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.
Try this on.
Created in 1928 by Irving Schott, the Perfecto inherited its name from its inventor's favorite cigar. Since Marlon Brando pulled it on in 1953's 'The Wild One,' that jacket has remained the ultimate symbol of a uniquely American type of rebellion. Trying one on – either at a Schott store or at a motorcycle shop – is a mandatory part of the process of shopping for a leather jacket. If you can pull one off without looking like you're trying out for a Ramones cover band, buy it. If you can't, chalk the failure up to due diligence. [$698; schottnyc.com]
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