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The Most Popular Leather Jacket Types

November 13, 2018

The Most Popular Leather Jacket Types

Most popular types of leather jackets

Have you decided it’s time to get your first leather jacket? Or are you adding another one to your collection, and you’re having trouble deciding on which style to get?

I’ve been a huge fan of leather jackets for as long as I can remember. My grandfather and father both rode motorcycles, which meant leather jackets were everyday wear for them, and I quickly followed suit. Men in leather jackets always turn heads, but what is the best men's leather jackets?

High-quality high end leather jacket brands names produce expensive leather jackets, but considering how long they will last, it’s worth the money. You just need to make sure you choose styles of leather jackets that works well for you. That’s why I put together this list of the most popular types of leather jackets so you can find your match.

The first time I went into a store and tried to pick out a new leather jacket, I realized that they all looked the same. At first, my instinct was to make a choice based on looks alone. However, a good friend of mine was there to educate me about the many subtle differences between this iconic emblem of the stereotypical American bad-ass. To pay my karmic debt, I wish to pass on what I know to you. In this way, I hope that you can make a better-informed decision regarding this important and expensive purchase. Who makes the best leather jackets? What are top leather jacket brands? What are the different styles of leather jackets? These questions and more will be answered in this guide!

Value:

When choosing good leather jackets, there are a number of different factors that should be considered. While many of the leather jackets that you see in a store might seem very similar, they are often worlds apart regarding quality and workmanship. However, if you do not know what to look for, your choices can seem like a sea of near-identical fish. Here are some things to look for when trying to sort the bad from the good.

The Zipper:

A zipper seems like a fairly unimportant part of the jacket since it doesn't really draw the eye or add anything distinctive to the overall appearance. However, this is what makes the zipper a good barometer of quality. When a manufacturer is trying to cut their manufacturing costs, the little things are always the first to go. This is why cheap jackets tend to have inferior zippers.

Most leather jackets will be made with one of two kinds of zippers. They will normally be either YKK or RiRi zippers. While some people will claim otherwise, it doesn't really matter if the manufacturer chooses one or the other. Some will try to tell you that one is better than the other, but in the end, these are just stylistic differences that have nothing to do with quality. Disregard this factor.

What you want to look at is the sturdiness and reliability of the zipper. Put it on and work the zipper up and down a few times. Does it move smoothly? Does it bind or jam up? How much effort does it take to zip or unzip the jacket? These are all questions that you must ask yourself.

Choose the leather type

Considering Buckskin Or Doeskin:

Deerskin is a relatively cheap alternative for those who want to find the softest leather jacket. In spite of its great suppleness, it is as tough as you could ever want. Many are not aware of this, but the skin of a deer has a unique method of dealing with trauma. When the skin is pierced, it naturally tends to seal itself for easier healing. This is why, sometimes, a deer can take a bullet from a small-caliber gun and keep on running. Anyone who has ever followed the resulting blood trail can tell you that before long, the wound will close up and the trail will be lost. This self-sealing property illustrates the great mix of strength and flexibility that characterize deerskin. However, deerskin is generally much more vulnerable to water damage and staining.

Exotic leather types such as kangaroo and alligator are nice but tend to be very expensive. For the record, you can tell alligator and crocodile skins apart easily because crocodile skins have small dimples on each scale where the hair follicles used to be. As you might imagine, gator or croc skin is like a hard layer of armor due to the bony layers within their skin. While this will provide maximum impact protection (great for cyclists), it would be a poor choice for anyone who needs flexibility or the ability to move quickly and precisely.

Corrected Vs. Uncorrected Leathers:

Now we come to questions of manufacture. The first thing you need to know is the difference between corrected and uncorrected leathers. Uncorrected leathers are made from a single piece of skin and are left with all their natural inclusions and flaws intact. The skin of an animal will never be flawless, mostly because animals will run around and scratch the skin throughout their life. Take a look at the skin of an old elephant if you want a better idea of what I mean.

Corrected leathers are the leathers that almost look fake. They are smooth and even on the surface, and will have a texture that is similar to plastic. While these leathers are not necessarily bad or useless, they do not look as nice as the real thing. You should especially look out for bonded leather, which is aggregated together from various scraps like plywood.

How to rock a leather jacket

Edgy, sophisticated and cool - those are just a few words that may come to mind when you look at someone wearing a leather jacket. Not only is a leather jacket a versatile must-have for every closet, but it's also a classic outerwear staple.

Leather jackets have been popular for years and years, and for good reason. They're great for fall or spring weather, and they're easy to layer on top of hoodies, tees, and more. Adding a timeless leather jacket to your closet will give you so many more options and a way to bring some fresh style to any outfit. However, it can be confusing to figure out which type of leather jacket to get, and what to wear it with. Thankfully, it's simpler than you'd think.

The double rider leather jacket

The Double Rider

If you asked me to pick the type that is most associated with the leather jacket, I’d pick the double rider, and I wouldn’t be the only one. This type of leather jackets is easy to spot, since it sports an asymmetrical front zipper that’s slightly to one side and prominent snap lapels.

The Double Rider was designed as motorcycle wear, which means it’s durable and functional. That and it’s use in popular culture has led to this type of leather jacket being the most rebellious, edgy choice. Arnold Schwarzenegger wore one of these as the titular character in the “Terminator” movie series, and numerous music stars have also chosen these jackets.

Despite the edginess, this is a versatile type of leather jacket. It can instantly elevate a casual outfit or make dressier clothes, such as a long-sleeve button-up, a bit cooler. You probably wouldn’t wear this to a job interview, unless the job was at a biker bar, but other than that you can find plenty of ways to match a Double Rider with the rest of your wardrobe.

The bomber flight jacket

The Bomber

Right up there with the Double Rider in terms of popularity is the Bomber jacket, which has its own iconic style. These are also known as flight jackets because they were worn by pilots in the days of unenclosed cockpits. Because of their intended use, they were designed with warmth in mind. They often have either a fur lining or a fur collar, making them an excellent choice as cold-weather wear. This type of jacket also usually has ribbed cuffs to stay tighter to the wrists and keep heat in. There may also be a placket over the front zipper to deal with high winds.

The Bomber is also a versatile choice that can add to most outfits. It works just as well with t-shirts and jeans as it does with a button-up and a pair of slacks. It’s not nearly as edgy as a Double Rider, making it a good choice if you have a more clean cut style. It can still project a rugged appearance, though, especially once it’s broken in. After all, this was Indiana Jones’ jacket of choice.

One important thing to keep in mind when choosing a Bomber jacket is how warm it will get. A thick fur lining will keep you nice and warm if you live in a cold climate, but if it gets warm where you live, you’ll want to opt for a lighter Bomber.

The moto jacket

The Moto

Now, we’re getting to the types of leather jackets that are still popular, but not quite to the extent of the two above. The Moto, short for motocross and also called the Café Racer, is essentially a stripped-down motorcycle jacket. There won’t be nearly as many zippers, and instead of flaps, this type of jacket may have a small collar. The reason for the minimalist design is that these leather jackets were made for racers, who needed a jacket that offered protection but didn’t add much drag at high speeds.

The minimalism of this type of leather jacket gives it a more contemporary style, and it’s less edgy than the more popular types of leather jacket. This makes it more appropriate for formal occasions. The Moto jacket is best in warm to slightly cool weather because of how light it is. Since it contours to your form quite a bit, it’s best to avoid wearing it with more than a light layer underneath.

The fencer leather jacket

The Fencing Jacket

The Fencing Jacket is modeled after the jackets worn by fencers when they compete. This type of leather jacket is unique for its zipper, which is very asymmetrical. If you saw the zipper of the Double Rider jacket and thought they should have taken it a step further, then the Fencing Jacket is for you.

High-end designers are typically the ones who offer Fencing Jackets. This is one of the more unique leather jacket looks, and it isn’t nearly as versatile as the more popular styles. This is a jacket that makes a statement when you wear it. For that reason, it’s better as a type of leather jacket that you add to your existing collection. If you’re shopping for your first one, it’s better to go with one of the more versatile options that you’ll get to wear more frequently.

The leather trench coat

Other Types of Leather Jackets

The four options listed about are the most popular leather jacket types, but there are others available. These other types can vary in popularity depending on the current trends.

The leather peacoat was a popular choice for a few years. These only work with dressy outfits and not as casual wear. It’s usually better to go with a standard wool peacoat, which is more versatile.

The Varsity jacket is popular among the younger crowd, although these often aren’t all leather. They can work well as casual wear, but not in professional settings.

The “Matrix” movies made the leather trench coat somewhat popular. That being said, these are definitely a fashion statement and don’t work as casual or professional wear. If you want to stand out, you’re probably better off with a Fencing Jacket.


Now you have an idea of the most popular leather jacket types on the market. While a large part of deciding on a leather jacket is how you think the jackets look, you can narrow down your options by figuring out which style fits what you want. If you've ever struggled to identify the style of leather jacket that will best suit your own individual je ne sais quoi, don't worry, you're not alone. Don't be afraid to take your style up a notch-just make sure you're doing it your way. Let's learn how to choose a leather jacket based on your personality type.

What You Will Need to Shop the Right Options:

  • A firm understanding of your personal style. Is looking polished at the top of your to-do list, or are you more concerned with evoking supreme masculinity? Do you want to be ready to hop on a motorcycle and drive off into the night at the drop of a hat (or at least look the part)? Thinking of the rest of your wardrobe can aid in finding the perfect jacket to complement your attire and will allow you to purchase a coat that is perfect for everyday use.
  • A little knowledge about your body type. Do you have a short torso and want to make it look longer? Do you prefer short jackets that draw a little more attention to your lower half? Although this may seem like a silly consideration, part of dressing well is dressing your own body, and sometimes that's not the look you see on the mannequin. Take a look at duds you already own that make you look as good as you feel, and don't be afraid to tailor your purchase to your own form!
  • A basic idea of your price point. Purchasing a leather jacket is a serious investment, but due to the longevity of the material and the quintessential style, you're not going to have to replace it anytime soon. Still, with prices that commonly range between $100-$400 and beyond, you're going to want to choose the style that's right for you and your pocketbook. Don't stress out, because there are choices at nearly every level, so you're sure to find what works best for you.
Leather jacket

Take it All Step by Step:

  1. Get your style matching your personality to a T.

Before you hit the stores in search of the perfect leather jacket, the most important thing to do is examine the clothes you already own. If you're the type of guy who hangs out in a flannel shirt and work boots, the classic bomber jacket may be just right for you, as it has embodied the "everyman" for centuries. If you like a cuff-sleeved tee and a pair of dark shades, you might be interested in the double rider, which is designed to accompany you on any late-night adventures you have planned. If you're a buttoned-up type that runs from the boardroom to the banquet hall, a moto jacket might be just the ticket, giving a classy upgrade to a basic blazer. That's not to say that these rules can't be broken, but taking the basics of your own taste into consideration will make your leather jacket more versatile, giving you more bang for your buck and letting you look great while you do it.

 

  1. Identify the type of your own body.

Sure, personality is important when you're buying new clothes, but so is the shape of your frame! Generally speaking, you either have a short torso and long legs, or a long torso and short legs. If you fall into the former category, a jacket that goes just beyond your beltline can work to balance your frame, giving the illusion of a longer mid-section. Conversely, to balance a powerful torso and shorter legs, keeping your leather jacket ending right at your waist is an easy way to do just that. This will draw the eye upward, and build up your physique with or without a trip to the gym. Dressing sharp is a great way to keep all eyes on you, so it's a good idea to remember this basic rule of thumb.

 

  1. Figure out how much coin you want to drop.

It's one thing to have found the leather jacket that fits like it was made specifically for you, but if you do all that work only to check the price tag and find that it's outside of your reach, it can be a huge letdown. If your bank account is telling you to keep it on the low end of things, brands like L.L. Bean and Michael Kors may be able to give you what you crave without busting your budget. Got a dime to spend? Keep your eyes peeled for choices from ASOS, GAP, and Marc New York by Andrew Marc. These brands have their finger on the pulse of fashion and are sure to have the right jacket for you, right now. Whatever choice you make, you can be sure that genuine leather is meant to last through whatever life throws at you. Pro tip: if you're embracing the cruelty-free life, check Armani Exchange and John Varvatos for some excellent vegan leather options.

Leather Jacket Confidence

So you’ve finally decided it’s time to update your wardrobe—but what could you choose as the ultimate fashion statement? If you’re truly ready to try something bold and different, then the leather jacket is just for you.

But don’t be fooled by their simplicity—there’s a whole lot you need to know about this material before buying your first piece. I can tell you from personal experience that following these 4 simple steps can make or break your jacket.

The 4 keys to finding the right type of leather are durability, quality workmanship, leather types, and fashion nuances. Collectively, these represent the essential factors to look for. Within each step, there are extra details that prove why choosing the right leather can be challenging, but also so fulfilling.

Types of leather

1: Durability

Durability is usually a good sign of a leather jacket’s quality. In some cases, a well-made, well-sourced piece can last you a lifetime—with proper maintenance.

There are general tendencies for leather from a larger animal to result in denser fabrics. Do not sacrifice quality for a “good deal”—cheapness will cost you in the end.

A leather jacket is like buying a car: you invest lots of time into researching it and, once it’s bought, you expect it to last for many years. Durability is an essential factor in determining whether the piece is worth your money and reputation. Leather is more than just clothing—it’s a fashion statement.

PRO-TIP: You should also take into account that prices will vary depending on the fabric’s quality. Durability is often dependent on the animal from which the leather was sourced. Sourcing is nuanced by the differences from one producer to the next and is not necessarily limited by country of origin or industry regulations.

Leather qualities

2: Workmanship

Every leather jacket is a work of art. It’s a process that involves human hands, stretching, tanning, and piecing together elements into a finished product.

The workmanship that goes into different types of leather is invaluable. Some features to look for in a quality piece include clean seams, smooth surfaces, and consistent colors.

There are nuances here that, in many ways, cannot be measured conventionally. The care and craftsmanship poured into this process is what separates standard materials from all the rest. The tanning process alone requires many years of experiencing. Simply put, a great deal of the cost and prestige of leather comes from the hands perfecting it. Whereas other industry-standard fabrics are machine-processed, more high-quality leathers should have a significant human interaction component. Otherwise, machine-manufacturing often lacks the nuance and delicacy to match artisan skill and attention to detail.

3: Leather Subtypes

Leather can be derived from a number of different sources and each one provides unique aesthetic and physical appeals. Some of the most popular sources include bison, cowhide, deerskin, lambskin, and goatskin.

Bison is known for its patterns resembling grain. Although it has the durability and quality of so many other subtypes, it has a more elegant visual appeal.

Cowhide is very similar to bison though it lacks the grain-surface design. It is the most common type of leather available, mainly because of its affordability.

Deerskin is particularly unique since its animal source is quite different from other common options. Complimented by both density and durability, it is used regularly for jackets, but also purses and gloves.

PRO-TIP: If softness if your top priority, then lambskin is the choice for you. Gentle to the touch, it is ideal for comfort yet remains a respectable amount of durability.

With goatskin, you’re getting the “best of all worlds”: durable, soft, and flexible, it also improves in comfort as it ages.

4: Fashion Nuances

The devil is definitely in the details when it comes to choosing the right type of leather. You’ll want to consider things like fit, trimmings, and linings. In these subtle areas, the difference between mediocre and magnificent is found.

Fitting is a critical part that varies from one type of leather to another. One example of this would be any elasticity between the leather and a zipper. There is a necessary element of functionality required in a good jacket. Meeting this level of comfort, however, requires proper fitting.

Zippers should feel durable yet noninvasive; any sense of discomfort caused by a restrictive binding could be a sign of poor tailoring.

PRO-TIP: Another consideration is how much the leather fitting compliments your personal body shape. Certain leathers improve the design outcome of a jacket better than others. Trying it on before purchase is necessary, along with regards for sleeve length and centerline width.

Leather jacket details

Choosing the right type of leather for your needs is easy once you’ve figured out the steps. Durability is one of the first features to look for because it indicates the fabric’ quality. There are many origin sources—some low-grade, others high—which can affect quality.

Fashion nuances cannot be overlooked—these finishing touches will make the leather shine—literally and figuratively! From fittings to trimmings and even the type of zipper, this is integral for choosing the right leather.


PHYSICAL - The Admiral Moto

PHYSICAL - The Suede Double Rider

PHYSICAL - The Technical Bomber

What to wear with it

Even though a leather jacket is a stylish choice of outerwear, even the best leather jackets can look unflattering if it's worn with the wrong shoes or jeans. Treating the jacket as the central part of your outfit is a wise choice - think of the rest of your outfit as complementary to the jacket.

Slim, well-fitting jeans and a t-shirt are great when paired with almost any leather jacket. Black leather boots or a pair of stylish sneakers are good choices, and derby shoes also pair well with a leather jacket.

If you're worried about color in your outfit, you shouldn't hesitate to add a subtle pop of color or a pattern. A printed button-down shirt or a colored tee can look great with a leather jacket, as long as the rest of your outfit matches. Think monochromatic: sticking to mostly black, white, and gray is always a safe choice. And you can still spice it up with a colored or patterned shirt. Overall, the key is to be sure to stick to neutrals, black and white, and avoid anything that draws too much attention. The jacket should be the most eye-catching part of your outfit.

Perfect leather jacket

What’s the best way to wear leather jackets and rugged boots?

The best look for you makes you feel comfortable. Try any of the following looks to find the right look or looks for you.

Outdoorsy look: Pair the Mount Wilson Bomber Jacket from the Timberland Moto collection with the line’s Echo Lake brown leather side zip boots. Wear a polo shirt and sweater beneath with khakis for a hiker’s outdoorsy look.

Collegiate look: Wear Timberland’s Tenon Leather Field Jacket in Cocoa with a white or gray ribbed t-shirt and dark jeans. Finish the look with the Brewstah side zip boots for a US college campus style.

Biker look: You can channel your inner James Dean with a black leather biker jacket paired with blue jeans rolled up at the ankle just once and a crisp, white t-shirt beneath. Finish the look with black biker boots. Try to find a vintage Schott Perfecto jacket for a classic look.

Punk/rocker look: Copy The Ramones’ look by pairing a few modern pieces. A solid black bomber jacket or a black biker jacket with multiple front zippers works for this look. Wear a solid black short or long sleeved t-shirt underneath. This look works with black or blue jeans. Pair it with combat boots or Doc Martens.

Dressy look: Pair a suit coat styled black or dark brown jacket with a Chelsea boot, popularized in the 1960s by The Beatles. Wear it with khaki or black trousers to match the jacket. A button up dress shirt in crisp white cotton or in a high grade silk works well under the coat.

Versatile leather jacket look

 

Your look is not only skin-deep; it directly impacts the way that you feel when you're out there taking on the world, and when it really counts, you want your appearance to match the handsome chap you feel you are on the inside. Confidence is key, and now that you have the fundamentals for selecting the perfect leather jacket, all that's left to do is get shopping and get the look you're after. Check out the best men's leather jacket brands, find the trendy mens leather jackets and see what suits you the most. Are you feeling excited and ready to step it up when you're stepping out? Be sure to leave your comments below, and share this article with any strapping lad you think could use a little help.


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