If there's one thing I've learned in my years as a professional stylist, it's that timeless pieces like a vintage leather jacket hold a unique place in fashion. They're like fine wine; they only get better with age. But I get it - sometimes styling these classics can feel a bit intimidating. You might wonder, "How can I wear this without looking like I'm stuck in a past decade?" Don't worry, I'm here for you.

In this blog, I'll be sharing my top tips and tricks on how to style vintage leather jacket with a contemporary spin. From pairing it with modern essentials to creating an ensemble that screams retro-chic, we'll navigate this style journey together. So, ready to revive the past with a stylish twist? Let's get started!

What is the difference between vintage leather and genuine leather?

What is the difference between vintage leather and genuine leather


Genuine Leather: The term "genuine leather" isn't about the quality of the leather but rather, it simply means that the product is made of real leather, not synthetic or faux leather. However, it's important to note that not all genuine leathers are the same. Genuine leather can vary greatly in quality, depending on the part of the hide used and the finishing processes. Lower quality genuine leathers are often painted or pigmented to look better, and they might not wear as well or last as long as higher-quality leathers. Genuine leather is a general term, and it might be made from any animal hide.

Vintage Leather: The term "vintage leather" doesn't necessarily refer to the leather itself, but more to the treatment or the finish that's been applied to it to give it a weathered, aged, or old look. Vintage leather is usually characterized by a patina, a surface appearance that develops with use over time. The term can also refer to actual old or antique leather items. Vintage leather can be of high quality or low quality, just like genuine leather; the term "vintage" just describes its appearance or age.

How To Style A Vintage Leather Jacket – Tips and Tricks

How To Style A Vintage Leather Jacket

Pair with a Classic White T-Shirt and Jeans: One of the simplest and most iconic ways to style a vintage leather jacket is to pair it with a classic white t-shirt and your favorite pair of jeans. This effortless combination creates a perfect balance between casual and chic. Opt for a slim or straight-leg pair of jeans and roll up the cuffs for a relaxed look. Add a pair of ankle boots or sneakers to complete the ensemble.

Dress it Up with a Dress or Skirt: Don't be afraid to mix edgy with feminine by pairing your vintage leather jacket with a dress or skirt. A flowy floral dress or a pleated skirt can create an interesting contrast against the jacket's ruggedness. Choose a dress or skirt with a length that complements the jacket's silhouette. Complete the look with ankle boots or heels to add a touch of sophistication.

Layer with Knitwear for Cooler Weather: When the temperatures drop, layering your vintage leather jacket with knitwear can not only keep you warm but also add texture and dimension to your outfit. Try wearing a chunky sweater or a cozy cardigan underneath the jacket. Leave the front open to showcase the collar and lapels of the jacket. Finish off the look with a pair of skinny jeans and ankle boots.

Experiment with Patterns and Prints: Don't limit yourself to solid-colored pieces when styling your vintage leather jacket. Experiment with patterns and prints to create eye-catching outfits. Pair the jacket with a striped or polka dot blouse, a plaid skirt, or even animal print accessories. Mixing patterns can be a fun way to add personality and create a unique look.

Accessorize Thoughtfully: Accessorizing can elevate your vintage leather jacket outfit to the next level. Consider adding a statement belt to cinch in the waist and create a more defined silhouette. Layer delicate necklaces or chunky chains to draw attention to the neckline of the jacket. Finish off with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, or a bold handbag to add a touch of individuality.

Embrace a Vintage Vibe: Since you're styling a vintage leather jacket, embrace the overall vintage vibe in your outfit. Look for vintage-inspired pieces such as high-waisted jeans, retro blouses, or bohemian dresses. Incorporate accessories like cat-eye sunglasses or a vintage-inspired scarf to enhance the nostalgic feel. This will create a cohesive and authentic look that pays homage to the jacket's roots.

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How To Style Vintage Leather Racing Jacket:

How To Style Vintage Leather Racing Jacket

  1. Pair with Denim: One of the simplest and most classic ways to style a vintage leather racing jacket is with a pair of denim jeans. This can be either skinny or regular fit, depending on your preference. A crisp white or solid colored tee shirt underneath the jacket and some boots or sneakers can complete the look.
  2. Layer with a Hoodie: For a more modern, street style-inspired look, layer your jacket over a hoodie. This not only adds an extra layer of warmth but also a touch of urban chic to your outfit. Keep the rest of your outfit relatively simple and stick with neutral colors to avoid clashing with the jacket.
  3. Dress it Up: Although leather jackets are often associated with casual wear, they can also be dressed up. Try pairing your racing jacket with a button-down shirt, black or dark-colored slim trousers, and some brogues or loafers. A slim-fit turtleneck can also look great under a leather jacket for a sleek, sophisticated style.
  4. Accessorize: Accessories can make or break an outfit. Think about adding some classic aviator sunglasses or a vintage-inspired watch. A good leather belt can also add to your look. Remember, less is often more when it comes to accessories, so try not to overdo it.

A well-cared-for vintage leather jacket can last for decades and will only look better with age. Be sure to clean and condition your jacket regularly, and try to avoid getting it wet if you can help it.

12 Things to Consider Before Buying A Vintage Leather Jacket

Vintage Leather Jacket buying guide


1. Leather Quality and Type: The Building Block of Your Jacket

The quality and type of leather is the foundation of any leather jacket. Vintage jackets are typically made from full-grain or top-grain leather, both renowned for their durability and aging properties. When buying a vintage leather jacket, feel the texture. It should be soft, supple, and have a natural, worn-in look.

The type of leather is also crucial. Cowhide is durable and sturdy, while lambskin is softer and smoother but may not withstand harsh conditions as well. Other types like goat and pigskin are also available, each with its unique characteristics. Therefore, determine your needs and preferences before making a decision.

2. Size and Fit: Finding Your Perfect Match

A good fit is vital in a leather jacket. Consider both the chest size and sleeve length. The jacket should fit snugly, but not too tight that it restricts your movement. It should be long enough to cover your waist and the sleeves should extend to the wrists. The fitting can vary depending on the style of the jacket, so trying it on is a must.

3. Joints and Panels: Examining the Craftsmanship

Inspect the jacket's joints and panels. They should be sturdy and well-crafted, indicating good craftsmanship. More panels often mean better fit but can also signal cost-cutting measures as smaller leather pieces are used. Look for jackets with fewer, larger panels and double-stitched seams.

4. Condition: Checking for Wear and Tear

When buying a vintage leather jacket, check for any signs of excessive wear and tear. Look at the collar, cuffs, and elbows, which are prone to damage. Cracks, dry patches, or discoloration may indicate that the jacket hasn't been cared for properly.

5. Inner Lining: The Hidden Comfort

A jacket's inner lining adds to its comfort and durability. Quality vintage leather jackets often have a quilted or silk lining, which not only feels good but also ensures the jacket lasts longer. Examine the lining for any tears or loose threads.

6. Color: Complementing Your Wardrobe

Common colors for vintage leather jackets are black and various shades of brown. While black is versatile and can be worn with almost anything, brown leather jackets have a more vintage look. Consider your existing wardrobe before choosing the color of your jacket.

7. Stitching and Craftsmanship: Appreciating the Details

Good stitching is synonymous with durability. Look for even, straight stitches with no loose ends. The craftsmanship is seen in the details – quality hardware, robust zippers, and well-made pockets are all indicators of a well-crafted jacket.

8. Style: Classic or Statement

From the iconic biker and bomber jackets to the less common field jackets, there's a style for everyone. Choose a style that reflects your personality and fits well with your overall aesthetic.

9. Weight: Balance Between Comfort and Warmth

The weight of the jacket can affect your comfort. Lighter jackets are easier to carry and ideal for mild weather, while heavier ones provide more warmth. If you're living in a colder climate, a heavier vintage leather jacket might be a better option.

10. Price: Investment vs. Affordability

Vintage leather jackets can be expensive. Consider it as an investment. The price often reflects the quality, condition, and brand of the jacket. Set a budget but be ready to adjust a bit for the right piece.

11. Brand: The Assurance of Quality

While the brand shouldn't be the sole determinant, it can indicate the quality of the jacket. Brands with a history of making leather jackets are generally more reliable. Some popular brands include Schott NYC, Harley Davidson, and Levi's.

12. Functionality: More Than Just a Fashion Statement

A leather jacket can be more than just a fashion statement. Check for functional details like the number and depth of pockets, the quality of the zippers, and the presence of a belt or adjustable cuffs.

How To Wash Vintage Leather Jacket

  1. Test in an Inconspicuous Area: Test the cleaning method on a small, hidden spot.
  2. Dust and Remove Debris: Gently remove dust and debris with a soft cloth or brush.
  3. Spot Clean Stains: Dab mild soap and water on stains using a soft cloth.
  4. Deep Clean the Jacket: Use a leather cleaner for vintage or delicate leathers, following instructions.
  5. Remove Excess Moisture: Wipe away remaining cleaner with a damp cloth and absorb excess moisture.
  6. Condition and Moisturize: Apply a vintage leather conditioner evenly with a soft cloth or sponge.
  7. Proper Storage: Store the jacket in a cool, dry place and use a padded hanger.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Vintage Leather Jackets Worth It?

Vintage leather jackets are indeed worth it for their uniqueness, durability, and timeless style. They might require a higher initial investment, but with proper care, they can last for decades and even become a heritage piece.

Which Leather Ages Best?

Full-grain leather is known to age the best. It develops a patina over time, which enhances its aesthetic appeal. The wear and tear it goes through add character to it, making each jacket unique.

Does Vintage Leather Smell?

Vintage leather might have a distinctive smell, which is a mix of the original tanning process, years of wear, and any treatments applied to it. However, a strong unpleasant smell might indicate poor storage conditions and possible damage.

How Long Does Original Leather Last?

With proper care and maintenance, high-quality original leather can last for decades. It withstands wear and tear well and ages beautifully, making it perfect for vintage leather jackets.

Don't forget to check our blog on How to get smell out of vintage leather jacket


A vintage leather jacket is not just a piece of clothing; it's an investment in style and durability. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can find a jacket that not only suits your style but also stands the test of time. Remember, a vintage leather jacket carries a piece of history, and owning one allows you to carry that legacy forward.