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How To Wear a Vintage Leather Jacket

May 27, 2021

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How To Wear a Vintage Leather Jacket

Leather is like fine wine – it gets better with age. If you’re thinking of buying a leather jacket, you might be better of picking up one pre-loved. Not only will you save a few pennies, you’ll often get a nicer looking jacket out of it. If you’re planning on giving your closet an overhaul post-pandemic, a vintage leather jacket should be top of your list. Whatever your aesthetic is, you can incorporate this fashion staple into your closet. Before you head out and search for your perfect vintage leather jacket, we have a few styling tips that can help inspire your search. We’re also giving you some practical advice on how to find the perfect vintage jacket for you.

The Pros of Vintage Leather


The fashion world is changing. More of us than ever are taking an interest in finding more sustainable alternatives for everyday materials. While leather is a durable fabric, it’s not the best choice for the environment. If you’re a vegan, it’s probably something you try to avoid altogether. Buying vintage leather can help solve a common problem most vegans face.
The majority of faux-leather jackets aren’t made to last, especially if they have a PVC coating. If you want the look of a leather jacket without harming the environment, you can purchase a vintage piece instead. By buying vintage, you save another animal from having to be killed for the leather, while also reducing the amount of clothing going to landfill. While vintage leather isn’t entirely cruelty-free it’s a more sustainable alternative than buying a brand-new leather jacket.
While cruelty-free ‘vegan’ leather jackets can be a little harder to come by, they’re still out there. You may need to dig a little more, but with patience and alerts on your favourite re-sale apps, you should be able to track one down that works for you and your style.

Where To Buy Vintage Leather Jackets


You’re in luck! It’s never been easier to get your hands on a vintage jacket. Only a few years ago, you’d have to search through dozens of stores to find a vintage jacket that works for you. Thanks to the rise of re-sale platforms like Depop, you can find your dream vintage jacket from the comfort of your own home. You can also shop around and find the best deal to save you a little more in the process.
If you’re buying pre-loved, you want to do your research on popular leather jacket brands and understand what to look for in the leather. Not very leather jacket is perfect, and you might notice imperfections that suggest the jacket isn’t entirely leather. You want to make sure you’re not paying the price of a full leather jacket for a blended material.

Finding the Perfect Fit


If you’re shopping online for a vintage leather jacket, it’s a good idea to take your measurements to find the perfect fit. Remember, the perfect fit for a leather jacket is oversized. Put on a chunky sweatshirt and then take your measurements, without holding the tape too close to your body.
A major selling point of the longer calf-length leather jacket is that it makes the perfect addition to your evening wardrobe. You can slip it on over a silk dress for a masculine twist. It’s the jacket you want to pack for your next vacation, when you don’t know if you’re going to end up at a trendy restaurant or sipping cocktails at a casino.

Don’t Forget About the Lining

One thing that is often overlooked when buying (and styling!) vintage leather jackets is the lining. Most older leather jackets have a cotton lining, instead of polyester. It’s this kind of lining that you want to keep an eye out for as it makes your leather jacket more breathable. If you intend to layer your vintage jacket over jumpers and thicker dresses, you want a thinner lining that won’t make you overheat.
If things like the lining are important to you, it’s worth grilling the store owner or online seller to see what they know about your jacket. The majority of independent sellers and stores will do their research before putting a leather jacket up for sale, and they’ll happily pass it on to you if it’ll make you more likely to purchase the item.

Here’s a few styles for you to keep an eye out for that are right on-trend.

The Condition of Your Vintage Leather Jacket


While leather gets more beautiful with age, not everyone is easy on the material. A leather jacket might have some exciting stories to tell, but it could also be beyond repair. There’s a thin line between ‘aged’ and ‘damaged’. You want to avoid buying a jacket that has a crack in the leather, along some imperfections can be repaired. Most rips or flaws in the lining are easy to solve, or you can have the lining replaced entirely, depending on the fabric originally used.
Before you commit to buying your vintage jacket, you want to make sure it’s in a wearable condition. If you’re shopping in store, take the time to have an in-depth look at the jacket, including the pockets and zippers.
Before you set off in search of your leather jacket, you want to consider the type of leather used. If you’re in the market for the real deal, you’ll usually have to choose between full grain or lambskin. While full grain is durable and long-lasting, lambskin is soft to the touch, but more delicate.

Calf-Length Vintage Leather Jacket


Don’t be afraid to experiment with a long calf-length vintage leather jacket. These are often some of the most versatile silhouettes. You can wear it with anything from dresses to jeans and a t-shirt. If you’re shopping around for one, try and buy one that is a size or more bigger than what you need to give you an oversized look. Your leather jacket should be big enough to comfortably fit a few layers underneath, including a sweater.
You can style a calf-length leather jacket as a wrap coat, cinching it in at the waist for a more feminine look. All you need is a pair of sneakers or loafers to finish off your look. This silhouette is a favourite amongst streetwear fans and can give you a more elevated look than a casual waist-length leather jacket.

Car Coat


If you prefer a more masculine look, opt for the ‘car coat’ style. This silhouette is similar to a shorter trench coat, but with a leather finish. It’ll hit the same length as your miniskirts, making it a great choice for anyone who lives in shorts or miniskirts. You can wear this style of vintage jacket with everything from your favourite Dr Martens to dad sandals or loungewear.
When you’re shopping for this silhouette, don’t forget to check in the men’s section. This style is genderless and works for any look. The longer length gives you extra versatility and is an alternative to the calf-length if you tend to wear shorter clothes.

The ‘Shirt’ Jacket


Not every vintage leather jacket looks like a jacket. One of the most popular styles from the 90s is the classic shirt jacket. It’s a button-up that looks just like your go-to shirts. You can wear it like a jacket over anything from a hoodie to a turtleneck. It’s a piece you can each for when you’re not sure what the day may bring. A shirt jacket is a must0have transitional piece that will see you from the first days of spring, right through to the dead of winter.
This vintage leather jacket is another genderless option, so you’ll want to make sure to check the menswear section while shopping for this style. For the added versatile, stick to a classic black colour. It’ll go with everything in your closet.

How to Style Any Vintage Leather Jacket


A vintage leather jacket can be easier to style than you think.
You don’t have to have a closet full of pre-loved pieces to be able to wear every day. With the right accessories, you can take your leather jacket from day to night, as a casual or elevated piece.
One way to add definition to your look is by playing with textures. Add softer pieces, like a cotton shirt or a silk dress, underneath your jacket to make it pop. Denim and leather go hand-in-hand for a casual weekend look. While adding in another texture can help soften your look, you can still wear leather pieces. Dr Martens are the partner in crime for any vintage leather jacket.
Leather is one of the most versatile materials – you can add it to everything from a chiffon dress to a cashmere jumper. It may take some trial and error to find your perfect way of styling your new vintage jacket, but that’s half the fun!


Do you own a vintage leather jacket? Is it on your shopping list? Let us know in the comments below!

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