A well-chosen leather jacket can be a reliable upgrade to many looks, but ensure it fits well. Leather isn’t very malleable and cannot be adjusted (unless you want to pay a tailor a fortune) so it has to fit from the minute you make the purchase.
A leather jacket or coat is definitely a masculine look and one that will last for decades if correctly looked after, so it is worth spending time and money to find the right one for you.
Broadly speaking leather is casual and not business dress so ensure you wear it with other casual pieces.
As Terence Nolder, fashion designer says: “I see no problem with men over 50 wearing a leather jacket, if you have enough style and have the attitude.
“Wear a pair of black jeans with a black polo shirt, black or grey Converse trainers and a soft leather oversize biker style jacket. It is all about confidence and attitude. Remember 50 is the new 35.”
Investing in quality always pays off; leather pieces are expensive, so need to be viewed as an investment.
Leather has the advantage over other materials too in that it isn’t woven so doesn’t unravel and it is hard to damage. Even Roman soldiers wore leather that still exists today, albeit in museums. Once treated, it is essentially a second skin that is wind and water-resistant.
Photographer Iain Philpott still has his investment leather coat and says: “I have a fab leather coat from Timberland that I bought back in the 80s that I still adore - just timeless and exquisitely made! The coat is luxurious and fits with my lifestyle so I still wear it, though probably not as much as I could.”
Popular styles of leather jackets and coats
Leather bomber jacket
Originally designed for pilots, they are waist length, zipped at the front, with side pockets, a soft lining and cinched waist and sleeves.
Leather biker jacket
Classic American jacket worn by Marlon Brando and a cultural icon since – normally has large lapels, snap closings, front zip at an angle and various buckles.
Leather motocross jacket
Snug and streamlined jacket with a snap collar, warm lining and often in bright colours as they were originally made for racing.
Waxed leather duster coat
Long split-back overcoats in a waxed leather that were made for horsemen and motorcyclists.
What the fashion expert says about wearing leather
Eric Musgrave, menswear writer and author of Sharp Suits:
“Despite their reputation as autumn/winter options, leather jackets will give a lot of wear throughout the year. It all depends on the weight of leather (or suede used) and the construction of the garment.
The heavier the item, the more likely it will be to be worn just in the colder months, but it is important to bear in mind what you might want to wear under the jacket.
Close-fitting styles are less versatile. Leather can be styled into a neat tailored jacket or cut loose to be a comfortable, unstructured zipper. It can be a waist-length bomber jacket or a knee-length coat.
It provides a versatile option but one important point - avoid light-coloured skins unless you enjoy regular and expensive trips to specialist dry-cleaners.”
Best leather jackets to buy this autumn
1. Joe Brown's Black Lysebotn Leather Jacket, £195 debenhams.com
2. Belstaff Archer Biker Jacket, £855, belstaff.co.uk
3. Burton Leather Look Asymmetric Jacket, £75, burton.co.uk
4. Superdry Real Hero Biker Jacket, £200, superdry.com
5. M&S Lightly Padded Leather Jacket, £349, marksandspencer.com
Made-to-measure leather jackets
If you want to invest in a made-to-measure leather jacket, take a look at Scottish company Aero Leathers, which originally started life trading in original WWII flying jackets and vintage US work-wear leather jackets.
Please note: prices and web addresses correct at the time of publication.