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Choosing The Right Fitted Leather Jacket - A Complete Guide

April 01, 2019

Choosing The Right Fitted Leather Jacket - A Complete Guide

by Sarah Makhluf

Sarah is a freelance content writer from Boston, MA. She loves traveling, fashion, and the beach.


Are you shopping for your first leather jacket? So much goes into choosing the right leather jacket, what color to get and which style will look best on you, but what might be the most important is the fit. Remember: you wear clothes, the clothes don’t wear you. A leather jacket is a timeless piece of clothing and should be a one-time investment, but if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s like money down the drain. Your jacket should fit like a glove and look like it was tailored only for you. Follow this guide to help you with your shopping journey and be rest assured, that perfect leather jacket is out there waiting for you.

 

What will you find:

  • How to start looking for your first leather jacket
  • Where to buy leather jackets
  • How to guide on sizing and measurements
  • How have the fit of leather jackets evolved over the years

Where to begin?

Let’s begin with choosing which style will look best on you. With no shortage of leather jacket styles to chose from, how do you know which one will suit you best? From classic styles to more modern ones, picking the right one for your body type can be overwhelming. Below are the top 3 most common leather jacket styles. Follow this easy guide to find your best fit.

 

The double rider - Made famous by Marlon Brando, the double rider has that “bad boy” vibe we know and love about a good leather jacket. This jacket should hit you right at your waist, making it an excellent choice for those who are tall or short. Just be sure to get your correct size, so it hits you in the right place.

 

The bomber - The waist length leather coat was initially manufactured for flight crew members and is one of the most common styles today. This jacket is best for those who want to keep warm, and the best part is that they look great on any body type. However, if you are looking for something that is slimming, this style isn't for you. Usually, bomber jackets don’t hug your body like the other styles on this list and leave you with extra room to layer underneath.

 

The racer- This one is the dressiest of all the options due to its sleek and minimal design. Those who want a slim fit on their leather jackets should consider the racer. This jacket is made to fit somewhat tight and does not leave much space between you and your jacket.

Buying your first leather jacket

What to consider when buying leather?

Good quality leather will have that specific smell and feel we all know and love. There is nothing like that sweet natural smell of a good leather jacket. Use your nose to test the quality; if a jacket has a plastic or artificial fragrance to it, I would steer clear. Your new jacket should have a bit of stretch to it, and ultimately leather jackets are supposed to be comfortable. Your jacket should have a bit of stretch to it, and it will actually become more comfortable over time. Just like breaking in a new pair of shoes, you need to do the same with your leather jacket. When it comes to choosing the right quality for you there are a few things to remember, always look at the type of leather and check what the grade is. Follow this easy guide for the three most common leather grades: 

  • Full-grain leather- Full-grain is at the top of the list, this leather undergoes the least amount of processing, meaning the leather has not been sanded down or buffed. However, top quality comes at a high price; full-grain is the most expensive grade money can buy.
  • Top grain leather- Coming in second is top grain leather. The top layer of this leather has been altered to make it look smooth and uniform. Most of the leather jackets you find on the market today are comprised of top grain.
  • Genuine leather-Genuine leather is a term used for all kinds of leather goods. This one can be a bit tricky because any “real” leather can fall under the genuine category. Genuine falls at the bottom of the list when it comes to quality, but that doesn’t mean there are not plenty of great jackets out there, you may just have to look a bit harder.

How to choose a brand/store

Shopping can take research, time and effort but don’t worry; I did it for you. I have curated a list of my top favorite leather jacket retailers on the web. There are two things to consider here general vs. custom sizing. Remember, retail jackets are made to fit as many body types as possible, so if you are having a hard time finding your perfect one in the store, consider going custom.

 

Schott NYC - They were the makers of the classic “double rider” jacket we talked about above. Since 1913, Schott NYC has been producing some of the best leather jackets on the market.

Sizes: S- 2XL

 

Belstaff - Founded in the UK in 1924, Belstaff makes finding your perfect jacket a breeze. They offer timeless classic leather jackets at exceptional quality.

Sizes: S-4XL

 

Overland - Established in 1973, and with a humble beginning, Overland is one of the top leather jacket retailers today. They have a vast variety of styles and leather types to chose from.

Sizes: S-3XL

Custom made leather jacket

Benefits of going custom

Are you on the fence about investing in a custom made jacket? Do you think you will find your perfect jacket off the rack? Here’s what you have to consider: the size, the price, the fit, and how your jacket makes you feel. At the end of the day, if you really want that unique and perfect fit, going custom is what will give it to you. Something I can never stress enough is that a leather jacket should be seen as an investment piece. This is an article of clothing that should last for years to come, no matter of the wear and tear.

Where to buy custom leather jackets

Independence Brothers - The company owned by two brothers provide top quality custom made leather jackets. They realized many of you have outgrown standard sizing and give you the option of having your perfect jacket custom made. Another plus is their customer service; they take pride in providing customers with any help they need along the way.

 

Epaulet Brand- Opening in 2008, the LA-based clothing company makes made to order custom leather jackets. They offer three styles of beautifully crafted custom jackets in a range of different leather types.

How to take your body measurements

Now that we have gone over styles, where to buy, and what type of leather is best for you. Next is measuring yourself to ensure the perfect fit. If you have an extra set of hands here, it will help, but it's not necessary.

What will you need:Just a tape measure

Quick Tip: If you don't have another pair of hands just use a jacket you already own and like the fit of and use that as your guide!

 

Step 1: Chest - To measure your chest stand up straight and relax your arms. Then wrap the tape measure around your upper chest area (you may need an extra set of hands to help you) and jot down the measurement.

Step 2: Shoulder width - The shoulders of your jacket should fit just right, not too tight and not too lose. To do this solo, simply grab a jacket you already know and love the fit of and measure from the right shoulder seam to the left. If you still have your helper have them place the tape measure across your back from one shoulder to the other. Again, write down the number so you won’t forget.

Step 3: Jacket length - Place the tape measure at the top of your shoulder (use a t-shirt seam as your beginning point here) then bring the tape measure down to the very top of your thigh. Write the number down and continue onto the final step.

Step 4: - Sleeve length - Correct sleeve length is crucial when it comes to making your jacket look polished and flawless. Very slightly bend your arm and place your hand on your hip, then measure starting at the center back of your neck all along the way along your arm to your wrist.

How to take your own measurements

How to find your size (US)

Height (inch)

Chest width (inch)

US size

65 - 67

67 - 68

36 - 38

38 - 40

S

M

68 - 69

40 - 42

L

69 - 70

42 - 44

L

70 - 71

44 - 45

XL

How should your leather jacket fit and feel?

I think one of the most common mishaps men have when buying a leather jacket is going to big. While your jacket shouldn’t be skin tight, going a size up from your true size can make you look boxy. Make sure your jacket fits a bit snug through your shoulders, and through your chest and waist. If you are in between two sizes, I recommend going with the smaller one because if you are buying a good quality leather jacket, it will expand over time. Leather jackets can’t really be taken it or altered at a tailor, so you want to be sure you get the size right the first time. The sleeves should hit right at where your wrist starts to bend, and a quick tip to remember about the length is to make sure your jacket hits right about where your belt loops are. So, what to remember? Go for a snug but comfortable fit, don’t size up, and always know your leather jackets should almost feel like a second skin.

PHYSICAL - The Admiral Moto

PHYSICAL - The Suede Double Rider

PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber

How has the iconic black leather jacket changed over the years?

Leather jackets have been “cool” for almost a century. What other pieces of clothing have stood the test of time as well as classic leather jackets? Can’t think of anything? Neither can I.

The fit has changed somewhat over the years and with new technologies in the last century, the options today are almost endless. Modern fit jackets have a slimmer cut and fit closer to the body. The fit you should get depends on your body type and what exactly you are buying your leather jacket for? Is this a piece to add sophistication and class to your wardrobe or are you looking to keep warm in the harsh winter months?

 

Double rider jacket:

Let’s take the “double rider” as an example. This jacket’s shape is timeless and flattering on a lot of body types. This jacket is made to hit at your waist, meaning it should hit you where your belt loops on your pants or jeans are. The great thing about the double rider is that it can be appropriate for anything if you are looking to dress it up finding a slim fit double rider is your best option. Slim fit means there will not be a lot of extra fabric, so if you are looking for a jacket to keep warm, I suggest going with a classic fit so you can wear another heavy layer underneath. The shoulder seams should hit you at the point where your shoulder meets your arm, and I can’t stress this enough, make sure the sleeves are not too long.

Leather jacket fit and feel

Final thoughts

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this will help guide you in the right direction in buying your perfect jacket. I know it can seem like a lot, but taking out the time to measure and shop will help you find the right one. As someone who loves fashion and the history behind it, this was a pleasure for me to write. A great leather jacket can amp up your wardrobe like nothing else. If you enjoyed, please leave us a comment below and share with your friends and family. Be sure to check out my last links before you go for more style ideas!

Quick links for more inspiration:

10 best leather jackets for men

Timeless leather jackets


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