Perfect leather jackets do not exist in stores. Not even in Acne and Balenciaga. It doesn’t work like that. This phrase has been invented by internet pundits to make you buy the ones they affiliate linked. You need to find one that you like and fits right, and then hope that it becomes perfect over time. I would go ahead and say, “new jackets look ugly and pretentious”. The more worn in, the more they mould to your body, the more familiar they get, the more beating they take, the more perfect they get. When you have figured out how to wear them with silks and t shirts alike, you have found it. Some don’t and get abandoned. Some age and become heirloom pieces.
The design constraints
When we first started dating, my husband told me he wanted a jacket with epaulets since he was a child. He had seen something in a war documentary and it stayed with him. He rejected so many good ones till he found the one that he remembered from his childhood. It took us 4 years. Most of his garments have a certain nostalgia attached to them. I call this the art of being picky. Else you are buying everything that is almost there but catches your fancy. And these are the pieces that get abandoned when a more perfect version comes along. Being picky is for folks who have grown into their personal style. This coupled with quality control tamed my acquisition habits. A leather jacket stays with you for decades. Its important for me to get it right. Else, I would have broken into one after years of wear only to abandon it for whatever reason.
oh Zara, Oh !
No one forgets their first real leather jacket. I am lucky to have mine become perfect over the last three years of wear. It validated all of my illusions – the idea of badass, the toughness, the warmth, the comfort, the style, a piece of biker culture that I am a part of, a garment that earns me motorcycle waves when on the street, a garment that pairs well with everything, …. My black leather jacket is from Zara’s premium line. It was purchased during my days when my education of quality was lacking. Its aging fast but I am glad that it has lot more years left in it. While I am supposed to hate fast fashion stores, I love my jacket.
Then, there is the eBay.
I ordered this vintage burgundy leather jacket from an eBay seller who offers returns. When I requested a return, he offered to refund half the money if I kept it. I was more impulsive back in the day and this sort of thing worked on me. I regretted it for a few years and then grew into it. Color jackets are a little tricky. It doesn’t get as much wear as the black one but its alright … I try to wear it as much as I can, during the gray days. The quality of this is impeccable and I expect it to last forever. The black one is a more fitted one. This one is huge and layers well over sweaters. A few years from now, I plan to get it dyed black.
How to wear one.
Not outfits ! We don’t need lessons on how to wear our favourite garments. Least of all, leather jackets. You throw one on and it pairs with everything ! (Applies to trench coats too). Its appropriate for playing with the dogs or for going to a speakeasy in downtown SF with your friends. For bike rides and for some warmth in the lab. But the attitude and the posture has to be learnt. Caroline De Margaret does it well. Claire Marshall does it well.
Shopping Guide ?
Instead of me linking a few that I like, how about we all make up our mind on the design constraints ? Do you like that tiny pocket in the front ? How much drape do you want ? How much silver hardware can you jacket take before it becomes tacky ? How much of the original Scotts perfecto’s detail should yours keep ? Do you like futuristic looking plain jackets ? …. My formulae involves take a few years of hunting to find one. And then wear it forever ? I don’t like anything I currently see in the market. Sad but true.
Age Appropriate ?
I keep getting told that there is an expiration to how long I can wear my jackets. I am a 30 year old and happy about it. Whenever I hear 21 year olds freaking out about turning 22, I want to slap them. Its going to be wonderful. More knowledge, more experiences, more stories, more money, more independence, more wisdom, more style, more opinions, more attitude, more confidence, ….. comes with age. I think there is a leather jacket for everyone without an age cut-off. I plan to wear my jackets until I look like a prune. And maybe after, paired with Valentino Rockstuds and Yohji Yamamoto’s trousers.
Modern Heirlooms ?
My mother gave me her pearls. I don’t know what to do with them. But her book of recipes, a treasure indeed ! My fathers Ray Ban aviators from the 80s, yes ! My grandpas shawl, yes ! Greatgrandma’s books, yes please. I wish someone gave me a leather jacket from the 70s and told me all the stories from the days it was worn. I plan to save mine and shove them down the backs of my nieces and future daughters.
A love letter
I see so many jackets in the market and cant seem to admire them beyond their quality. I got mine sorted and needn’t look. The Rick Owens is drapey. The Balenciaga ones are too strong in the collar-lapel department. The Celine ones are rather masculine. The Acne ones have all those silver buttons and silly buckles along with a silly little pocket in the front. … Being as picky as I am, I am glad to have found mine. Wine, leather and my husband – do get better with age.
P.s : I used the term ‘you’ through out this post as a figure of speech. We all have our own idea of perfect garment. If you wear a leather jacket, do share your tales of what makes it perfect. Is it a certain detail ? A certain design ? Its history ? A familiarity ?Certain leather ? Certain memory ? Certain designer ? I would love to have a conversation.
Part 4 : Notes of Quality : Leather Jacket Edition. ( coming up next spring )
Part 5 : Reader Leather Stores ( coming up, when I gather enough comments )