How Should A Leather Jacket Fit?

How tight should a leather jacket be? | Murston Co.

If you’ve ever considered buying a leather jacket, you’ve likely wondered just how tight it should fit. With the leather jacket being one of the most classic clothing items that every man should own at least once in his lifetime, it’s natural to wonder what the standards are when it comes to sizing. Therefore, the question remains: how tight should a leather jacket fit?

In short, a leather jacket, when fully zipped up, should fit you snugly without restricting your movement. Additionally, if you plan to wear thicker clothing (i.e. a sweater) underneath your leather jacket, it’s important to have some wiggle-room across the chest, shoulders, and sleeves.

Ultimately, you should feel comfortable wearing it from day one. But before you go spending the money on a leather jacket that doesn’t fit you quite right, there are a few things you should consider.

In fact, for the rest of this article, I’m going to delve into all of the must-knows about how a leather jacket should fit so you can feel confident in your purchase.

All About Leather Jackets

The iconic leather jacket is one of the most timeless and functional pieces of clothing you will ever own.

Whether you’re meeting friends for drinks or heading to the grocery store, you’ll always look and feel fresh in a leather jacket. However, if you want to get the most out of the timeless look, it’s essential that you find a leather jacket that fits you properly.

How A Leather Jacket Should Fit

A leather jacket will, over time, conform to your body the longer you wear it.

Therefore, when buying a new one, it’s not a bad idea to opt for a snug fit rather than an overly-big one.

Plenty of leather specialists suggest sizing down from your usual outerwear size. Leather that feels a bit tight when you buy it will probably feel just right after wearing it for a week or two.

To give you a better idea of how a leather jacket should fit, let’s discuss the particulars.

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When first trying on a leather jacket, you should be able to easily zip it up and feel it hug closely to your body.

It should also be snug around your armpits.

Zip the jacket up, and if you find that you’re standing like a soldier at attention, it’s most likely too tight. Ultimately, there should be enough room across the chest for you to wear a sweater or a couple of layers beneath it. 


Again, you’ll want enough room in the shoulders to allow for a sweater to fit underneath.

Also, it’s nice to have a leather jacket’s shoulder points come close to where your own shoulders are set, but you can let it land an inch or two down your arm. Anything with shoulder points shorter than your own shoulder width is considered to be too tight. 


In most cases, a leather jacket should not be longer than your belt. Although it might feel shorter than you’re used to, they aren’t designed to be as long as tall-tees.

Not to mention, the longer it is, the shorter you look.


The sleeves should land somewhere between the break in your wrist and the base of your thumb. You shouldn’t feel like you have to constantly pull the sleeves up. However, you also don’t want the sleeves sitting above your watch.

The History Of Leather Jackets

Men have been apt to wear hides and skins for centuries. But, leather jackets were first intended for military attire in the early 1900s, during World War I.

German fighter pilots began wearing brown leather jackets, which later, during World War II, became known as bomber jackets.

Back in the day, the leather jacket was useful for fighter pilots to keep warm in the high, freezing altitudes. Little did they know, their sensible leather jackets would soon be welcomed into the fashion community as one of the most classic items throughout the world.

Soon enough, in 1928, the item originally designed as a useful article for military uniforms gained its spotlight in streetwear. Irvin Schott manufactured the jacket that all future leather jackets would be based on—The Perfecto.

Throughout the decades, the jacket became widely popular. And it wasn’t long before it was featured in Hollywood films, including The Wild One and Rebel Without A Cause.

Once society saw James Dean in a leather jacket, the style skyrocketed.

Because of its showcase in various movies, the leather jacket was quick to become a stereotype for the “bad boy” character. Besides that, it soon was adopted into the music industry and became a staple for rock n’ roll. 

Leather jackets remain a widely-accepted trend to this day, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere soon.

Leather Jacket Styles

Today, the leather jacket is an insanely popular item, and most well-curated closets are not complete without one.

Aside from the original bomber jacket, there are various styles on the market to choose from to complete your closet.

The motorcycle culture has produced some of the best leather jackets designed specifically for biking.

The biker jacket is a cropped leather jacket that typically features asymmetrical zippers and plenty of studs. This particular style is most commonly worn by—you guessed it—motorcyclists, who need a snug fit to protect them from any potential contact with the asphalt.

They’re usually made from cowhide or goatskin and are the most beloved and rugged of their kind.

Not far from biking jackets are leather racing jackets, molded directly from their close, classic, heavyweight relative.They’re typically the more fashionable of the two and provide less protection but more style.

Leather racing jackets are softer, designed with clean lines and a basic zipper complete with a button on the band collar. They can easily complement any outfit aside from additional racing gear, including dress shirts and Chelsea boots if worn appropriately.

Leather field jackets, or barn coats, suit more of a laid-back, Americana lifestyle.

They were originally produced for hard-laboring farmers but have evolved since to fit more urban lifestyles as well. Field jackets provide more space for equipment and other essentials to carry on you. Not to mention, they’re typically a looser fit that falls below the waistband.

Regardless of the style you choose, a leather jacket can never disappoint.

A Guide to Buying Your First Leather Jacket

If you’re thinking of investing in your first leather jacket, there are some important factors to consider.

Before diving in and spending $500, it’s necessary to know the characteristics that will help you make a practical decision. It’s essential to get the most for your money and find a lifelong, quality jacket that you can count on to keep you looking dapper.

I mean, that’s the real goal here, right?

Name Your Price

There are hundreds of options for leather jackets to choose from. But, the good news is that honing in on a set price that you’re willing to spend will help you narrow down the possibilities.

First things first: a leather jacket is the last place you’d want to be economical. Authentic leather will last you forever, and pleather is only going to last for a hot minute—if that. Not to mention, leather will only look better as it ages.

You’ll need a jacket that can keep up with your charming looks over the years.

All that said, while you can find nice leather jackets for less than $500, you shouldn’t go too far below that.

Also, in most cases, the higher the price tag, the better the quality.

Full-grain is basically straight from the cow itself, making it the most valuable and the toughest on your wallet. Steer clear of split-leather—also known as “genuine”—and bonded leather; these are much less likely to last.

To put it simply, if you can’t quite afford real leather, it’s better to just save up until you can buy the real thing.

Pick A Style

After deciding on a price, your next step is to choose a style. The kind you choose typically depends on your day-to-day life, as well as how often you’re planning to sport your jacket.

If you’re not sold on any particular style, shoot for a racing jacket as it will be the most versatile compared to the other options on the market.

Next to style is color, which is also personal but equally important. The most commonly worn colors of leather are black and brown. Black holds a clear, edgy vibe, while brown maintains a softer energy.

Although neither is the wrong choice, one certainly might work better for you and the other pieces in your wardrobe, so it’s a crucial characteristic to mull over.


The timeless leather jacket will never do you wrong–that is unless the fit isn’t right.

To ensure that you’re investing in a piece that will fit your body perfectly until the end of time, allow your leather jacket to be a bit snug but don’t let your muscles come bulging from the seams. Truthfully, when you find your perfect match, you’ll know.

So, what is your favorite style of a leather jacket? Be sure to leave a comment below.

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