There are two scenarios in which you’re wearing a leather jacket: you are a middle-aged dad wearing a boxy leather jacket you got at the mall (we’re looking at you, Wilsons Leather) OR you’re a bad ass James Dean type, hopping off a motorcycle with a cigarette dangling out of your mouth.
You hope that you look more like James Dean than a suburban dad, but we’re thinking you want a look that falls somewhere in the middle. You want to look cool but you don’t want to look like a guy that’s trying to look cool. It’s a fine line. So, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best leather jackets that will spiff up your look without making you look like you’re a punk with an attitude problem. You’ve outgrown those years, right?
Alpha Industries G-1 Leather Jacket
Alpha Industries has been producing military jackets for the actual US military since the 1960s, so buying a jacket from them is as legit as you’re going to get without actually enlisting. The G-1 jacket was first introduced by the US Navy during WWII and was issued to troops until the late 1970s. This is a more-than-adequate replica, made from premium goatskin leather (available in brown or black) and featuring a mouton fur collar. The knit waistband and cuffs ensure a snug fit while the bi-swing back allows for free range of movement.
Levi’s Vintage Leather Menlo Jacket
Levi’s is a true American heritage brand, producing quality clothing since the late 1880s (and yes, it’s more than just jeans). This 100% buffalo leather jacket has been plucked from the brand’s archives and you should take this opportunity to snatch it up while it’s still available.
Scotch & Soda Leather Biker Jacket
It takes a certain kind of man to be able to pull off a leather biker jacket, but if you’re that kind of guy, check out this offering from Amsterdam-based Scotch & Soda. Sporting the classic silhouette of a biker jacket but simplified for the modern man, the jacket has an asymmetric zippered closure, reinforced shoulders and sleeves, multiple interior and exterior pockets, and a snap button collar. Available in black or burgundy and available at just under $600—this is the perfect “first leather jacket” to add to your rotation.
Orvis G-1 Naval Aviator Flight Jacket
One of the best parts of owning something made of leather—whether it’s a jacket, a wallet, or a good pair of boots—is the natural patina it develops over years of wear. But if you’re the kind of guy that doesn’t have a lot of patience, pick up this jacket from Orvis. Made in the style of the G-1 flight jacket, it looks like it’s got a lot of mileage on it—in a good way. Made from distressed goatskin leather, it has two roomy pockets on the front that snap closed (but also have side entry access), and a genuine wool shearling collar to protect your neck from the elements.
Roland Sands Design JKT LTHR Clash
California-based Roland Sands Design has its feet firmly planted in motorcycle culture, which is why they know how to craft a quality biker jacket. Available in oxblood or black, the jacket is made from full-grain cowhide leather and is rock ‘n’ roll all the way—with a simple snapped Nehru collar, asymmetrical zippers, and quilted shoulders. You’ll look badass in this jacket, whether you’re stepping off of a motorcycle or just walking into a bar.
Nudie Leather Biker Jacket
A Scandinavian brand primarily known for their high-quality denim products, Nudie has created a quality biker jacket that would look just as good with a t-shirt and jeans as it would with a fancier ensemble. Made from 100% genuine leather, the jacket features a classic point collar, and two zipped exterior pockets.
Schott Fitted Motorcycle Jacket
Started on the Lower East Side in 1913 by brothers Irving and Jack Schott, Schott has been producing quality jackets for over 100 years (fun fact to make you laugh and cry: their first jacket sold for a whopping $5.50). They produced bomber jackets for WWII troops, and post-war, everyone from Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones to punk rockers at CBGB were wearing Schott jackets. This jacket is decidedly more Sex Pistols than military-influenced, but that’s okay. With its classic snaps, zippers, buckles, and red plaid interior lining, you have to have attended at least five live punk rock shows to wear this.
Schott A2 Leather Flight Jacket
Another—perhaps more subdued—offering from Schott is this A2 Leather Flight Jacket, which harkens back to the days when they crafted jackets for members of the military. Made of 100% genuine leather and featuring minimal bells and whistles, this is a jacket that you can wear for years, without ever having to have a conversation with yourself about whether or not you can “still pull it off.”
Vince Leather Bomber Jacket
LA-based brand Vince has been around for less than 15 years, but in that short time, they’ve established an apparel brand committed to creating quality essentials that you’d want to wear every day. This blue jacket, made from 100% lamb leather, will stand out against everyone else’s brown and black jackets.
Wallace & Barnes MA-1 Leather Jacket
Out of Wallace & Barnes—J. Crew’s vintage-inspired division—comes this MA-1 leather jacket. The MA-1 jacket was originally designed for high-altitude fighter pilots, but you don’t have to be a flight school graduate to wear this. The slim-fit jacket has a unique standing collar, ribbed trim on the cuffs, and is lined with moisture wicking material to keep you cool when on the go.
J. Crew Leather Flight Jacket
An update on a classic bomber jacket, this Leather Flight Jacket from J. Crew is formal and casual at the same time. The rich brown leather jacket is hand-distressed so that it has a vintage look (and also ensures that no two coast will be exactly alike), and the contrasting gray ribbed cuffs and hem make it look more casual.
Ernest Alexander Balfour Leather Jacket
One of Ernest Alexander’s newest offerings is the Balfour Leather Jacket. Crafted from Italian calfskin leather, the jacket is a study in attention to detail—it has a shearling-lined, adjustable collar, stitched elbow seams for extra cushioning and reinforcement, and extra large, curved pockets designed to keep your hands warm in comfort. Hurry up and snatch one of these up fast—they only made 25.
Aether Eclipse Motorcycle Jacket
LA-based Aether was founded by outdoorsy urban professionals with the desire to make high-performance clothing versatile enough for their everyday lives, and its Eclipse Motorcycle Jacket does exactly that. Made with premium Aniline leather, this is a jacket that was made specifically for motorcycle riders, not just guys who want to look like they ride a motorcycle. The jacket is quilted on the upper torso and also incorporates SPIDI CE-certified armor to the elbows, shoulders, and back for extra protection.
Public School Leather Bomber Jacket
Relatively new, NYC-based Public School is a brand that takes preppy essentials and injects a little more style and swagger into them. This bomber jacket—made out of premium cowhide leather—is roomy and classic, without a lot of flair. That’s up to you.
Rick Owens Slim-Fit Hooded Leather Jacket
Cult brand Rick Owens presents its take on the classic biker jacket with this Slim-Fit Hooded Leather Jacket. Made out of 100% lamb leather from Italy, it adds something you don’t see on most (or any) motorcycle jackets—a hood—which you’ll be glad you have when you’re riding in the rain.