Men’s Leather Jacket Outfit Inspiration: 15 Cool Looks For 2023
Failsafe suggestions on how to wear a leather jacket with the attitude it deserves.
A leather jacket is one of menswear’s most enduring hall-of-fame pieces. Styles have evolved but the category has been a watermark of rebellious style for the best part of a century. To understand the allure, just look at the lore surrounding leather jackets.
Having adorned the shoulders of everyone from Marlon Brando to Ryan Gosling, it’s essentially the leading man of men’s fashion. Countless iconic characters made leather jackets their signature, from the Terminator to Maverick, Han Solo to Indiana Jones. And that’s before we get into the association with motorcycles or music, where its reputation as a frontman’s best friend is undisputed.
For us mortals, they can be harder to wear. A leather jacket is a statement piece and it’ll instantly become the focal point of your look, so choosing wisely (and making sure it fits perfectly) is essential.
From bikers to racers, field jackets to aviators, leather jackets come in many forms, all of them offering their own unique look and feel. Before investing, it’s worth taking some time to find the right one for you. Here, we break down the different styles and types of leather and make failsafe suggestions on how to wear a leather jacket with all the attitude it deserves.
How to wear a leather jacket
Find your leather jacket style
They’re not cheap, so before you buying a leather jacket you should first determine what style you’re after. The most popular silhouette is undoubtedly the biker. Originally designed for motorcyclists, with its asymmetric zip and multiple pockets, it’s a distinctive design and ideal investment piece. A good quality biker jacket will be as cool now as it will be in 40 years’ time.
But that’s just the beginning. Leather aviator jackets come in a number of shapes – from iconic A2 or G1 military jackets to more contemporary, streamlined bomber variations – while there’s also leather field jackets, with their four front pockets and belted waist; racer jackets, with their minimal blouson style; and blazers and trenches for bolder dressers.
Black or brown leather?
Leather jackets come in an array of colours if you look hard enough, but for something wearable and versatile, black or brown are the main choices. Black leather jackets are arguably easier to wear and work as the perfect finishing point for an all-black outfit. Most motorcycle styles are best in black, so if you’re looking for a classic biker jacket, this is the way to go.
Brown leather is more associated with aviator styles such as the A2 or G1 US Air Force designs. Pair these with indigo denim and work boots for a look that tips its cap to both workwear and the golden age of flying.
Pick your hide
The leather itself plays a big part in how your jacket feels and how it ages. For something durable, look for cowhide leather. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, cowhide is tough and takes some breaking in, but it soon becomes a second skin. Tougher still is horsehide, which is practically indestructible and often used to craft high-end motorcycle jackets.
For something soft and supple, lambskin is the way to go. It’s more expensive than cowhide, but lambskin is smooth, lightweight and incredibly comfortable, so if you want a leather jacket that feels smarter and more luxurious, this might be the answer.
Keep it simple
Leather jacket outfits are most effective when they’re simple. The jacket is a statement in itself and will likely be the first thing people see when they notice your outfit. Let it do the talking by toning down the surrounding pieces.
A black biker jacket worn with a grey marl T-shirt, black jeans and high-tops is a classic look, and one that’ll take you from a restaurant to the bar in style.
Don’t forget to match your leathers. That means if you’re wearing a black jacket, combine it with black leather shoes, not brown. Likewise, for brown leather jackets, stick to brown leather elsewhere in your fit, including accessories like belts.
We’re not often peddlers of strict menswear ‘rules’, but black and brown leather really only work together if you know what you’re doing.
Leather jacket outfits for men
Regardless of the style, a leather jacket adds a rugged edge to smart casual outfits. Try pairing one with complementary, mid-grey trousers, a black mock neck jumper and black Derby boots and you’ll be the best dressed one in the office on casual Friday.
Switch it up
Leather jackets are most readily available in either black or dark brown, and for good reason. Colourful leather jackets are incredibly difficult to pull off, but every now and then it doesn’t hurt to experiment.
If you want to push the boat out, try a terracotta coloured jacket paired with a patterned shirt and black trousers. You have to wear it with confidence.
The classic black leather jacket
For a tried-and-tested look, you can’t go wrong with a biker jacket worn with black jeans or trousers, a subtly patterned shirt and black Chelsea boots. It’s part rock ‘n’ roll, part motorcycle gang, and is arguably the easiest way to wear a leather jacket.
The classic leather trucker jacket
Similarly, a leather jacket combined with a T-shirt can rarely fail. Instead of a biker, why not try a leather trucker jacket? Slightly harder to find, leather adds a little panache to this western workwear staple.
The shearling leather jacket
Shearling jackets have plenty of history with aviation, and you dial into some of that when you wear one. Whether you want to reference the pilots of yesteryear or not, shearling jackets are surprisingly easy to wear when you combine them with simple knitwear, corduroy trousers and boots.
Add a bit of colour
Another way to wear a shearling jacket is by adding a splash of colour. This can be done with the top half in the case of a complementary green turtleneck; or down below with indigo denim jeans, which combine perfectly with the brown of the jacket.
The (other) leather motorcycle jacket
There is another motorcycle jacket style, aside from the classic asymmetrical biker and minimal racer designs. This multi-pocketed jacket began life on motocross and off-road trail biking, and was made famous by the likes of Barbour, Belstaff and Steve McQueen.
Keep this masculine style simple and wear one with jeans and boots.
Leather jacket with streetwear
It’s easy to wear a leather jacket with streetwear. The hoodie is your friend here – wear one underneath the jacket to instantly relax the look.
Finish with cut-off jeans and chunky, commando sole boots.
The leather Harrington jacket
A casual staple, the Harrington jacket is traditionally made from cotton. Find one in leather however and it elevates the style, instantly making it smarter and better suited to smart casual looks.
Wear it with a white shirt and pleated trousers for an alternative office look.
Mid-century leather jacket
For a classic look that references the beatnik poets of the 50s, try a leather biker worn with an Oxford shirt, khaki chinos and penny loafers.
The combination of a well-worn leather jacket and smart casual staples is one that works surprisingly well.
The minimal leather bomber
Leather bomber jackets come in many forms, but the easiest to wear has to be the MA-1. Find one in a trim fit without any extraneous detailing and it’ll combine well with other menswear icons including denim shirts, jeans, loafers and tees.
The leather racer jacket
Simple in design and flatteringly slim in fit, the café racer is one of the sleeker and more left-field leather jacket styles. Try dressing one up with charcoal trousers, a black shirt and tassel loafers.
Leather jackets with a turtleneck
As a sort of in-between garment, a turtleneck helps to tie leather jacket outfits together. Neither too smart nor too casual, it is the ideal knitwear companion to a biker jacket and jeans combination, resulting in a perfect first date look.
Sporty leather jackets
While they might be slightly harder to pull off, leather varsity jackets are more than deserving of a place in your outerwear rotation. Often found on the colourful side of the spectrum, look for one that’s relatively minimal and try it with pleated trousers and chunky sneakers for a sportswear-inspired fit.
Mid-brown leather jackets
An underrated colour for a leather jacket, mid-brown is easier to wear than you might think. To pull it off, combine it with a muted palette of black, grey or dark green, and finish with some heavy duty Derby boots.