Style 101: The Moto Jacket

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What else can you say about the rugged, utterly classic, eternally timeless moto jacket than that it’s a menswear staple that every guy should own? Well, as luck would have it, there’s plenty that can be said about this iconic piece of men’s outerwear — let’s get going on another edition of our Style 101 series.

The moto jacket, like so much of modern menswear, was born out of a purely functional and utilitarian purpose long before it took on a life of its own as a go-to, daily style staple for guys the world over. It’s long beyond a trend, and now a stone-cold classic. You perhaps recognize the moto jacket from the big screen decades ago, where icons like Brando and Dean made the style a surefire hit among those looking to channel a rebellious, rugged, devil-may-care aura. It was a coveted item then just as it is now — even if it’s now just as likely to be worn by rock stars (see: Brandon Flowers of The Killers) as it is by rough-and-tumble rebels from back in the day. Why did it take on such a life of its own, though?

Our Picks:

– Roland Sands Ronin Leather Jacket

– Buck Mason Bruiser Moto Jacket

– Belstaff Outlaw Leather Jacket

– Schott Perfecto Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Much like Levi’s jeans or classic Red Wing Heritage leather boots, the tough functionality of the moto jacket — particularly a long-running staple like the revered Schott Perfecto Leather Jacket — made it a winning choice, revered for its durability. And that durability, the sort of wear-everyday performance, took on a life of its own. (in fact, it’s still made in the U.S.A to this day — and it’s the same one worn by Brando on-screen). The classic moto jacket as we know it shares many of the same details as Schott’s Perfecto jacket, from the trim, athletic fit and above-the-belt cut to the fact that classic moto jackets are often found in rich black leather (although other brands like Thursday Boots make their own versions in dark brown leather, and brands like Schott make their versions now with a longer cut).

Roland Sands Ronin Leather Moto Jacket

Moto jackets also have a few other unifying details, including the casually cool asymmetrical zipper and shoulder epaulets, plus thick lapels with snapdown buttons — the typical moto jacket is often made of thick cowhide leather, not flimsy cheap leather (again, brands like Schott continue to stick to these tried-and-true methods of sourcing and production). As with a rich pair of leather boots, a jacket made with distinctive leather will break in and get better with age over time. And although there are other variations, most moto jackets have a belted front, also made of durable hardware (usually silver in color).

If that sounds like a lot of bells and whistles, well, when you think about it … they’re really all necessary when it comes to crafting the perfect moto jacket (one that can be worn for years on end, at that). Brands like Buck Mason do things a little differently, particularly in the case of the Bruiser Moto Jacket (every bit as well-made as its perfectly cut tees and jeans, we might add). The Bruiser is a moto jacket style that uses washed leather for a broken-in feel from the get-go, supplementing that design with a slim fit, no epaulets and no belted front — but still, it’s a moto jacket worthy of your consideration.

Related Reading:

– The Best Men’s Leather Jackets

Of course, traditional moto jackets have taken on a two-fold life, as worn by rockers like The Ramones and of course, real-life road riders — although, you might say the moto jackets sold by brands like Buck Mason are more suited to wearing to a rock concert than wearing to hop on a chopper, but to each their own. The point is this: The moto jacket is at once old-school and modern, subversive and distinctly cool. You could even go so far as to pair it up with a white Oxford and slim black denim for a touch of casual office or date night cool (black leather Doc Martens boots not included).

The classic moto jacket can really be customized and worn as you please — and the great thing about such a long-running style is that vintage pieces abound, if you know where to look. Online offerings of vintage moto jackets tend to get pricey — but your local vintage shop might be a fitting place to start. Of course, the real rebel move these days is to buy a classic moto jacket from a brand you know and love, then get to work making it all your own with adventures and bold (yet authentic) style choices aplenty. The moto jacket is a style to be lived in — the durable black leather on pieces like the Schott Perfecto calls that to mind perfectly.

And while there are a plethora of brands making moto jackets like these days, we can’t recommend enough that you invest in a true original for daily wear. Try one on for yourself, and we think you’ll agree: There’s no topping the tough, classic moto jacket.

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