How to choose the right leather for your jacket
Finding the perfect leather jacket that feels as though it was made uniquely for you begins with knowing which leather works best for your lifestyle. With several jacket designs and fits to choose from, it’s crucial to know how to choose the right leather for your jacket and how the type of leather you choose will drastically change and determine how the jacket sits, drapes, shapes to your frame as you wear it, and how it naturally creases and wears over time.
So how do you know which leather is best? I want to first say, each type of leather has various advantages and disadvantages depending on what you’re looking for, your lifestyle, and how you intend to handle (or manhandle) your jacket in your daily life. There is no right or wrong leather in the general sense, but when it comes to choosing a leather type for your unique lifestyle, there is absolutely a clear first choice when you know what you’re looking for.
TYPES OF LEATHER AND WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Because of the vast varieties of leather hides and skins one can source from around the world, I am going to focus on the more common and popular choices of leather that are used specifically for leather jackets, and how the characteristics of each drastically change the weight, the finish, the feel, and the appearance of each type.
COWHIDE: Cowhide leather is one of the most popular leathers used in jackets for its durability, strength, and toughness, especially when used for moto and biker jackets that require tougher quality leather for protection. Because of its slightly heavier weight, this leather provides exceptional warmth and breathability for year-round wear. Because this leather is a thicker weight, it does take more time to break in and soften as you wear it but will ultimately become a second skin of armor you’ll enjoy for years to come.
Look for cowhide jackets if you’re looking for:
- more strength
- heavier, quality feel when worn
- maximum warmth in a leather jacket
- protection from the elements (from riding motorcycles, to adventures in the wild, and yes, even fire)
LAMBSKIN: Lambskin leathers are a beautiful combination of all the best leather characteristics and one of the reasons it’s one of the most popular skins used for women’s luxury leather jackets. With its rich, buttery, smooth texture, it also provides an incredible amount of warmth considering its thinness, with the added bonus of its stretch and flexibility that make it undoubtedly feel like a lightweight second skin on your body. The only downside to lambskin is, although its leather traits still allow for durability, is not as durable as the other hides or skins. But if you’re strictly looking for a leather that allows for the maximum luxurious look and feel, and not for practical/functional outerwear, then lambskin is your golden ticket.
Look for lambskin jackets if you’re looking for:
- the most luxurious feel to the touch
- lightweight and flexibility
- medium warmth in a leather jacket that can be worn year-round with additional layers
- medium level protection from the elements (you’re not looking to jump onto a moving train from a motorcycle basically)
CALFSKIN: Calfskin is the perfect compromise between cowhides and lambskin if you’re looking for something in between and the best of both worlds. Calfskin shares the lightweight feel and softness of lambskin but embraces the strength and durability of cowhide.
SHEEPSKIN: Sheepskin is preferred by many for it’s very lightweight, soft, and smooth characteristics. It’s a fantastic choice for colder climates when looking for the ultimate warmth in leathers when the leather is used with the fleece still intact. If you’re also looking for a leather jacket that will soften and mold to your shape as you wear it, this is the leather for you. But be sure to be careful around sharp objects with this leather as it is more prone to damage due to its softness.
Look for sheepskin jackets if you’re looking for:
- very lightweight
- soft, smooth, and conforms to the body
- excellent insulation and warmth for colder climates
GOATSKIN: Goatskin leather is another popular choice in leathers for jackets due to its large supply of lanolin that allows for incredible softness and durability that is hard to rival. Goatskin is also known for its distinctive pebble appearance. Although every type of leather still requires some level of maintenance and care for its longevity and cleanliness, even with its porous characteristics that absorb substances easier, because of its natural abundance in lanolin, it prevents the leather from drying over an extensive amount of time much better than other leathers without a lot of required maintenance and care.
Look for goatskin jackets if you’re looking for:
- a unique leather look with its pebbled appearance
- an exceptionally smooth, soft, and fine grain look and feel
- lightweight, flexibility, and durability
- less required maintenance and upkeep
EXOTIC SKINS: Exotic leathers include a plethora of skins including snake, alligator, and ostrich, so I’ll share a more generalized collection of attributes for these. Besides their beautiful and unique appearance, exotic skins are incredibly tough and why they appeal to so many as they scuff, tear, or scratch significantly less than other skins allowing them to last much longer.
Look for exotic skin jackets if you’re looking for:
- a unique and exceptionally rare leather
- a bold statement piece
- a more exclusive piece to add to your collection
- the highest quality leather and will never settle for less than the best
SUEDE: Lastly we have suede. Made from the underside of various leathers such as cowhide (the thickest and roughest suede), sheepskin (the softest and most delicate suede), and pigskin (heavy, thick, and durable suede), and are used commonly for outerwear due to its durability and smooth texture. Because of its thin nature, this leather is much more pliable and can be used to make more intricate pieces that require a softer beautiful drape that traditional leathers cannot. It’s downside though is it can damage much easier than more traditional leathers as dust and dirt can build up in the nap of the suede, and stay far away from water.
Look for suede jackets if you’re looking for:
- a thin leather that drapes and molds to your body
- a long lasting leather when properly cared for
- a soft, velvety feel
With the variety of leathers ranging from every thickness, softness, and durability, it’s easy to find the perfect leather that suits your lifestyle, how it wears over time, and look and style. It’s no wonder the leather jacket has become such a timeless and iconic piece. It shows a bold (or delicate) side of your personality that words only could never portray. Leaving everyone around you intrigued by your unique jacket and the woman wearing it.
Do you still have questions or maybe I didn’t touch on something you want to know about a bit deeper? Let me know in the comments below.