Whether you’re the kind of guy who meticulously plans his outfits or you prefer to improvise based on whatever isn’t buried in your hamper, there’s one article of clothing that’ll guarantee a sartorial confidence boost: the leather jacket (though a kickass pair of boots is definitely a close second).
With a leather jacket, the mundane experiences of everyday life suddenly become moments to remember. You’ll be swaggering down the street instead of strolling, sidling up to the bar for a top-shelf cocktail instead of the usual swill, and everyone around you will be thinking, “Who is that?” Let’s call it “the Fonz effect.”
There’s no season better suited to a leather jacket than the cooler autumn and winter months. But finding one online within budget that’s still made from quality leather can be difficult. Thankfully, Men’s Journal has sifted through dozens of the newest drops in leather jackets to zero in on the best pieces. Our wishlist hits on a variety of forms and variations, from bombers to truckers, that fit any type of occasion, and highlights the details that make them stand out from the pack.
The only decision left is “black, brown, or perhaps something more colorful?”
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The 15 Best Leather Jackets for Men
Schott makes the quintessential leather moto jacket, and in no small part — they designed the first motorcycle jacket for Harley Davidson. The brand’s been doing it the same way since the 1920s, which means this hardy leather jacket is still manufactured in the US. It has a cotton plaid lining on the inside and asymmetrical zips on the outside for storage. The jacket is an extra slim fit, so don’t feel weird about going up one or even two sizes, depending on how you prefer to wear your jackets.
Adding a killer leather jacket to your wardrobe doesn’t have to entail draining your bank account. Wilsons’ timeless Justin bomber is a premium leather jacket that’ll last a lifetime—and won’t cost you a fortune. It comes in five different colors (including a striking shade of blue), and over the years, it’ll fade and gain character the more you wear it. The Justin comes in gray and four other colors, including black and two types of brown.
Boasting clean lines and minimal accoutrements, Vince’s bomber is an everyday go-to that’s truly versatile: Wear it over a white T-shirt and jeans on a chilly fall day, or pair it with an Oxford button-down for a Friday night on the town. This is a solid example of a sporty leather jacket that can do no wrong in our book.
Lucky indeed. This suede goat leather jacket has a great fit, classic styling, and comes in at a modest price. It features trucker the perineal trucker jacket silhouette, a cropped blouson fit, metal buttons, and flap pockets on the chest. The jacket’s muted gray color gives it a modern edge, while the simple styling makes it easy to dress up or down.
For guys who never want to get rid of their skinny jeans, there’s always AllSaints. The brand sticks to what it does best, but that’s hardly a complaint when it’s done so well. The Wick jacket is a classic version of a premium moto jacket, coming in at a more affordable price than Schott’s moto jackets.
A 100% Italian calf suede jacket sounds expensive, and normally it would be. But by streaming its supply chain, Quince is able to offer an impressively affordable take on the suede trucker. Available in several stylish colors, this jacket has snap buttons, chest and hand pockets, and a soft lining. And just because it’s affordable, that doesn’t mean Quince cut corners. The leather used for this jacket is tanned in a Leather Working Group-certified tannery, reducing the use of water and harsh chemicals in the tanning process.
Todd Snyder excels at designing menswear that any guy can pull off a couple steps above any mall brand. The brand’s leather Dylan jacket is a sleek take on the classic trucker jacket, featuring snap buttons and slightly oversized chest pockets. The Italian leather boasts a burnished finish for a slightly lived-in look. The Dylan jacket is one of Snyder’s key pieces; it’s available season after season, often in several colors. Currently, black and olive leather are on offer, as well as several shades of suede. Good luck picking just one.
Golden Bear is the West Coast’s answer to New York brands like Schott. Both brands boast made-in-America manufacturing with over a century in business, but Golden Bear brings a laid-back, easygoing sensibility. Take this shirt jacket, made in collaboration with Flint and Tinder. It’s made in the US from luxurious brown suede and features a button-front placket. The roomy chest pockets are ideal for storing the shades you’ll need for sunny days ahead.
A cafe racer, named for the sporty, customized bikes that originated in Britain, is a slick alternative to the traditional moto jacket. Rag & Bone’s take on the style is as simple as they come, featuring a straight zip front and button collar. Extraneous details like zip pockets are swapped out in favor of a clean, minimalist silhouette. Another advantage of the simple design is that, without the extra straps and buckles, you won’t sound like Santa’s sleigh every time you shift in your seat.
Nordstrom’s house brands have some sleeper hits, including this affordable bomber jacket cut from genuine leather. The affordable cost and streamlined design make it an excellent option for dipping your toe into the leather jacket waters before pulling the trigger on a finer piece. It’s a lighter-weight cut for year-round wear, and it features zippered hand pockets for secure storage.
Valstar is the kind of “IYKYK” brand that menswear-heads love. Founded in Milan in 1911, Valstar played a pivotal role in turning flight jackets into menswear classics. Their Valstarino jacket is based on the American A1 flight jacket, but finished in supple suede, making it a refined alternative to the rugged look of military jackets. This Italian goat suede jacket features ribbing on the collar, hem, and cuffs for comfort and warmth.
Aside from their work in the motorcycle scene, the legendary brand’s other styles are well worth a look, too. Inspired by workwear, Schott’s Mechanic’s Jacket is constructed with sturdy-yet-supple hand-buffed nubuck for superior style. It features a blue cotton chambray lining for added comfort, and details like a goatskin leather contrast collar and metal donut shank buttons really make it a standout.
Black and brown aren’t the only options when it comes to buying a leather jacket. Paul Smith imbues this traditional jacket with his signature sense of fun. A pink suede jacket may sound bold, and it is, but the blush shade and classic fit make for a surprisingly wearable piece. It’s designed in a chore jacket style, featuring four open patch pockets on the front of the jacket. But don’t let the work jacket moniker fool you; this jacket is all about play.
Frye is one of the oldest American clothing brands. While they’re best known for their great western and work boots for men, they also offer limited, but high-quality apparel like this bomber jacket, which is made from genuine leather with a faux shearling collar. The double zip design adds versatility as does the removable collar, making it an excellent jacket for fall, winter, and spring.
[$479 (was $599); nordstrom.com]
Can the best leather jacket be, well, not leather? For those who live the vegan lifestyle, a faux leather jacket is a must, and right now, Levi’s is throwing down with their Varsity Faux Leather Bomber Jacket.
Considered a slim fit, this bomber keeps all the great qualities of its genuine leather counterparts without dragging the cow into the conversation. It features two side snap pockets, a bicep zip pocket, and cloth ribbing at the openings to lock in heat. It’s hard to do it much better than Levi’s this season in the faux department.