Whether you aim to appear sophisticated in a leather trench coat, or just a touch rebellious in a biker jacket, you can benefit from knowing how to choose a leather jacket suited to your personal style and budget. After all, a leather jacket is often the most expensive item in a man's wardrobe. Here's how to make sure you invest wisely.
While certain styles of leather jacket stand out in most people's minds, like the bomber and the many-zippered biker jacket, there are more varieties of leather jacket today than ever before. Be sure to choose a style that fits your personality. Are you a cafe racer kind of guy, or a flight jacket kind of guy? Can you pull off wearing the classic biker jacket, or are you better off in a more versatile style, such as the bomber? Think of the style you will ultimately select as an extension of your character.
The rule of thumb with leather jackets and price is, the higher the cost, the better quality the materials. However, it's possible to find quality jackets at a variety of prices, from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. If you have your heart set on a particular brand and style of leather jacket, stay alert for sales. However, it's important to bear in mind that when it comes to purchasing a leather jacket, your investment is just that - money spent on an item of clothing you will wear and enjoy for many years to come.
No matter how impressive your leather jacket is, if it doesn't fit you well, you will make a bad impression. Select a jacket that is relatively snug, but with room for a sweater or other clothing layers, particularly if you live in a colder climate. Make sure the sleeves do not hang below your wrists and that the jacket itself hangs to about waist height. Do your best to choose the right fit from the beginning, as leather is not easily altered. It is best to read customer reviews to help determine what fit is right for you.
The most common types of animal skin used to make leather jackets are cow and lambskin. Although cowhide was once more common, lambskin is becoming increasingly popular due to its suppleness. Generally, cow skin leather jackets cost less than their lambskin counterparts. Some people prefer calfskin, which is durable, yet soft. However, calfskin tends to cost more than either cow or lambskin. There are other types of animal hides used to make leather jackets, including goat, sheep, pig, and more exotic types, including kangaroo and alligator.
Leather jacket manufacturers typically tan their product either by using the chemical chromium sulphate, or by the more traditional vegetable tanning process. The first process is faster and results in weatherproof, evenly colored leather. Vegetable tanning, on the other hand, involves the use of wood bark or other vegetation and results in a more natural looking leather capable of concealing scuffs and scratches, but likely to discolor when wet. If you prefer the latter method, you can treat your jacket with weatherproofing products.
Once you've established the type of leather you want, take a careful look at jacket hardware, including snaps and zippers. Sure, you can replace these items later, but it can be expensive to do so. You are better off opting for quality in the first place. Zippers should work smoothly, without snagging, while snaps should fit together easily with no need to force them.
Low-quality synthetic jacket linings eventually tear and often do not breathe well. Look for a jacket that uses either a high-quality synthetic lining or cotton for the body of the garment. Sleeves are often lined in silk or cupro, a variation on cotton that is light and breathable. Before purchasing a jacket, check the stitching along the lining to ensure it is secure.