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Okay, so you wanna look cool. In order to do so, you could take up smoking, get a tattoo, pierce a body part — or, you could forgo those somewhat permanent (and potentially damaging to your health) options and just buy a leather jacket.
Since their inception, leather jackets have been signifiers of cool. Originally sported by aviators and military members in the 1900s, the leather jacket has come to be associated with some of the coolest people and pop culture moments: the Punk movement, Marlon Brando in The Wild One, actual bikers, Brad Pitt in Fight Club, and most recently, Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems — the list goes on. But despite populating popular culture for what seems like forever, why is the number of men wearing leather jackets so small in actuality? Despite being frequently touted as an essential item every guy should own, the real-life men donning them are few-and-far-between. Again, why?
My personal theory is that men, yes you, are afraid to wear them. As ridiculous as that may sound, with such bastions of coolness to live up to (I mean, we’re talking about Marlon Brando and Brad Pitt, people) it’s understandable why one might be hesitant to try it themselves. For all that fall into the camp of the reticent: don’t fear the leather jacket. While you may think they’re only reserved for fictional characters portrayed by extremely attractive actors, it’s completely feasible for any regular ol’ Joe to wear one and not look like an impostor. It’s just all about finding the leather jacket that’s right for you.
You’re probably inclined to think of biker jackets as being your only option for leather outerwear, but there’s plenty of iterations of the style, as evidenced below. If you’re at a loss for how to style one, it’s best to remember that simplicity is key: a white tee, jeans, pretty much any shoes and whatever leather jacket matches most with your sartorial preferences, and you’ll look like one of those enviable people who can look stylish without trying — and most importantly, you’ll look cool.
Levi’s Faux Leather Trucker Jacket
For those just dipping their toes into the world of leather jackets, this Levi’s option is a good entry point. Since it’s faux leather, you don’t have to commit to the investment price of real leather, so if you decide you like it, you can always move on to the real thing.
Quince 100% Leather Motorcycle Jacket
Quince’s take on the classic biker jacket — the modern cut includes a broad collar and snap button lapel — also happens to be one of the more affordable options out there, despite being crafted from a top-grain sheep leather.
Mango Pocket Leather Overshirt
Much like your favorite shacket, Mango’s overshirt works exceptionally well over a tee or under a jacket, making it an excellent layering tool as the temperatures drop. Unlike your favorite overshirt, it’s crafted from 100% suede leather that’ll wear in beautifully, not fray out.
Séfr Vegan Leather Francis Jacket
Swedish label Séfr’s Francis Jacket isn’t exactly a leather blazer — after all, it’s cut from sleek Japanese vegan leather, not the real stuff. Then again, it’s not not a leather blazer, and with the clear ’70s influence of its slightly padded shoulders and sharp tailoring, fits right in with any formal apparel you might pair it with. Wear it with slacks, wear it with a tie…just wear it, damnit!
Banana Republic BR Archives Leather Aviator Jacket
Modeled after the original G-2 jackets of the U.S. Navy, this archival Banana Republic Aviator Jacket classic as they come. That’s not to say it doesn’t include its fair share of updates: a quilted lining for extra warmth and special grommets at the underarms to keep you from overheating are new and welcome additions.
Belstaff Dene Jacket
It makes perfect sense that any Belstaff jacket would lean into the functional, militaristic aesthetic; the British heritage label has made sturdy offerings for all types of workmen for decades. Emulating a water-repellent field jacket, the Italian-made Dene Jacket has an abundance of pockets and reinforced shoulder panels, with will either serve you well on your rugged travels, or just look really cool (or both)!
Mr P. Nubuck Jacket
Leather jackets? A dime a dozen. A good leather jacket? Considerably hard to come by. A good leather jacket that also happens to be sky blue? We didn’t think one existed — that is, until we stumbled across the Nubuck Jacket from Mr Porter’s in-house label Mr P. Its trendbreaking minimalist design is complimented with a notched collar, discreet chest pocket and contrasting black buttons. The jacket is a bold choice, but hey, you’re a bold guy, right?
Schott Waxed Natural Pebbled Cowhide Cafe Leather Jacket
The market for leather jackets is awash with plenty of black versions and styles, but what about those who prefer leather of the brown variety? While the options are slim, they do exist, like this polished leather jacket from Schott NYC in a rich brown. And it isn’t just a stellar purchase for its shade, either — sporting the same hand-cut cowhide leather that Brando famously pulled off, Schott’s is known for their quality, durability and supreme style.
Billy Reid West Village Leather Jacket
A fully lined, shearling-collared winterized layer with oodles of charm, ATL-based designer Billy Reid stuck gold with his West Village Leather Jacket. Expensive, yes, but can you really put a price on looking like a young Dylan?
Tom Ford Full-Grain Leather Blouson Jacket
There’s no way around it: this is a beautiful jacket. It might not be the most practical beginner leather jacket, but if it’s what you want (and you can afford it) then more power to you. The chocolate color is a little more subtle and softer than your traditional black leather — ideal if you wanna look tough but also show you have a soft side. Or just mention that the beaut is Tom Ford. That works too.
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