock a leather jacket — no matter your lifestyle. To help find the perfect leather jacket, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites below.
What Are the Best Leather Jacket Styles?
Before buying a new leather jacket, you’ll want to decide which style you’re looking for. Here are some of the main variations of leather jackets.
Classic Biker: The most iconic leather jacket of all time is the moto jacket (a.k.a. motorcycle jacket). It features a fold-down notch lapel collar, zip-up front (usually asymmetrically), plenty of zipper pockets, and often a belt.
Café Racer: Another leather jacket designed for biking is the café racer. It’s more streamlined than the classic biker jacket with a round stand-up collar, straight zipper, and minimal detailing.
Bomber: The bomber jacket was the original leather jacket worn by airmen in the early 1900s. These jackets have a ribbed hem and cuffs, making them an excellent defense against the cold.
Suede: If you want a more relaxed, western-inspired look, suede is a good option. These jackets are usually more versatile than a classic biker jacket as you can wear them casually or more dressed up. Of course, you do sacrifice function as suede can’t get wet.
Button-Up/Blazer: Button-up leather jackets (similar in shape to a blazer) are the most dressy of the bunch. They usually have minimal styling, save for a large collar.
What Are the Best Leather Jackets to Buy?
We’ve rounded up some of the best leather jackets for men, great for both big occasions and everyday wear. Don’t be afraid to beat these up and wear them in — premium leather will age beautifully and get softer over time.
1. Schott NYC Leather Moto Jacket
Moto jackets from Schott NYC are the purebred classic worn by The Ramones and Brando in The Wild One. Their jackets are still as stylish as ever, with a throwback biker look, high-quality materials, and the name brand to boot. If you’ve been searching for a no-nonsense leather jacket, you can stop here.
This specific Schott jacket showcases a slightly more modern, slimmer cut than Schott’s original Perfecto jacket. It still has all the trappings of the classic including an asymmetrical zip closure, waist belt, plenty of zippers, and a diamond-quilted lining. The material is genuine oil-tanned cowhide that’s been hand-cut in America.
Despite its bold looks, this classic biker jacket can be worn with almost any outfit. Wear it casually with black jeans, a band tee, and sneakers, rock it a night out with Chelsea boots and a button-up, or even pair it with street-style looks.
Schott NYC Leather Moto Jacket
2. Saint Laurent Classic Biker Jacket
Fun fact: Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer to suggest an haute couture leather jacket. He proposed it as part of his 1960 collection for Dior, but the brand and its customers did not agree with the choice. Even though it’s a high-end piece, the Saint Laurent biker jacket is still rebellious.
Saint Laurent’s leather biker jacket has become a fixture in the upscale outerwear market. Its success can be attributed to its simplicity. The jacket is very similar to the classic moto jacket of the Fifties, but features a handful of upgrades that place it in high fashion.
The leather is just what you’d expect from a premium brand: buttery and luxurious. The hardware is made of burnished silver and the fit is quite slim for a modern silhouette. Because this jacket is more modern, we recommend wearing it with equally modern outfits such as upscale sweats and sneakers. Of course, you can also wear it with slacks, a tie, and a button-up as well.
Saint Laurent Classic Biker Jacket
3. Belstaff V Racer
Belstaff is one of the foremost brands for classic, high-quality outerwear. The British label’s expertise is beautifully showcased in this V Racer Jacket, a true café racer made out of supple cheviot lambskin. You get all the familiar café racer details like reinforced shoulders, an off-breast pocket, and a press stud collar, but the jacket is still tame enough to wear with casual outfits while running errands or traveling.
Belstaff V Racer
4. Belstaff Trialmaster Panther Jacket
Another great piece from Belstaff is this Trialmaster leather field jacket. It serves up the same mid-century moto-inspired look we want in a leather jacket, only with a UK twist that makes the jacket a bit more unique.
The calf leather is top-notch, as expected from Belstaff, and it’s been hand-waxed for a patinaed color that gets darker with wear. The jacket also scores some function points thanks to four large pockets on the front. The whole jacket is tied together, literally and figuratively, by a large waist belt.
Wear the Trailmaster jacket with combat boots and jeans for a true moto look, or go more modern with colorful sneakers, black chinos, and a logo tee.
Belstaff Trialmaster Panther
5. Todd Snyder Italian Suede Aviator Jacket
Suede can be scary, as it’s damaged by rain, but it’s supposed to be a luxurious, statement-making material — not a functional one. And when suede is used as effectively as it is in this Todd Snyder Aviator jacket, it’s just as irresistible as regular leather.
Like many of Todd Snyder’s pieces, this jacket nails a balance between casual ruggedness and luxury. In other words, it’s a near-perfect option for date night. Made in Italy, the jacket uses premium calf suede and features three exterior pockets (two at the hips and one on the chest). The dimensions are great too with a trim fit that hits right at the hip and a collar that can be folded down or flipped up.
Todd Snyder Italian Suede Aviator Jacket
6. Theory Lamb Leather Two-Button Jacket
Button-up leather jackets like this one from Theory are having a serious moment right now. Channeling Nineties hip-hop/streetstyle, the minimalist jackets are great over hoodies with chinos and jeans, but also work with dress shirts, slacks, and boots for a more dressy look. Theory’s take on the sleek jacket uses soft lamb leather and an unstructured silhouette to great effect. You can even order a size up to go full Nineties (and give yourself more room for layering).
Theory Lamb Leather Two-Button Jacket
7. Acne Studios Black Leather Biker Jacket
Another great biker jacket with a classic look is this one from Acne Studios. It’s in-between Schott and Saint Laurent in terms of price but delivers premium materials and a more modern vibe.
Acne Studios has become an established destination for clothing that bridges the gap between haute couture and streetstyle. This jacket follows suit with a few tweaks of the classic biker jacket. Firstly, the leather is Nappa lambskin, which creates a softer, more relaxed fit and feel. Secondly, Acne has eliminated some of the small details, translating to a more minimal look. The detachable pin-buckle belt is also slightly longer for more drama.
As mentioned, this is a great pick if you lean more towards streetstyle. It looks good with skate shoes, chinos, and a beanie, but also works with Chelsea boots and jeans.
Acne Studios Black Leather Nate Clean Jacket
8. Buck Mason Bruiser Leather Moto Jacket
The only downside with leather jackets is their often-high price tags. Luckily, you can score a classic, genuine leather jacket for as little as $550 in the form of this Buck Mason Bruiser. It’s a clear nod to throwback moto jackets, down to the high-hip cut and trim fit. The jacket also goes through a two-stage dye process to achieve a lived-in look right out of the box.
Buck Mason Bruiser Leather Moto Jacket
9. Ted Baker London Leadon Leather Bomber Jacket
If you’re looking for a more laid-back leather jacket, check out this bomber from Ted Baker London. True to the bomber style, the jacket has ribbing on the hem and cuffs and little detailing, save for hip pockets on either side. We suggest styling this one casually, maybe with low-key sneakers, baggy jeans, and a T-shirt or colorful sweater.
Ted Baker London Leadon Leather Bomber Jacket
10. The Jacket Maker
Fit is paramount when it comes to the best leather jackets, which is why we love The Jacket Maker, which lets you create your own custom leather jacket online.
On the brand’s website, you can enter eight measurements like chest circumference, height, shoulder width, and arm length. Then, The Jacket Maker provides a custom-fit piece, which is very likely to be more flattering and comfortable than something off the rack. Choose from classic leather jackets, to hooded bombers, racer-style picks and leather blazers, all in a variety of colors and styles (there are suede options too).
The brand’s pieces are also quite affordable (this biker jacket is under $300) and customization costs just $50. We got our custom jacket delivered in weeks and it fits like a glove. Our jacket was soft and supple right out of the box (I.e. it didn’t need much time to “break in”) and because it was tailor-made for our body type and sizing, it looked better than anything we’ve tried on in the past.
The Jacket Maker Legacy Biker Jacket
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