No other outerwear item matches the attitude and versatility of a leather jacket. Perfect for every family member, the leather jacket can go with everything from jeans to cashmere and last for years. Take proper care by storing leather on a sturdy hanger coat hanger and wipe off spills and dirt immediately.
The leather jacket shows up on virtually every wardrobe must-have list, and with good reason. It’s a piece that comes in a variety of styles and shapes so it can suit many figures, it works for women of nearly all ages, and it is always, ALWAYS in style. A great leather jacket lends instant edge to any outfit, and only looks better as it ages.
But finding your personal perfect leather jacket can be challenging, especially if what appeals to your eye doesn’t work for your body or budget.
So if you’re on the hunt and striking out, here are some helpful hints that can lead you to your ideal leather jacket quicker.
Set a reasonable budget
When it comes to leather, you definitely get what you pay for, so don’t expect to land a buttery soft, beautifully constructed one for $75. A well-made leather jacket purchased new from a department store will generally run you $250 to $300, while designer versions and specialty jackets can cost up to $3,000.
If you’re in the market for a new leather jacket, make sure you can actually afford one.
Expect to pay about $250 for a good leather jacket. After the first of October, many U.S. retailers drop their prices on outerwear to drive sales. So what’s really a bargain? It depends on whether you are going for a pricey investment jacket to last for years (where upwards of $500 is a steal divided by years of use) or a trendy piece to last one season (like a faux shearling for less than $75).
If you’re lusting for leather but dead broke, there are workarounds. You will always be able to find leather jackets in thrift and consignment stores for less; Just be sure to check them for damage before purchasing, and choose a style that looks current. eBay has some great prices on used and past-season jackets, and you can always hit up the outlet mall. Also consider faux leather, which tends to be more affordable. There are some gorgeous pleathers out there now that will pass for the real thing, but you should still be prepared to spend about $100 on a decent one.
Does the Type of Leather Matter?
If your budget allows it, splurge on a fashion statement leather jacket. Choose from shiny, retro-feel blazers, sleek motorcross designs or long trenches. Some of the hottest trends in leather are actually flattering; longer coats add height and slim the body; zippers and button-front plackets add visual height as well.
Beyond basic leather, distressed, waxed and embossed pieces (to imitate croc, snake or alligator) all add fashion flash to an ordinary hide. You can also choose metallics or bright dyes for even more glitz. Hides can be treated to make nubuck (buffing the hair side for a velvety finish) or suede (buffing the flesh side).
Consider style and shape
Motorcycle or biker style jackets – with asymmetric zippers and oversized lapels – may be eternally chic, but they’re also heavy and boxy.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy one, it just means you shouldn’t expect it to show off your waistline. Drape-front leather jackets are lovely to look at on their own, but tend to add bulk to the wearer’s figure. When you’re envisioning your ideal jacket, ask yourself how you want it to fit and if it should show off any specific parts of your figure.
You want a style and shape that appeal to your eye but also work for your body.
Try on with layers
Leather jackets can be snug in the sleeves and shoulders on many women, and it can be tempting to tell yourself that you’ll just wear that gorgeous cognac scuba jacket with tank tops so it doesn’t squeeze your bits. But don’t. Try on leather jackets wearing the type of layers you’d typically wear underneath a leather jacket in real life. If it’s going to be a fall coat for you, that may mean sweaters. If you plan to wear it more like a blazer, you can stick to thinner tops. Just don’t kid yourself into thinking a jacket fits you if it really only fits you naked.
Speaking of fit, here’s what to look for:
- Shoulder seams should hit right where your shoulders begin to curve downward
- Sleeves should hit at the first joint of your thumb when you’re standing up with arms at your sides
- You should be able to zip the jacket, regardless of what you’re wearing underneath it
If you want to fudge that last one, you can, but at least pick a jacket that looks like it mightbe able to zip if you wanted it to.
Go versatile and timeless
You can never go wrong with a moto, but leather blazers and quilted-detail scuba jackets will date eventually. If you want this jacket to last for decades, bypass grays, reds, and novelty colors for a versatile neutral like black or cognac. Select a relatively plain style with subtle hardware and a simple neckline. Remember that leather is always easier to care for than suede, and choose a design that works well with your wardrobe and lifestyle. (Meaning if you’re a heels and retro dresses gal, a floor-sweeping Matrix-inspired coat might look a bit odd.)