How A Men's Leather Jacket Should Fit


The leather jacket is a classic piece of Americana style and has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity among young men. If you’ve recently considered purchasing one for yourself, but aren’t sure if it fits your style or you don’t know where to begin in your search, I’ll offer some suggestions for buying your first or upgrading one already in your collection. You’ll want to consider questions like: Does this fit my personality? Does it work with items I already have in my wardrobe? What does quality look like in a leather jacket? How should it fit? If you can find strong answers for these questions, you’ll be the proud new owner of a terrific piece of menswear.

Choosing Your Leather Jacket

Like other pieces of clothing, leather jackets come in a variety of styles. Consider which one best suits your purposes and intended style. If you prefer a classic, minimalist look, check out the Bomber jacket. This style comes out of WWII from the pilots of bomber planes and if it was cool enough for them, it’s definitely cool enough for you. If you prefer a bit more “edge” in your outfits, pick up a moto-style jacket. This is the James Dean look in Rebel Without a Cause and perfect for the young man with a bit of attitude or punk inspired style. Finally, there are other contemporary styles, like racer jackets, that offer a sleek silhouette, but don’t have a complicated design like the moto-jacket. They won’t have as many zippers or details as the moto-jacket, but they still look timeless and cool. If you can’t decide between the two above, I recommend starting here.

Perfecting the Fit

When buying a leather jacket, the most important thing you must consider is the fit. You could find a beautiful jacket with everything you want, but if it fits poorly on you, the style won’t come off as natural. When trying on the jacket, make sure the shoulders stop at the natural end of your shoulders. If it creeps up towards your neck, it’s too small and if the seam lays on the upper part of your arm, it’s too big. The length should hit right at your waist and the length of the sleeves should end at your wrists. If you find a jacket that fits near-perfectly in a couple of these dimensions but not all, you can actually take it to a tailor to fix any small details. The tailoring will cost more than if you were getting a suit jacket tailored, but the extra work on a piece that will last years is well worth it.


Evaluating Quality

The next most important thing is the quality of the leather. Good leather jackets often run a few hundred dollars so you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. You can buy a cheaper alternative, like fake leather, but it won’t age with the same grace or hold a nice patina like a true leather jacket. Always look at the materials tag to know what kind of leather you’re getting. The best quality, and most expensive, is full-grain. This is leather that has not been treated for blemishes or imperfections but will age the best. Next is top-grain. This is leather that has had marks removed so it is easier for the manufacturer to work with, but it’s also thinner than full-grain. Advantages to this are that stains will not sink in as deep as they would on full-grain and it still has a beautiful look. The bottom-tier leather is anything fused, or “genuine” leather. These are a mix of cuts that have been fused together to make it look like one piece. If price is a large consideration for you, top-grain and genuine leather will suit your style and wallet needs. If you want a jacket that will last for years and years with proper upkeep, full-grain will offer the longest life for a heftier price.

Styling the Jacket

Now that you’ve picked out your perfect jacket, you want to wear it out. I find that a leather jacket is appropriate for the entire spectrum of casual events. Have a date coming up and you want to impress? Wear it. Meeting some friends for drinks at a bar? Wear it. Running errands on a crisp Fall day? Wear it. Just make sure you don’t roll into the office in your slacks and a leather jacket. Leather is casual only. One of the easiest ways to wear the jacket is with a simple T-shirt and jeans. This channels that classic James Dean/Marlon Brando style. Add some boots for what is arguably one of the simplest, yet most masculine outfits around. You can also throw on a collared shirt (but keep it casual, nothing dressy) and chinos for a more dressed-up but still rugged look. A leather jacket also works great with layering in some of the colder months. Take a simple, light hoodie and wear it underneath your jacket for an extra layer of warmth when the temperature drops or when you’re outside enjoying a bonfire with company. You’ll want to make sure you don’t layer too much or else the jacket won’t have that perfectly trim fit.

Pro Tips

Most large fashion stores sell leather jackets but I recommend going to a dedicated leather store. The salespeople there will know more about the jackets, leather, and what you’ll need to keep your jacket looking sharp than someone at a Macy’s. The most valuable shopping experiences I’ve had are ones where I learn something about the product I’m buying, so consider taking the extra time to learn about quality, sourcing, and the overall design of a jacket. It’ll come in handy when you buy your next jacket or leather good. I touched on it briefly, but you can glean good information by simply looking at the materials tag. If it says “100% genuine leather,” then the price will likely reflect that.


Final Thoughts

Leather jackets are a worthy addition to any man’s wardrobe. The two that I own have lasted me for about five years now and they haven’t shown any indication of lost quality. If you do it right and follow the steps above, you’ll have a jacket that lasts you for years or even decades. It may be expensive, but the upgrade to your style and what it personifies will have you collecting compliments from strangers and ladies. If you’ve got any other tips or want to share your own experience with your leather jacket, share them in the comments below!