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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best men’s leather jackets

When we think about wardrobe essentials for men, a leather jacket is at the top of our list. Long associated with a classic, cool appearance, every man should invest in at least one. They’re stylish enough to dress up, yet somehow laid-back enough to rock with jeans and a T-shirt. Leather jackets are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and designs.

With all the men’s leather jackets to choose from, there are some qualities to look for while you shop. What kind of climate do you live in? If you have a lot of cold months, you might want to invest in a leather jacket with a warm lining. The jacket style, color, and leather it’s made from are also important considerations.

leather jacket for men
Boots and sneakers are particularly flattering worn with a men’s leather jacket.

How to buy the best men’s leather jacket

The leather jacket is a timeless classic

As with many enduring fashion pieces, men’s leather jackets originated out of necessity and utility. The first ones were made and worn during World War I. As aviation became more popular in the early twentieth century, aviators regularly wore flight jackets made of leather. Flight jackets and bomber jackets became even more widespread during World War II.

During the 1950s, American movie stars like Marlon Brando and James Dean popularized the leather motorcycle jacket. The moto jacket became associated with rebellion, danger, and counterculture. The leather jacket has endured through the decades ever since and shows no sign of losing its appeal.

Styles

Popular leather jackets for men are available in a number of different styles. The most common are flight jackets and moto jackets.

Flight jackets were first worn by World War I aviators early in the twentieth century and further popularized in later decades. Flight jackets fall into two categories: bomber jackets and aviator jackets.

  • Aviator jackets, worn by the likes of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, are fitted at the waist and cuffs and have a large collar. More often than not, these jackets are lined with shearling for warmth.
  • Bomber jackets have a simple, universally flattering silhouette. They’re cropped and tapered at the waist and cuffs. The design includes a front zipper and zipped pockets. These jackets can include a simple lining of silk rather than the shearling found in aviator jackets.

Moto jackets, also known as biker jackets, were popularized by motorcyclists in the 1950s. These leather jackets are known for their wide lapels, vertically zippered pockets, and asymmetrical front zipper. Designed specifically for a biker’s needs, the asymmetrical design allows the biker to lean over without the jacket digging into the chest. Some men’s moto jackets have snaps on the lapels, which were originally intended to keep the lapels from flapping in the wind during a ride.

Types of leather

When hunting for the right men’s leather jacket, the type of leather matters. As you search, you’ll likely come across two terms: full-grain leather and top grain leather. What’s the difference?

Full-grain leather: The term refers to leather that’s manufactured from the top layer of an animal hide. This leather includes the natural grain of the hide, which makes it a more durable material that’s less susceptible to cracks and marks. Full-grain leather jackets are usually more expensive than top-grain leather jackets.

Top-grain leather: This is like full grain leather except that the outermost hide layer is removed to leave a thinner, more supple material that can be easily manipulated by manufacturers.

Sources of leather

Cow: Of all the types of animal leather, cow leather is by far the most common. It is quite water and weather resistant. The original moto jackets from the mid-twentieth century were made of cow leather.

Lamb: Another option is lambskin. This leather comes from the skin of young sheep, thus it is supple and incredibly soft to the touch. This is not a great choice to wear in inclement weather, but it’s great for a lightweight mild-weather jacket. Be prepared to pay more for a lambskin leather jacket than for one made of cow leather.

Deer: Like lambskin, deerskin is also soft. It’s more durable than cow leather, however, and more than suitable for jackets, gloves, bags, and shoes. Deerskin is not typically mass produced, and it’s used more for exclusive luxury items.

Goat: Another comfortable option is goatskin. It’s also stretchy and water resistant to a certain degree. Goatskin leather jackets were commonly worn by American military pilots during World War II.

Synthetic: There are many names for synthetic leather: faux leather, pleather, and vegan leather, among others. Regardless of what you call it, synthetic leather is derived from manufactured materials, such as plastics and polymers, rather than animal skin. This is a fine option for those who opt for cruelty-free products or anyone simply looking to save some money. There is quite a range in quality with synthetic leathers. You may find it worthwhile to invest in a high-quality faux leather jacket. It will still cost less than a high-quality cow leather jacket.

A leather jacket that has seen better days can be recycled. Consider turning parts of the jacket into other items, such as a bracelet or belt. You can find lots of ideas online.

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Features to look for in men’s leather jackets

Lining

The lining in the leather jacket matters significantly. It can help determine how to take care of the jacket and the kind of weather the jacket is suitable for. If you plan to wear your leather jacket in chilly temperatures, invest in one with a warm lining. Some excellent options here are wool, fleece, shearling, and faux fur. All these offer a cozy, chic look in addition to keeping you warm.

If cold temperatures aren’t a concern, consider a lining of taffeta, cotton, polyester, silk, or a blend. Of those materials, cotton is by far the most breathable.

Color

These days, leather jackets can be dyed in almost any color imaginable. But if you’re investing in a jacket as a wardrobe staple, try to avoid bright and flashy colors and stick to understated neutrals. Black is always in style, and so are hues of brown, moss green, and beige.

leather jacket for men
DID YOU KNOW?
A men’s leather jacket looks best when it’s fitted rather than too big. For the best fit, measure your chest, shoulder, arm, and torso and choose the appropriate size according to the manufacturer’s size chart. Or you can measure a well-fitting jacket that you currently have.
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How much do men’s leather jackets cost?

Inexpensive

As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Men's leather jackets that cost less than $200 are nearly all made of synthetic leather. That doesn’t mean the jackets aren’t high quality, especially toward the upper end of this price range, but you can’t expect them to have leather’s longevity. Factors like embellishments, lining, and brand will further affect the price.

Mid-range

If you spend $200 to $600, you can increase your options significantly. At this price, you’ll have no trouble finding a high-quality genuine leather jacket. Cowhide will be the most plentiful, but it’s possible to find lambskin and goatskin in this range as well.

Expensive

If you have the means, consider making a major investment. After all, a leather jacket that is properly cared for can last for decades and be passed down to future generations. Full-grain men’s leather jackets and jackets lined with wool, real fur, or sherpa are particularly expensive. So are those manufactured by luxury brands.

Leather jackets stiffen over time. You can keep yours soft with a leather conditioner, which is available as a wax, cream, spray, or liquid. Most retailers who sell leather jackets also sell at least one of these products.

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Tips

  • Take care of your leather jacket. If you have a genuine leather jacket, make your investment last by keeping it dry and away from heat. If the jacket requires more than a simple wipe with a towel to clean, send it to a professional leather cleaner.
  • Have fun styling your leather jacket. With a men’s leather jacket in a neutral color, you can go a little wild with fun graphic T-shirts. Otherwise, a cashmere sweater or button-down shirt can lend some formality to your look. For a cohesive outfit, stick with dark pants in shades of blue or black.
  • Take care of the embellishments too. Moto jackets in particular can have a number of zippers, buckles, and buttons. It’s important to also keep these clean. Wipe them down on occasion with a cloth dampened with warm water and mild soap and dry them with a paper towel. Avoid getting water on other parts of the jacket.
leather jacket for men
Though most vegan leathers are synthetic, not all synthetic leathers are vegan. If you’re vegan, be sure to check the label and manufacturer’s website for more information.

FAQ

Q. Are leather jackets warm?

A. They certainly can be. Leather is heavy and does a good job of blocking the wind. For an even warmer leather jacket, we recommend looking for one with a fleece or sherpa lining.

Q. Is it okay if a leather jacket gets wet?

A. We don’t recommend it. When a wet leather jacket dries, the integrity of the material is compromised. The leather can turn brittle and start to crack and break off. We recommend drying a wet leather jacket as soon as possible by wiping it down with a towel (not by putting it near a heat source). Also, consider waterproofing the jacket with a spray or cream specifically designed for use on leather.

Q. What’s the difference between a men’s leather jacket and a women’s leather jacket?

A. The cut of a man’s leather jacket is tailored for the typical male frame rather than the typical female frame. For example, leather jackets designed for men tend to have a longer body and arms. Stylistic differences may exist in collars and embellishments, too.

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