If there is one article of menswear that is synonymous with the concept of a rebel or a badass, the leather jacket has to be it.
Leather jackets have been around for a long time and were once considered integral pieces of work wear. They were worn by fighter pilots during World War II and were the favoured jackets of early motorcycle enthusiasts of the 1920s and 1930s.
Although leather jackets have been worn in America for close to 100 years, not a whole lot about them has changed. Some of the most popular styles during the early part of the 20th century remain just as popular today.
That’s why in this article I want to go over three of the most iconic leather jackets of all time and how the addition of any one of them to your wardrobe can help you cultivate a more rebellious look.
But before I get into a discussion on these iconic leather jackets, I think it would be prudent of me to briefly mention some of the styles of leather jackets that I think you should avoid.
The fact is that leather jackets today can come in a wide variety of different styles. You can have leather pea coats, trench coats, mac jackets etc. In other words, if there is a style or type of jacket in existence, you can bet your bottom dollar that there is a leather version of that jacket as well. In my opinion, unless you really know what you’re doing, you’re better off if you stick to leather jackets that don’t extend past the waistline. I find that leather jackets that hit you below the waist (such as leather pea coats, mac jackets etc.) can easily make you look more like a reject from the Matrix trilogy rather than a badass rebel.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move into a discussion on the type of leather jackets that I do prefer.
The Moto Jacket (aka Café Racer) is by far my favourite style of leather jacket. It essentially started off as a light weight motorcycle jacket but has since become a popular statement piece in the wardrobes of style enthusiasts around the world.
And I don’t blame them.
What makes this particular type of leather jacket so great is its simplistic design. You won’t see any unnecessary detailing such as epaulets, extra pockets, or additional zippers on this jacket. This makes the moto jacket an excellent choice for someone who is looking to maintain a polished look while still adding a bit of “edginess” to their outfit.
When it comes to the moto jacket there really are no rules on how you can wear it. I say let your imagination and personal style be your guide.
What originally started off as a jacket designed to keep World War II pilots warm during their bombing raids has since become a fashion staple in contemporary menswear.
When you first look at the design of the bomber jacket you immediately recognize that a premium has been placed on function. As such, these types of jackets usually come with elastic/ribbed cuffs and waistband, and many even include a fur-lined collar.
Although these jackets are definitely designed for warmth, much like the moto jacket, they can be worn both casually and formally. In my opinion, the bomber jacket is an excellent choice for someone who is looking to dress with a more masculine or rugged aesthetic due to its more natural “work wear” vibe.
In that sense, my recommendation would be to pair the bomber jacket with a nice sweater, wool trousers, and a pair of boots for truly rugged look.
My only caution would be to those who would be interested in “dressing up” the bomb jacket. In that case, I recommend you pick a jacket that does not have a large, fur-lined collar. This will make it much easier to wear the jacket with a nice button up shirt, a pair of slacks, and a tie.
The double rider, or what is commonly referred to as the “punk rocker” or “biker” jacket, is definitely the badass of leather jackets. In fact, these jackets are so badass that after Marlon Brando wore one in the movie The Wild Ones, school systems around the country banned them because they were considered to be a bad influence on teenagers. It’s no surprise that the double rider has since become an iconic jacket favoured by rebels, outcasts, and other so called ne’er-do-wells.
The standard design of the double rider includes large lapels and an asymmetrical zipper. It also has several zippered pockets on the front. For those of you with a more rebellious or rakish aesthetic, the double rider is an excellent choice.
Although this jacket can be worn in casual situations very easily (t-shirt and jeans), it requires a little bit more confidence to pull off in formal situations. My advice would be to keep things simple: dark wool trousers, a white button up shirt, and a dark tie would be the perfect back drop for the double rider. When attempting to wear the double rider more formally I wouldn’t recommend exploring with loud colours or prints. Keep things understated and let the jacket speak for itself.
Quality & Price
In terms of price, most style aficionados would scoff at ever buying a leather jacket for less than 1k. I think I’m a little bit more reasonable when it comes to price. While I definitely don’t think paying upwards of 1K for a leather jacket is obscene (remember, you’ll be wearing this thing for many years to come), I certainly understand guys who might balk at that figure. So with this in mind, my recommendation would be to spend no less than $500 on a decent leather jacket.
For those of you who are looking for a reputable retailer that makes high quality leather jackets for under a grand, I highly recommend you check out Schott NYC (no affiliation). This is the company that basically invented all of the leather jackets I’ve described above.
There you have it, three leather jackets that have stood the test of time, and any one of which that can add an element of rebelliousness to your wardrobe. Just remember to invest in a quality piece so that you can reap the style rewards for many years to come.
Here’s to looking sharp!