For decades, the leather jacket has been one of menswear’s foundational pieces—something everyone should have in their closet. Look through the annals of men’s style and you’ll find crisp leather jackets almost everywhere you look: glossy magazine articles outlining the essentials for every man; on television, in movies and on stages around the world, worn by icons of men’s style.

There are good reasons for that, too. The right leather jacket lasts years. High-quality leather goods actually get better with age. Like denim, they’re molded by how you wear them; they take the shape of your body, developing quirky details and a beautiful patina, unique to how you’ve lived in them. More important than being physically durable, a good leather jacket stands up to trends—so while it’ll last you decades, it won’t look dated or out of place.

There are leather jackets for every budget and taste. But, as easy as it is to find a great one, it’s not hard to be duped into dud. That makes finding—and investing—in the right jacket important: why settle for a dud, or a series of duds, when one shrewd investment can land you a staple that you’ll wear for years to come… and maybe even pass on to someone else down the line?

The beauty of premium leather jackets is that you don’t really lose anything by not buying them new—the best jackets can be bought second-hand.

The Best Leather Jackets for Men
1. Nonnative “Kip” Double Rider
2. Schott Perfecto 613 Jacket and Perfecto 618 Jacket
3. Lewis Leathers Lightning
4. Balenciaga "Perfecto"
5. Rick Owens "Mollino"
6. Balmain Leather Biker
7. Comme des Garçons x Lewis Leathers Lightning Custom
8. Sophnet. Navy Leather Rider
9. Chrome Hearts "JJ Dean"
10. Undercover "Anatomicouture" Leather Jacket
11. Saint Laurent Paris Leather Teddy Jacket
12. Avirex Shearling Bomber
13. Vanson Racing Jacket
14. Acne Studios Araki Striped Motorcycle Jacket
15. Maison Margiela 5 Zip Black Leather Jacket
16. Takahiro Miyashita TheSoloist. Rough Out Leather Jacket
17. Carol Christian Poell Overlock Scarstitch Jacket
18. Blackmeans Studded Leather Rider
19. A.P.C. Suede Trucker
20. The Real McCoy’s A-2
21. Yohji Yamamoto Painted Leather Jackets
22. Boris Bidjan Saberi J4
23. Belstaff Trialmaster Panther

How to Care for a Leather Jacket

Like anything else you’re planning to keep for years, it’s important to take good care of your leather jacket. You can probably get away without doing much, but, over time, you’ll start to see some wear and tear—like cracking, for example—that isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as what you’d get from a properly cared-for piece.

Avoiding that is pretty straightforward, though. To start, it’s best to keep your jacket out of the rain, so, if it’s pouring outside, you should leave it in the closet. If, however, you get caught in an unexpected drizzle, there’s no need to fret: hang your jacket to dry before putting it back in the closet.

Which brings us to the second key of caring for your jacket: Hang it! Folding leather leads to cracks and creases. Using a wire hanger will lead to deformations. If your jacket doesn’t come with one, it’s worth investing in a wide hanger—either padded or made of wood—that’ll let your jacket keep it’s natural shape.

It’s a good idea to find a leather conditioner that you can apply periodically. In the natural course of things, leather dries out, and a good conditioner can help keep it supple even after years of wear.

Should you need to wash your jacket, the motto is that less is more. Lightly dampen a soft sponge with a mixture of warm water and the faintest hint of soap and dab, not rub, the stain. Let it dry, then apply the conditioner. For any major cleaning, it’s best to bring it to a professional.

How Should a Leather Jacket Fit?

A leather jacket needs to fit right to look good. It sucks to say, but you don’t have as much wiggle room as you might with other pieces in your wardrobe. So, what should you look for?

Somewhere between a shirt jacket (this could be a blazer, a suit jacket or a “shacket” in a pinch) and heavyweight outerwear, the best leather jackets will fit your body comfortably on the shoulders and will fit snug around the underarms (armpits).

The general rule for outerwear is to air on the roomier side in order to accommodate thicker sweaters and layers that will naturally be worn during cooler temperatures. In this case, the classic style is keep a leather jacket a little more fitted; you should be able to wear a lightweight knit underneath your leather jacket, but not a down-filled vest, say.

While there are a variety of different leather jacket silhouettes in the market, some with intentionally elongated or asymmetric cuts, the classic “motorcycle jacket” or leather bomber jacket should land at your waistline—if not right where you would wear a belt.

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