Which leather jacket is best?

Black leather jackets are the ultimate wardrobe staple for a cool, classic look. They’re chic, versatile and just as functional as they are stylish. They’ve become even more iconic thanks to leather-sporting celebrities like Elvis Presley, James Dean, Marylin Monroe and more. But you don’t need to be a movie star to rock this look; almost everyone looks great in a black leather jacket. 

There are so many different styles and types to choose from. When it comes to fit, look for something that’s comfortable and isn’t too light or heavy that you can’t layer underneath. One of the best black leather jackets is the Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Cafe Racer Leather Jacket.

What to know before you buy a black leather jacket

Size

Leather jackets can either be tight and form-fitting or loose and baggy. You’ll want one that doesn’t restrict your movement, but it also shouldn’t be so baggy that it gets in your way. That’s why it’s important to know your size before you buy, especially when purchasing one online. Check the brand’s size chart beforehand, as every brand has different sizing standards. 

If you’re buying a black leather jacket that isn’t designed to be unisex, you may need to size up or down. A women’s black leather jacket will be smaller than a men’s black leather jacket of the same named size — so a women’s medium is smaller than a men’s or unisex medium. Leather jackets tend to be stiff when you first get them but will gradually loosen up over time. 

Style

Finding a flattering style will help you determine which type of black leather jacket to get. Leather biker jackets are classic for a reason. They can make a simple outfit look instantly edgier, helping you move from work to a bar or a concert.If you prefer wearing high-waisted bottoms, you may enjoy a cropped black leather jacket that ends just below the ribs. If you want to lengthen your torso, you may want a straight, classic cut. Or if you want to accent your curves, look for one that flares out from the waist. It’s always a good idea to try on your black leather jacket with something you plan on wearing frequently, so you can see how the cut looks.

Climate

Your climate will help you determine the right type of jacket for you. If it tends to be warmer, go with something lighter or shorter. If it’s colder, go with one that’s thicker and roomier enough to layer underneath. Some leather jackets are lined or padded for additional warmth. If you live in an area that has extremely cold winters, make sure to use a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple, which prevents cracking. 

Remember, leather naturally provides some protection from the wind and rain, so you may feel warmer in a leather jacket than you would in a fabric jacket of the same thickness. This can become an issue on mild days. 

What to look for in a quality black leather jacket

Grain

There are four grain types to choose from for your black leather jacket:

  • Full-grain leather is the highest-quality leather on the market. Essentially, the leatherworker has removed the hair from the hide, and that’s it. Full-grain has the least amount of processing done on it, giving it a durable, sturdy feel. This is a good option for those who wear leather in an industrial work environment.
  • Top-grain leather comes from the top part of the hide and has the most natural grain. It’s more supple than full-grain leather, but it still offers plenty of durability. You’ll find top-grain leather in a lot of motorcycle jackets.
  • Genuine leather is the lowest quality leather available. You’ll find this kind of leather in less expensive leather products. That said, a genuine black leather jacket is more durable than a faux black leather jacket and is likely to last a while.
  • Split-grain leather (also known as suede) comes from the fibrous area of the hide, which shows when you separate the rawhide from the upper part of the hide. It’s much softer than other leathers, but it’s more prone to damage. It also stains more easily than its shiny counterpart.

Accessories

Some black leather jackets have accessories that give them an edge. These often include silver studs, belts and buckles. Some even have fringe to give them some extra flair. If you want to customize your black leather jacket on your own, you can add patches or buttons, or you can head to the tailor to get a customized lining.

Modern or vintage

Vintage black leather jackets have been around so long that it can be hard to differentiate them from modern-looking styles. However, there are a few important differences between the two, which come down to the overall look of the jacket and the closure type. Vintage jackets will have less polish and usually use buttons instead of zippers. Modern ones typically have a shinier look that’s bright and smooth.

How much you can expect to spend on a black leather jacket

Real black leather jackets are relatively expensive. They cost even more when you’re purchasing from a well-known name brand. They can cost between $150-$400 and more, depending on the design, grain and brand. But remember, leather jackets will last for years.

Black leather jacket FAQ

How do you clean black leather jackets?

A. Most leather jackets need to be spot-cleaned or dry-cleaned. If you have a small smudge or mark you want to try to get out, you can try gently scrubbing it with a soft brush with a mixture of detergent and water. After you’ve gotten rid of the mark, wipe it down with a clean, wet rag. 

What should you pair with a black leather jacket? 

A. You can wear it with almost anything. You can dress it up and dress it down as you wish. From skinny jeans to skirts to shorts, your jacket will fit in seamlessly with your wardrobe. T-shirts and sweaters go great as well, as do all types of boots and sneakers. 

Are real leather jackets worth it?

A. Absolutely! While black leather jackets can be expensive, they’re a worthwhile investment. They’re sturdy, durable and a true classic for any wardrobe. Quality leather jackets can last decades, making them good value when you consider how much use you’ll get out of them, And since they go with nearly everything in your closet and are enduringly popular, they won’t go out of style.

What’s the best black leather jacket to buy?

Top black leather jacket

Best Polo Ralph Lauren Men's Cafe Racer Leather Jacket

Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Cafe Racer Leather Jacket

What you need to know: This sleek, tapered biker jacket is as versatile as it is stylish. It has a classic cut and stellar stitching that looks great with any outfit.

What you’ll love: The soft, supple leather is slick and comfortable. The black front zipper closure disappears into the seam, and the long sleeves have zipped cuffs, too. It has a stand-up collar with a snap closure for keeping out drafts in chilly weather. It has three zippered pockets and comes in a wide variety of sizes.

What you should consider: This jacket runs a little bit small, so you may need to get a size bigger. Some customers noticed the color faded around the collar. Others felt the clothing tag was too scratchy and had to remove it.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

Top black leather jacket for the money

Best BLANKNYC Women's Luxury Cropped Suede Leather Motorcycle Jacket

BLANKNYC Women’s Luxury Cropped Suede Leather Motorcycle Jacket

What you need to know: If you want a modern leather motorcycle jacket, this one comes with buckles and zippers to make the style pop. It’s a suede leather jacket, so it has a softer look with less sheen to it.

What you’ll love: This women’s black leather jacket is lightweight, making it perfect for more temperate climates. It has two exterior pockets, a zipper closure, plus a buckle and belt around the waist to give it some extra style. And if you’d prefer another color besides black, it comes in 28 other shades.

What you should consider: It runs a little small. Some users noticed a smell when they first opened it. Others felt the colors they ordered (aside from black) did not match the color they saw online.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Men's Excelled A-2 Leather Bomber Jacket

Men’s Excelled A-2 Leather Bomber Jacket

What you need to know: This leather bomber jacket has a classic look, and its oversized fit makes it easy to layer. It’s a stylish choice that works well for chilly weather and full-blown winter temperatures.

What you’ll love: This black leather jacket is durable and thick, making it functional while still maintaining a classic bomber jacket style. It has a zipper front closure and six different pockets with snap closures, including interior ones. Layering is a cinch making it a go-to for ever-changing temperatures in the early spring and late fall. 

What you should consider: Some customers felt the leather was a bit too heavy and stiff. Others had trouble with the zipper getting stuck.

Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s

Best Guess Women's Faux Leather Asymmetric Moto Jacket

Guess Women’s Faux Leather Asymmetric Moto Jacket

What you need to know: With a timeless biker style, this black faux leather jacket won’t be going out of vogue any time soon. 

What you’ll love: It’s effortlessly stylish with quilted shoulder and arm detailing. The chunky silver zippers add to the look, while the zippered pockets are practical for carrying essentials. It comes in sizes XS-XL. It’s great for anyone who isn’t convinced about real leather. 

What you should consider: It runs slightly small, so you may need to get a size bigger than you normally would.

Where to buy: Sold by Macy’s

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Anabelle Weissinger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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