The enduring leather jacket is often a tricky piece. It needn't be this way
Leather jackets, in the wrong hands, can be a style disaster: a little bit silver-convertible with-cream-leather-interiors, a little bit "Mum's not coming back, Dad". Get it right, though, and it's a counter-culture classic that packs the right sort of cool. And that's why we're here.
Instead of James May, you can be James Dean. Less Brent, more Brando. You can make colleagues and compatriots alike murmur "he's actually pulling it off". We're going to show you how to make that happen.
The term 'leather jacket' usually conjures a specific style: the 'biker'. You know the sort. Typified by a cropped fit, this classic piece boasts wide lapels that attach to the jacket with popper, and a cross-body zip. But this isn't the only option.
There are cafe racers (same cropped fit, but no collar and a straight zip). You can consider the leather bomber too, or perhaps the Del Boy daddy itself: the shearling coat.
Know your style and fit
Whatever style you land on, fit is vital. Cafe racers and bombers best suit a close, slim shape, while bikers and shearling can equally benefit from a slim or a slightly oversized fit, season and personal style depending.
But most importantly, leave room for layers. You should be able to fit at least a sweatshirt below, while also making great pains to avoid pieces dropping below the belt line (unless it's shearling, which can fall a little lower).
If you're on a budget, buy vintage
Don't try and skimp on a leather jacket: it's a false economy. Cheap, shiny, imitation leather will only clinch a job with your local market trader (or, perhaps, a backing dancer slot on Eurovision). Likelihood is it won't last either.
By its very nature, leather is expensive. So if you can't afford that Saint Laurent grail piece just yet (keep wishing, keep hoping), then it's best to stick to mid-tier brands. Or pay a visit to as many vintage shops as possible. There's quality to be had, and the majority are simply gathering dust in forgotten corners of Zone 4. It'll be worth the train ride.
Success depends on the wider outfit
Even the most beautiful and best-fitting leather jacket can be sullied by a poor outfit elsewhere. Bootcut jeans and square toe shoes will do that quicker than you can say 'BMW X5'. Tan brogues are off limits too.
Instead, treat the jacket as the centrifugal force of the entire outfit: every other piece should compliment, as opposed to distract.
Makes sense, then, to settle for monochrome leather. Straight leg jeans, minimalist trainers, thick-soled derbies or a very, very subtle slither of colour or print will all make for happy bedfellows.
Don't get cocky
You've mastered the basics. Bravo. That doesn't mean you should let your newfound leather love beat into outerwear at large.
A blazer is a blazer and should not be made of leather. A trench coat is a trench coat and should not be made out of leather. Not unless your name's Neo. And even then, he certainly wasn't our Chosen One.