Men had been wrapping themselves in animal skins for centuries before World War I fighter aces devised the leather jacket as a way to combat freezing temperatures at high altitude. Over the years, the pilot's necessity became a mark of rebellion for bikers and a statement piece for ascendant rock stars.
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These days, a leather jacket is no longer a specific signifier, which means that every man can have one and wear it every day – it is, after all, one of the most versatile pieces of outerwear available. Throw it over a T-shirt and or dress it up with a tie. The options are myriad and it's hard not to look slick.
Still, with countless menswear companies making hundreds of different models in a variety of cuts, actually buying a leather jacket can be quite complicated. But it doesn't have to be. Follow these steps to find a jacket that will fit your torso and your personality.
Choose a color.
The key with color is to keep it simple and stick to the classics.
Light Brown: Light brown jackets are most commonly found in the field (on roguish thirties-era archeologists) and on the plains. Part of the point of this type of coat is the range of colors that come out as the sun, rain, and grease take their toll. If you wear cowboy boots frequently, this is probably the way to go.
Deep Brown: The advantage of a darker color that isn't black is that your jacket will more likely match your shoes and look better if you decide to wear a pastel-colored button-down. But you shouldn't be worrying too much about matching your shoes (or even your belt). The best reason to go with brown instead of black is that you are naturally a bit intense looking – dark hair, deep set eyes, and thick beards can exacerbate this issue – and you don't want to frighten people. Brown is a bit more suburban.
Black: The key advantage of the black leather jacket is that it looks like a black leather jacket, which happens to be one of those great American staples. If you live in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles and stay out late, default to noir.
Red: Three men have looked great in red leather. Unfortunately, Michael Jackson and Freddy Mercury are dead. If you're 'Fight Club'-era Brad Pitt, go for it.
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