As a vegetarian, wearing animal skins is cardinal sin No.1 for me. However, when it comes to such cultural icons as leather jackets, these morals seem to dwindle.
I think at this early stage we can assume Matthew’s veto from vegetarian Catholicism – at least as far as his wardrobe is concerned.
I see no wardrobe as complete without a leather sort to don at the drop of a cow. No matter who you are, your age, gender, size – irrelevant! There is a style to suit everyone. Yet I find myself asked the same question almost with an air of paranoia: “Will they go out of fashion?”
Designers send drones of models down the catwalks every year sporting leather jackets in all manner of styles, each one varying the cut to the colour; no one ever seems to tire of seeing them!
In this definitive guide to all things leather, jackety and leather jackety – I am going to instil principles, teach a trend or two and show you how to become the icon of an undying style.
The leather jacket claimed its place on the fashion wall of fame in the 1950s. It became a piece of Hollywood iconography that soon crossed the pond in all directions. The style icons that dared to don it only heightened the staple of all things cool.
As is biblical with the suit, the leather jacket fails to age; it merely progresses. Sadly you do not offer the same timeless etiquette. This brings to front the question: Which style best suits you, and what should it be worn with?
Cut: The Aviator
Made Popular By: Tom Cruise ‘Top Gun’
Who should wear: This jacket is a huge part of the current military trend; however it is made for the more ‘slight of frame’ shall we say. The extra padding inside is practical for keeping warm, but it also pads out the body, so for all those of us who are still a little festively plump, I’m afraid this one is a no no.
Guide: Created to be a practical piece of clothing in WWII, but is now hanging in just about every celebrities and fashion follower’s wardrobe. Aviators are really big this season and are great to wear as part of a vintage look. They have the nostalgic background extending from World War II, again sliding nicely in to the oh-so popular military apparel.
- Military boots
- Chunky knit jumpers
- Acid wash jeans
Cut: The Bomber
Made Popular By: James Dean
Who should wear: The bomber is quite diverse, in that it can look good on men of all ages and shapes. However, how you match it to your particular body is the tricky part.
For guys who are not very well built on top, finding one with an elastic waist jacket cinches you in, leaving your shoulders looking a lot broader. For guys who are of a stockier frame, I would avoid such a jacket like the plague, as the elastic waist will only highlight how big you really are; look for a standard falling design.
Guide: The bomber jacket is a stylish extension to the aviator, perhaps even more like the original aviator than what is currently on offer. As I mentioned earlier, stocky guys should avoid the elastic waist bomber, but going for a loose- fit and zipping it to about 6″ south of the neck, will help to reduce the appearance of any extra chins, as it creates a deep V shape, which elongates the neck.
- Brogue Boots
- Denim Shirt
- Skinny Jeans
Cut: The Biker Jacket
Made Popular By: Marlon Brando – ‘The Wild One’
Who should wear: Again, another diverse option. The biker jacket is a statement piece on its own, so it works well for most men. Often seen as the ‘if all else fails’ piece, but don’t attempt carry it off with that attitude!
Guide: This jacket is all about the versatility of men. If you were going for a glam rock look, this would be perfect. Think Russell Brand/ Noel Fielding. Younger, slim guys can wear this with something as simple as some black skinny jeans and a plain grey/white tee.
Guys who are perhaps getting older, or if your body ‘isn’t what it used to be’, then breaking up the silhouette is a great option. Pairing some dark blue jeans with a black biker jacket is still a cool look, but your body is not just one mass of colour in this case, which will again make you appear slimmer.
- Monotone print tees
- Ankle boots
- Slim fit black jeans
Cut: The Hooded
Made Popular By: David Beckham
Who should wear: Goldenballs himself was working this look for the best part of the last decade, however to wear this now, would definitely get a red card in my books. The hooded leather jacket does not have to be specific to a certain cut or colour to work. However, as it does fit into the “hoodie” category, I would suggest avoiding this if you are aged 25+.
Guide: As mentioned in my ‘who should wear’ section, the additional hood to the jacket has a more youthful appeal, however older gentlemen should not use this a sign to reclaim their ‘golden years’, as it will make you look more fool than cool. Having a hooded Jacket means you can wear more material on your bottom half, for example worker (baggy) jeans. This is because the hood adds weight to your shoulders, which overall balances out the figure.
- Earth coloured chinos
- Scoop neck t-shirt
Cut: Tan & Coloured Leather
Made Popular By: John Wayne (Albeit a gilet)
Who should wear: Wearing a bold colour on a certain part of you body, is of course going to attract people’s eyes to you. If you have moobs (man- boobs) and a pot- belly peaking out the front of your jacket, this is most going to attract unwanted attention to what should be an understated area.
Guide: Much like all of the other leather jackets, coloured leathers were never intended to be viewed as a ‘new trend’ in fashion. When most people think of leather jackets, they automatically think black or brown, which can be a little plain and repetitive sometimes. Coloured leather jackets work great either opposite contrasting colours, or a block coloured outfit, for example all black wrapped up nicely with a blue leather jacket.
- Block coloured top, trousers and shoes.
- Other bright colours, for example some plum coloured skinnies with a blue jacket.
- Accessories matching the colour of your jacket.
Icon status should be an aspiration. Not an admiration. A life reserved to sit back and watch the icons a’ few shine is a life that fails to leave any mark on the world.
To showcase the popularity in the subject of today’s guide, I have created a gallery to depict how even some of the most famous people to have ever lived turned a jacket – into a piece of style history.
1950s – Elvis ‘The King’ Presley
1960s – The Beatles
1970s – Classic Ramones look
1980s – Duran Duran
1990s – Oasis ‘The Golden Years’
Now – The Cribs
While some may consider any part of this to be a terrible taste in music, these famous bands have always been the style of their generation. From Elvis’s up-turned collar of the 50s, to the Cribs unwashed, rock-chic look of present, the leather jacket has always been a must.