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Ever since Marlon Brando slipped into his Schott Perfecto in The Wild One, the leather jacket has been synonymous with rebellious style.

“It’s vital to get the fit right though, because leather is incredibly difficult to get altered,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “While it will most likely stretch and mould itself to your body over time, you need to make sure it’s a good fit from day one. And certainly don’t get one that’s oversized.”

The best leather jackets have the roots in motorcycle culture – think the Perfecto, seen here, with its asymmetric zip, or the café racer, which is more streamlined and fastens straight up the middle – and aviation; a leather flight jacket is tougher and more timeless than anything nylon.

“Whatever style you choose, always look for a classic silhouette with minimal detailing,” says Luke. So, no studs, embroidery, or your name across the back in rhinestones. “Then order two sizes to see which fits best. It’s a big purchase so it’s important to get it right.”

Finally, don’t economise. Leather will last a lifetime; pleather will last a few months. If you’re going to invest in leather, you have to commit.

Shoulders

Unlike a suit, the shoulder can come down your upper arm a few inches (so there’s room for layers) but anything higher than your shoulder is too tight. Yes, leather stretches out as you wear it, but it should still have enough room for a sweater to fit underneath.

Sleeves

Much like any other jacket, the sleeves should end at the top of your wrist. Any higher and your layers underneath will poke through. Any lower and you’ll look like you’re yet to grow into your hand-me-downs.

Hem

Leather jackets should end at your belt, no lower. It might feel a little shorter than you’re used to, but that’s better than the alternative. After all, the longer the jacket, the shorter you will look – so if the bottom of your jacket hits below the crotch, you’ll know that it’s too long. “If you look back to the leather jackets of the 1950s, which everyone is referencing when they wear one, they’re quite cropped,” says Luke. “They were designed to be worn on a motorbike.

Chest

Luke suggests erring slightly snugger than you’d buy a coat. “But when you try it on, you should be able to button or zip it all the way up with ease,” he says. “Depending on how you want to wear the jacket, it might be worth trying it with a hoodie or at least a mid-layer underneath. It should feel snug and hug your underarms closely, but without hulking out.”


Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Luke McDonald and Toby Standing