Leather garments have that special ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, but it’s important to remember that not all leather is made equal. There are good reasons why jacket prices vary so greatly, so let’s review a few here.
How Should A Leather Jacket Fit?
Many people overlook the main element of fashion, which is fit. Regardless of material, how well a garment is suited to your personal style is the most important aspect in determining how well it will look on you. It’s important to try on different sizes and fits to see which one best complements your body type.
First, you should consider the shoulder area. It may seem complicated, but just be sure that your shoulder stitching ends at, or only slightly beyond your shoulder bone. If not, the jacket will look and feel either too tight or too loose, which may be uncomfortable and keep you from looking your best.
The second thing to check is the sleeve length. The general rule is that when you lift your arms, you shouldn’t see much skin beyond your watch area. With your arms down, the sleeve should never extend more than halfway between your wrist and thumb, or it’s too long. After that, we should look at is the torso. Of course, different styles of jackets will have different types of lengths, most styles, like a regular bomber jacket, you should expect to end near the top of your front pants pocket.
Finally, armhole size plays a role, although this one tends to be more of a designer’s choice than a fit choice. Most prefer a smaller armhole because it is going to have an increased range of motion. You’re going to be moving around this jacket all day so you should go for something that will provide for that. They are likely to have much less of a generic “off-the-rack” regular type of look while maintaining a more tailored style. This goes quite a way to achieving the custom-made look with any type of jacket, Taking advantage of any of these tips will also make it look like you spent a lot more money on an outfit than you actually did.
Which Leather Type Should You Choose?
The source and quality of the leather are other major elements to consider. The two main distinctions are found in which animal they come from and from which part of the skin. Most jackets you’ll find are going to be either goatskin or cowskin.
Goat leather tends to be the softer of the two. Cow leather, while much easier to break in, it’s also subject to stain a bit more easily. Both kinds of leather are generally split into two parts, with the top half being leather and the bottom considered suede. The layers that are closer to the surface of the skin are the more durable parts so the leather. Inner suede is not as shiny, but it’s super durable and really soft, and of course the most delicate.
There’s also the distinction between full-grain leather and genuine leather. The full-grain is the outermost layer of the skin and will tend to be the most durable and water-resistant, but it’s also going to show any scarring from the animal. It may not look as uniform as genuine as it varies slightly from full-grain leather. Since it’s processed, it may even have multiple layers bonded together, but style choices are always a preference.
Stitching should be consistent, so try to be sure it’s going in a single direction, there are no loose threads and the stitching pattern is as small as possible. The smaller stitching pattern usually means the more durable the stitch. You will find that many lower-end fashion brands will display inconsistent stitching, a sure sign that the jacket is not going to hold up very well.
Inside the jacket, the first thing to check should be the lining. Some jackets have linings made with half flannel and half synthetic materials, but most higher-quality jackets will avoid that. Instead, they will use cotton or natural fibers, while most low-end jackets still use all synthetic. Synthetic is acceptable, but always review your label so you know what you’re getting.
With the higher-end jackets, manufacturers will take the time to put extra detailing on the inside, something most people won’t even notice because they want to provide that luxury feel. Fast-fashion brands or lower-end designers usually won’t put in this extra effort.
You can also check for adjusters. Sometimes the sleeves will have zippers or snap buttons on the cuff, which not only add to the style but are also very functional. Since leather tends to keep you warm, you can also look for things like venting under the armpit. Test any zippers and buttons to make sure that the zippers go up and down smoothly and feel strong. Jackets usually have thicker buttons and thicker zippers, which are way more durable.
If your jacket has sewn-in buttons, then ensure it has a backing. Some jackets have their regular buttons sewn onto the jacket itself buttons or are sewn onto another button. A backing will provide extra protection and help your buttons stay on a lot longer.
Pricing is not Everything
It’s always best to consider all the features above since there are so many factors that can affect the price. Some retailers will mark up items just because of the brand name, with no regard for the actual quality. And just because something is on sale, does not mean it is a good deal (though sometimes it is!). Just be patient in your search and pick the best jacket for your style and budget. One of the best things about leather jackets tends to be their timeless designs. This gives you an advantage while shopping, since you may be able to find “older” styles which match your look perfectly. And don’t be afraid of slightly-used/gently worn jackets. The quality endures and being comfortable with your purchase will always be the most important thing.
Your jacket is a valuable part of your wardrobe and should be treated as such. Pay attention to the manufacturer’s label for details with regard to special care like waterproofing and conditioning.
- Do your best to keep your jacket dry. If it does get wet, be sure to hang it out to dry well immediately, before putting it away.
- Always hang your jacket correctly. Never leave your jacket folded for a long period of time, as this can encourage creases and cracks in the leather. Instead, hang it on a wide, preferably padded hanger in a well ventilated closet — never in the sunlight, as that can quickly discolor the jacket. This is particularly important for suede. Try to never store your jacket on a wire hanger as that can create unwanted lines, and don’t cram it in a closet.
- Avoid heat as it tends to dry out your jacket and can cause leather to become brittle and crack.
- Use a leather conditioner. Leather will always naturally lose some of it moisture, but using a reputable leather conditioner on finished leather will prolong its life.
- Don’t clean at home. Unless you have the experience or aren’t worried about causing irreparable harm to your leather jacket, you should not try to clean it at home. Even if the label says that you can use a washing machine, it’s really not a risk you want to take.