The bomber jacket, like a lot of the clothing we wear (peacoats, chinos, etc.) has its roots in the military. The U.S. Air Force created the MA-1 bomber in the Jet Age, when high-altitude flying made the leather flight jacket obsolete; turns out, sweat freezes at 36,000 feet. So out went the natural materials, and in came new-fangled synthetics like nylon and polyester. The bright orange lining was added later so that pilots could flip the jackets around, making it easier for rescuers to locate them after a crash.
Since it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be using your bomber at Mach 1 or require a sea rescue, we suggest the Ryan Crisp Cotton bomber from Norse Projects out of Copenhagen (buy it now, $279 from End). It’s a stripped-down version of the classic that has the look and feel of a bomber without being bulky. The water-resistant cotton-nylon blend is perfect for crisp spring days, but the jacket is light enough to get you well into summer. And unlike the traditional bomber, the cuffs aren’t fully elastic, so they make for a cleaner sleeve line and don’t cling to your wrists.
The Ryan jacket comes in a few different colors, like navy and a dark olive, but our favorite is marginal blue — a striking blue-gray — that has a cool, spring/summer vibe. Bonus: There’s no chance that you’ll be mistaken for a skinhead, even if you do go full Mr. Clean in summer.