There’s more than a little truth in the notion that men’s wardrobes often centre around practicality. But as an unarguable rule, we’re calling BS. How else do you explain the fact that suede jackets have long been seducing otherwise sensible men to part with their hard earned?
Sure, suede can be a pretty poor adversary for rain, but when equipped with a layer of protective spray, that’s more of a concern rather than a deal breaker. If you look past all of that hand-wringing about water damage, you’ll find that there are a lot of other things to love about the suede jacket.
For starters, it can breezily transition through seasons with the help of some sensible sartorial switch-outs. Then there’s its unrivalled ability to emit low-key luxury vibes without whiffing of a Premiership footballer who’s just received his first pay packet. And if you’ve ever felt a suede jacket’s hypnotic nap under your fingertips, you’ll know that it can give you all of the feels.
Most persuasive, though, is the fact that the suede jacket has found itself on the backs of some of the best-dressed men of all time. “Suede jackets were worn by the icons such as Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, and in recent years, they’ve been rediscovered by modern men too,” says Alex Field, head of menswear design at Reiss. “Not only are suede jackets timeless, but they’re also handy all year around, so there’s never not a good time to take the plunge.”
If you’re swayed by suede but aren’t sure how to get stuck in, fear not, because we’ve considered everything that you need to know about wearing the softest outerwear on the block.
How To Care For A Suede Jacket
Cool as it looks on a jacket, as any man who has endured the brutal experience of staining suede will know, the struggle to revive a piece to its former glory can often feel like trying to nail jelly to a wall.
In layman’s terms, suede is leather which has had its top layer removed to reveal the stupidly-soft fibres (its nap) beneath. This comes with the downside of being thinner and more porous than leather: hence why keeping those uninvited guests at bay can be a challenge.
Luckily, if you can work out the basics of how to operate a spray can, it’s plain sailing from thereon in. Get yourself a dedicated suede protector spray, apply lightly and evenly from six inches away from the surface of the jacket. Allow to dry naturally, then repeat for extra protection. Job = done.
If defences ever fall short and you need to go into damage limitation mode, make sure a suede brush (or a cleaning block for angrier stains) is within reach. Simply pray to the menswear gods while gently brushing with the grain of the jacket’s nap to stand the best chance of giving stubborn marks their marching orders.
If all of this sounds like a bit of a pain in the backside, then a nubuck jacket (which uses sanded down cow’s hide leather) should be your go-to as it’s more resilient than standard-issue suede.
Recommended Brands For Suede Jackets
It turns out that distressed leather jackets aren’t the only luxe outerwear item that AllSaints excels at. Just a brief thumb through the British brand’s rails will also throw up an impressive amount of stylish suede.
You’ll find everything from classic bikers and bombers to more unusual sheaths of suede (think field jackets and even blazers), all of which make the range on offer pretty hard to beat for sheer variety.
Marks And Spencer
If you weren’t already aware of Marks and Spencer’s reputation as one of the best places to head for classic meets contemporary clothing, consider yourself now in on the secret.
It may not be the first place that enters your head when looking for a suede jacket, but after a quick gander at its pared-back and buttery-soft options, it might well just be the last.
After a decent suede jacket at a decent price? Say no more, Mango has got you covered. The current outerwear crop at the Spanish retailer is full of designs we challenge anyone to find fault with.
Expect seventies-inspired colours (think rust and tan) in universally flattering shapes. For you, that means extremely unfavourable odds of buyer’s remorse, which is very good indeed.
We’ve long been infatuated by Oliver Spencer’s suede jackets, and we’re not the only ones. Celebrity fans including David Gandy, Oliver Cheshire and Richard Biedul have all been clad in the British designer’s gear.
Though prices may sit at the top end of the suede spectrum, designs from this menswear heavy hitter promise considered colourways, impossibly soft naps and some of the most timeless cuts ever achieved.
Suede’s production method means that it’s pretty pricey by default. Fortunately for those unable to be reckless with their finances, boohooMAN has plenty of imitation suede jackets with impressively convincing form.
The wallet-friendly etailer specialises in bright as you like colours, so it should be the first destination for those who want their soft outerwear to shout rather than whisper.
Founded in 1941, American brand Coach began life as a family-run workshop specialising in leather goods. So needless to say, shop here and you can expect some of the softest naps known to man.
Microscopic attention to detail, a series of standout collaborations and enough design twists to add ‘Fashion Week-friendly’ to an already impressive CV should be reason enough to justify the price tag.
At the premium end of the high street, the word Reiss is as synonymous with supple suede outerwear as it is sharp suits. As a result, you can be sure that there’ll be plenty of well-cut designs on offer.
For a fail-safe wardrobe addition, opt for one of the brand’s timeless bombers. Alternatively, if you’re in the market for something a bit less ubiquitous, check out one of the many suede trucker jackets, which are guaranteed to layer like a dream.
With more than eight decades of experience in crafting ultra strokable suede jackets, Italian brand Valstar can be considered a safe, but nonetheless solid, shout.
One of the most iconic outerwear names to rise to fame in Milan, you’ll find plenty of diverse shapes to rummage through – from bomber jackets to truckers – and there’s practically no stone left unturned when it comes to colour either.
Founded in 1979, Hackett has become one of the UK’s best-loved brands for luxury classics. With a wealth of experience in handling the soft stuff, you’re in some of the safest hands imaginable when looking for an investment suede.
Hackett has nailed the blouson style, but any silhouette you pick up is unlikely to bore you over time, so each design is perfect for playing the long game.
We could go on about investment pieces until we’re blue in the face, but for wallet (and whim-) friendly faux suede styles, Zara is hard not to love.
You won’t just find timeless takes on offer here either. The fast-fashion giant has got everything from preppy varsity, borg collar, pastel and padded styles to get stuck into too.
Getting your mitts on suede without paying dearly is no longer out of reach. Topman has done the cash-strapped a massive favour by offering genuine suede options for less than the cost of a night out.
The high-street hero ticks off fail-safe options that every man should add to his line-up, while for those keen to have a crack at Americana, fringed designs provide the opportunity to take stateside statement-making anywhere.
As anyone lucky enough to get within spitting distance of a piece crafted by the world-renowned label will know, there’s suede, and then there’s Saint Laurent suede.
Just as the Parisian design house can lay claim to creating the ultimate suede Chelsea boot, suede jackets here are every bit as awe-inspiring. Whether you go traditional in tan, or rock ‘n’ roll in black, a Saint Laurent suede jacket is the nearest thing you’re likely to get to wearable happiness.