by Sarah Makhluf
Sarah is a freelance content writer from Boston, MA. She loves traveling, fashion, and the beach.
Disclaimer: All photos courtesy of IMDB.com
Tom Cruise probably didn't think movie-goers would be hunting down replicas of his film costume, but that's just what happened when his 1986 hit, 'Top Gun,’ was released in theaters.
Audiences worldwide went crazy for the main character's signature leather jacket.
Code-named "Maverick," Tom's character, Pete Mitchell, plays the lead role as a young daredevil Navy-pilot specialist who was accepted into the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (SFTI program), AKA, TOPGUN. The Miramar Elite Fighter School began as the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, established on March 3, 1969, at the former Naval Air Station Miramar in San Diego, California. This real-life location served as the setting for the entire film.
As the impulsive pilot competes with the best of the best to win the prestigious Top Gun Trophy, we (the audience) get to experience all the ups, downs, and twists of the film, like Goose! If you know, you know. But that's enough about the plot. We're here to talk about Pete Maverick's leather jacket. Although, if you haven't seen the film, it's a classic. Beware, if you watch it, you're probably going to be in the market for a new leather jacket and pair of Ray-Ban Aviators. I can't say we didn't warn you!
If you've seen Top Gun, it's hard not to notice Maverick's brown G-1 flight jacket with the patches and fur-lined collar. It's one of the most famous leather jackets in movie history, right up there with Marlon Brando's Schott Leather Jacket in the movie The Wild One and the Matrix Leather Trench Coat. The bomber jacket Tom Cruise wore throughout the film was a classic replication of the jackets actual United States Navy's elite fighters wore. Maverick's jacket had a total of 17 naval patches and the USN Anchor pin on the right front pocket. G-1 flight jackets have been regulation issue gear to pilots of the United States Navy since 1938. Maverick's leather jacket perfectly represented what Navy and Marine Corps flight crews would have worn during the most heroic air battles in history. The jacket was tailored to early 60s specifications, complete with a matching dark brown fur-lined collar. The original G-1 US Navy jackets had bi-swing backs and underarm gussets for easier mobility, and single entry button down flap pockets. They were often made using warm and durable sheepskin. While we can't say for sure what type of leather Tom wore in the film, it's safe to say the movie's costume designer opted for leather that perfectly captured the vintage-inspired jacket.
Top Gun fashion isn't just for the guys. Aside from Kelly McGillis's killer mom jeans and her quintessential 80s hairdo, her character, Charlotte 'Charlie' Blackwood, also had some great leather moments during the film. Case in point, her black loose-fitting bomber jacket with the USS Quincy CA-71 Task Force patch on the arm. Throughout the film, Charlie played the flying school's astrophysics instructor and often wore her bomber jacket with jeans or a black skirt and heels. Charlie's leather jacket served as an inspiration for other women to give a classic bomber leather jacket a try. Designers often look to past eras to create "new" styles. Women's leather bomber jackets are still relatively popular today!
Like we mentioned above, Top Gun inspired men and women to change up their looks - even if it was just for a night on Halloween. But costumes aside, more people were buying bomber jackets, aviator sunglasses, and some of the world's top brands began producing fashion-forward jumpsuits. The biggest shift, though, was in leather jackets. Before the film, G-1 flight jackets (or jackets that resemble them) were generally worn by anyone that wasn't in the military. Much like how Marlon Brando made it mainstream for non-bikers to wear motorcycle jackets, Tom Cruise mainstreamed bomber jackets.
It's pretty hard to believe we watched Tom Cruise as Maverick, Val Kilmer as Iceman, and Kelly McGillis as Charlie 34 years ago! What's even harder to imagine is that retailers are still pumping out Top Gun Halloween costumes every year, bomber jackets never went out of style, and Maverick's iconic wardrobe piece is nevertheless inspiring today's fashion designers. When the movie came out in the mid-80s, most of the styles were baggier and loose-fitted compared to what we have today. The Top Gun jacket fit in perfectly with the era of big jeans and even bigger hair. Maverick's leather jacket has definitely proven the test of time, though. Online outfitters are retailing Top Gun-style jackets and even exact replicas for upwards of $800. There has been an active market for this particular jacket for the last three decades, which is pretty incredible if you think about it!
Not only is Tom Cruise's leather jacket still in style, Top Gun's sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, is set to hit theatres later this year. The film stars Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, and Val Kilmer. Cruise and Kilmer reprise their roles from the first film. The upcoming action drama film was initially scheduled for release on July 12, 2019, but was delayed twice. Once for production work and the other due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not sure about you all, but we can't wait to see if Maverick's original leather jacket will be in the film or if a new updated one will take its place.
You don't have to be Tom Cruise to look great in a Top Gun jacket. There are tons of near-perfect replicas of iconic brown flight jackets all over the internet. However, if you're going for a Top Gun vibe without going full-on Maverick, there are plenty of options to still buy a similar jacket without the patches.
If a Top Gun inspired leather jacket is something you're considering or any other type of leather jacket, you may want to think about having one custom made. Most guys have a hard time finding the perfect fit. Standard sizing in men's clothing is usually S-XL or XS-XXL, depending on where you shop. Men who don't fall into a standard size often have to exclusively shop at specialty stores that carry extended sizes - meaning options are slim.
Not sure if a custom leather jacket is right for you? Before you make a purchase, there are a couple of things to consider. Going custom means having full creative control over your jacket. You get to choose everything from the style and fit down to the minor details like the stitching and zipper color. If you're still on the fence about having a leather jacket custom made, check out the pros down below.
Having a leather jacket makes getting dressed effortless. Throw a great leather jacket on with any pair of paints, and your outfit is instantly complete. If you're thinking about investing in a leather jacket, whether it's off the rack or custom made, you're going to want to know how to keep it looking its best. Taking a few easy steps to care for your new leather jacket properly will prolong its lifespan and make your investment all the more worthwhile!
Cleaning Leather: The first rule of cleaning your leather jacket is NOT to put it in the washing machine. This will immediately damage the leather. You can use a simple mixture of water and a bar of mild soap (or even baby shampoo) instead to spot clean any minor stains. Gently dip a washcloth in the soap solution and blot out any stains on the exterior of your leather jacket. Dry the damp spots with a clean cloth and let the jacket air dry.
Cleaning Leather Jacket Lining:If the inside of your leather jacket looks dirty, has an unpleasant smell, or just needs a little freshening up, you can easily clean the lining with a couple of ingredients you probably already have at home. Mix warm water with a laundry detergent that's designed for use on delicate fabrics. You can spot clean the interior of your jacket using a damp cloth and the mild detergent mixture. Hang your jacket inside out until it's completely dry.
Storing Leather: What do you do with your leather jackets when you're not wearing them? Never throw your coat in a ball on the floor, on the bed, or that one chair we all have in our house that used to be a computer chair but now is a collect-all for miscellaneous clothing. Keep your leather jackets stored in a cool, dry place on the hanger. It's a good idea to grab an inexpensive garment bag to keep your jacket in throughout the summer during the warmer months. Keep it hanging up in the back of your closet, and it will be good to go as soon as the fall air starts rolling in.
Thanks so much for reading! This article was a blast to write. I hope you all enjoyed it. Have you guys seen the film? Let us know in the comments below if you think Maverick's leather jacket still stands the test of time or if it will be replaced by a newer, updated version of the G-1 flight jacket. Please pass this article along to any other movie buffs and leather jacket lovers if you think they'll enjoy it!
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