It seems as though men’s fashion is having a love affair with popular seventies outerwear at the moment. Last week I featured the camel overcoat, and detailed how it has been adapted to the current market in order to make it even more desirable, versatile and wearable. After all these years, the classic camel overcoat remains a timeless piece that exudes luxury, class, wealth and an overall gentlemanly elegance.
Today I am going to showcase another piece of outerwear that is also making a huge comeback, although is very much the opposite of the camel overcoat; a jacket that rebels against the move towards a smarter aesthetic and will add an edge and some masculinity to any outfit you choose to integrate it into. That jacket is the leather bomber.
No matter what your age or personal style, the leather jacket continues to justify its place as a key piece that deserves a place in any modern wardrobe. It is one of those items that can be thrown on over the top of any outfit to transform it instantly – toughening up any look – whether it be casual or formal. Leather is also one of those special materials that only gets better with age – softening and developing character through extended use. In this respect, it is a true investment item that you will always get value for money from.
This status is aided further by the fact that the leather jacket is timeless. We often throw that word around here at FashionBeans, but if you examine male icons both past and present, the leather jacket has always been deeply ingrained into their personal style. Whether you prefer the rugged care free style of James Dean, the raw masculinity exuded by Marlon Brando, or more contemporary icons such as Alex Turner or Ryan Gosling, each of them has been spotted wearing the classic leather jacket on multiple occasions. It is a piece that has stood the test of time and will continue to for many generations to come.
For those males who want to integrate a leather jacket into their personal style (or just want to expand their collection), the key style of the moment comes in the form of the bomber jacket. Even though the industry put great emphasis on the ‘biker’ trend last year, the bomber jacket has seen a steady rise in popularity – probably in part to it being an understated piece that suits a wide range of looks. The biker jacket on the other hand is much more of a statement and is restricted slightly with the hard aesthetic it promotes.
The bomber jacket or flight jacket was initially created for pilots in World War I. In this time they didn’t have enclosed cock-pits, which obviously mean that flying at altitude was subjecting them to cold and harsh weather conditions. Leather was utilised due to its toughness and inherent warmth, with key features of the bomber jacket including high wraparound collars, ribbed cuffs and waists, with some being lined in either shearling or fur.
Many of these distinctive features are still present in modern versions of the leather bomber. Fur and shearling collar version are available and have both been major texture trends for 2011/2012, but the key identifiers include a cropped fit that is usually cuffed at both the sleeves and the waist. In the past this kept the heat in and the pilots warm – for you it means a snug fit that is in keeping with the slim, tailored cut that defines the 21st century male.
As you can see below, traditional colour ways come in brown and black. These will last you for years and will never date or go out of style – they transcend fleeting trends and looks. For those looking for more trend led pieces or simply wanting to increase their collection, you could opt for striking coloured varieties, shearling/faux fur lined or simply more traditional military inspired pieces that include epaulettes and multiple utilitarian pockets:
As mentioned previously, the leather bomber jacket has an understated appeal that suits a wide variety of looks and styles. It is the ultimate throw on and go jacket – meaning it can offer something new to any of your existing outfits.
Whether you are pairing it with a shirt and tie, a simple t-shirt or on-trend knitwear, when layered over the top it naturally adds an edge without you having to try. This is why the leather jacket has always been associated with the true men’s style icons – it exudes effortless cool which defines their personal style and overall aura.
In addition, the leather jacket is not limited by season. It is hard wearing and warm enough for layering over the top in the harsher autumn/winter weather, whilst it will also cope with the unpredictable spring rain showers and brisk mornings when thrown over the top of a simple tee or polo shirt. This makes it a great transitional piece, and something you can get daily use out of for the majority of the year.
The lookbook below showcases the bomber jacket to its fullest. It is is paired with everything from shirts, ties and smart trousers to lightweight knitwear, Breton striped tees and casual Oxford shirts. It adapts to the outfit and never seems out of place within any look – a true chameleon piece.
So how should YOU wear it? Well that very much depends on your personal style. Below I have created a 3 very different example outfits that showcases the bomber jackets desired versatility.
This outfit was inspired by the lookbook above [2nd row centre] and our recent article on dressing in your thirties. Riviera chic has been identified as a look that men of all ages can pull off, as it always exudes class and confidence. Here we pair classic white jeans with a pastel pink polo shirt (real men can pull off pink you know) in order to channel some of that bold French Riviera style. You could substitute the colour of the polo shirt for any pastel shade (such as blue or yellow) and it would still work when anchored by the trousers and the leather jacket. Alternatively, you could really ram home the underlying influences with a Breton striped top or t-shirt.
I picked a brown leather bomber jacket because it is slightly softer than its black counterpart. It also works extremely well with white and the usual Riviera/Nautical colour palette of blues and reds. It immediately toughens up this particular look, providing a shot or raw masculinity that is desirable when pairing with more feminine pastel tones.
Footwear and accessories have been chosen with the overall look in mind. A blue plaited belt is casual and coordinates well with both the brown leather jacket and pink polo, whilst the loafer/deck shoe hybrid offers some refined casual elegance and sharpens up the look. Wayfarer sunglasses are classic and simply add to the effortless cool aesthetic we have managed to create.
Here we show how the bomber jacket can work within a formal inspired outfit. This time we keep the outfit anchored and smart by picking a dominant black base. Although we chose black jeans, you could easily sub these out for smart wool trousers (or suit trousers) in order to give a ‘dressed down’ look to your workwear or tailoring.
The black Chelsea boots offer something different in comparison to your traditional Derby shoes, whilst at the same time complimenting the black leather bomber. For the shirt and tie combination, we look to introduce some texture and personality via a blue/grey chambray shirt and coordinating red patterned tie respectively. The tie pin is the classic finishing touch that shows attention to detail.
This outfit is the essence of smart-casual and something every man could throw on at the weekend. Camel chinos and an on trend burgundy textured knit (sub out for a polo neck if you wanted something more refined) form the simple but effective base to this outfit, whilst the classic black leather bomber adds an effortless cool and masculine edge.
In terms of footwear you can pick your poison – the casualness of the leather jacket means that trainers, loafers, boots or shoes are all viable options. Make sure you then personalise your outfit through accessories. Masculine chunky jewellery, sunglasses or headwear are all great pieces to integrate into this particular look, just don’t go over the top – try to retain the effortless aesthetic.
The bomber jacket might be trending again this current season, but the leather jacket has never been away. A timeless item that will serve you well for countless years, it is the definition of an investment piece. Its versatility continues to make it a desirable and essential purchase for any modern male. Able to adapt to both casual and formal looks, it will add an edge and some toughness to any of your existing outfits.
The bomber jacket is the perfect style to invest in if you are currently considering your first leather jacket purchase. Understated in design and cuffed in the right places to keep it slim and fitted, it doesn’t shout to get noticed but exudes an effortless cool that makes it easy to wear for both fashion novices and enthusiasts alike.
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