What Should You Wear With A Leather Jacket?

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What Should You Wear With A Leather Jacket?

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge

29 August 2023

Every man reaches a point in his personal style journey when he asks himself the inevitable question: can I pull off a leather jacket? Most, sadly, will conclude that the answer is no. Not because of what a leather jacket looks like or how it feels to wear, but because of something altogether less tangible, what it represents.

The leather jacket, you see, is weighed down. And not just by the natural heft of its material, but by decades of association with daredevils, bad boys and rock stars. Just look at the style icons who have worn one in the past: Mr Marlon Brando’s rebellious biker in The Wild One; punk-rock pioneers Ramones; Mr Steve McQueen as a swashbuckling WWII hero in The Great Escape. What have you done, Dave from Surrey who works in accounting, to count yourself among their number?

Here’s the thing, though. While leather jackets might seem intimidating at first, they make a great deal more sense as soon as you put one on. They’re incredibly comfortable, they age beautifully and they’re far more versatile than you might think. And to prove the last of those points, we’ve used them as the foundation for three distinct outfits, each as stylish as the last.

The Perfecto. An asymmetrically zipped leather jacket complete with an array of rivets, poppers, zips and other details such as belt loops and epaulettes, this style of leather jacket was invented by Schott in 1928 and popularised by Marlon Brando, who wore one in his iconic appearance in 1953’s The Wild One.

Arguably the quintessential biker jacket, its modern proponents include the Parisian luxury brand SAINT LAURENT, whose take on the style is slimmer and altogether more urbane than the original while retaining much of its old-school charm.

The trick here – as tends to be the case with any statement piece – is to keep the rest of the outfit subdued. We’ve done so here with an understated combo of hoodie, jeans and adidas Originals sneakers accessorised with a tote bag and baseball cap – plus a couple of the small concessions to rock-star style in the form of a pair of bold black sunglasses from Jacques Marie Mage and a silver signet ring by Tom Wood.

Perhaps because of their inherent cost, leather and suede jackets have become a regular staple of luxury designers such as TOM FORD, who have elevated them from rugged to refined through the application of ultra-premium materials and smart finishing touches.

There’s one key thing to remember when donning a piece of such supreme quality as this nubuck-leather flight jacket, which is that you are in essence setting the bar for the rest of your outfit. You can’t very well rock a TOM FORD suede jacket with beaten-up jeans. We’ve opted instead for a pair of pinstripe trousers from Brunello Cucinelli, a shirt from The Row, and Derby shoes from the well-respected Northampton shoemaker Tricker’s.

The accessories strike a similar tone, with a briefcase from Berluti in a beautifully burnished brown leather and a watch from Bell & Ross with a copper-coloured dial echoing the colours of the rest of the look.

Less obvious than the two previously featured leather jackets, the car coat – a mid-length, straight-cut jacket that first became popular in the 1960s and 1970s – has been picking up a lot of traction with contemporary designers in recent seasons. This oversized one from the Dublin-born, London-based designer Ms Simone Rocha, whose sophomore menswear season launched on MR PORTER just last month, is a particularly fine example.

The sheer volume of this leather jacket lends it a dramatic silhouette that we think works best as part of a dressed-up, after-dark look, so we’ve styled it here with a bleached-denim shirt from Korean brand JiyongKim worn open over a vest, a pair of smartly tailored black trousers from Acne Studios, and patent-leather penny loafers from Maison Margiela. A few smartly chosen accessories and some standout jewellery – a silver chain necklace affixed with a heart-shaped charm, again from Acne Studios – provide the finishing touch.