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Guide to Leather Jackets: 5 Leather Jacket Styles
Technically, a leather jacket is any jacket made of leather, but there are a handful of designs that have dominated the leather jacket market for years.
- Biker jacket: A biker jacket is a style of leather jacket inspired by the kind worn by motorcyclists. Also known as a motorcycle jacket or moto jacket, this classic style features an asymmetrical front zipper, a belt, and snap-down lapels. Originally designed to protect motorcyclists, leather biker jackets became a fashion phenomenon after Marlon Brando wore one in The Wild One (1953).
- Aviator jacket: Also known as a flight jacket or bomber jacket, the aviator jacket is modeled after the brown leather jackets worn by pilots during World Wars I and II. Originally designed to keep military pilots warm, leather bomber jackets feature sheepskin collars, knit cuffs around the waist and wrist, front pockets, and zippers.
- Racing jacket: Leather racing jackets (also known as café racer jackets or scooter jackets) feature a stand collar and a fitted, streamlined design—often with a small zipper pocket on one side of the chest. Inspired by 1960s European motorcycle jacket styles, a racing jacket is the best leather jacket for an unfussy, chic style.
- Blazer: A leather blazer makes quite the statement, especially when paired with matching leather pants. Unlike other leather jackets, blazers don't close all the way—they might have just one or two buttons—so they won't keep you as warm.
- Trucker jacket: Trucker jackets typically feature a point collar and button closures and are traditionally made from denim or canvas. In leather, they look great styled with a plain white T-shirt.
5 Different Types of Leather for Jackets
The best leather jackets start with quality leather. Leather is a material made from the skin of an animal, including lambskin, calfskin, goatskin, cowhide, and deerskin. There are five common types of leather used for clothing.
- Full-grain leather: Full-grain leather is the most durable type of leather. It comes from just below the animal's hair and is slightly moisture-resistant. Full-grain leather ages well, but it may show some imperfections from the animal's skin. Jackets made with full-grain leather tend to be the most expensive, but they’re extremely durable and develop a beautiful patina over time.
- Top-grain leather: Top-grain leather is full-grain leather that has had the very top layer of skin removed, evening out any imperfections but also losing some durability. Jackets made from top-grain leather are less expensive and more uniform in appearance than those made from full-grain leather, and they’re often coated with a protective finish.
- Shearling: Shearling (aka sheepskin) is a material made from the skin and wool of a sheep or lamb that is perfect for lining leather jackets due to its warmth and moisture-wicking properties. Choose a shearling-lined leather jacket if you live in a colder climate and want to wear your jacket in the winter.
- Suede: Suede is a type of leather made from the underside of the animal skin, giving it a soft surface. Suede is usually made from lambskin, but it is also made from other types of animals, including goats, pigs, calves, and deer. Suede is softer, thinner, and not as strong as full-grain, traditional leather. A suede jacket can have a Western or boho vibe.
- Faux leather: Faux leather is a leather-like synthetic material. Though it is less supple and durable than real leather, it is vegan and comes with a smaller price tag.
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