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Leather Guide * What to look for when buying a Leather Jacket

So let’s face it, we all love a great leather jacket. It is just one of those timeless classic pieces that every woman should have in her wardrobe. But most of us don’t know what to look for when buying a leather jacket or why the prices can vary from $200 to its twin in another high-end boutique of $3,000. What is that all about?

Well to begin with we have 6 different types of leather and 5 different leather grades, that right there affects the price.

Then there is the number of panels that it takes to construct the jacket, so fewer panels in a jacket means that it will be more expensive to produce.

The price is also reflected with the inner lining in a jacket and the different types of stitching and craftsmanship are reflective in the price. A lining helps to firmly tug down your jacket on your shoulders and it makes the garment fall smooth from the top to the bottom. The inner lining also absorbs sweat and is soft and warm plus it adds more comfort to the jacket. All linings are not the same so look for Bemberg lining as this is the best because it is breathable,  lightweight and feels silky to the touch.

Clean stitching in any Leather Garment is of the highest quality. So note that any decorative stitching and detailing in a leather garment will lead to a much higher price.

Plus any accessories or embellishments such as zippers, patches, motifs, studs, eyelets and buttons demand a higher price. Look for the zipper ‘YKK’ or the ‘RiRi’ zipper for your leather jacket as these are excellent zipper choices because of their superior quality and strength and will last a very long time.

The six types of Leather Skins are:

  1. Cowhide: this is the most common type of leather material used for the classic motorcycle jacket that has been around since the 1920s. Cowhide is popular because it repels water + dirt and offers excellent weather protection.
  2. Bison: is similar in strength and durability to the cowhide, but Bison has a distinctive pebble grain that has a rugged beauty to it.
  3. Deerskin: we love deerskin because it is so soft and light to the touch and it is also very durable and strong. 

With it’s supple smooth surface Deerskin is popular in coats and jackets but also in handbags and gloves. Deerskin is exceptionally comfortable to wear as it contours to your form and them becomes softer with each wear.

  1. Goatskin: now like Deerskin, Goatskin is smooth and supple and also has the characteristics of pebble grain.
  2. Lambskin: this is as soft as soft gets when it comes to leather. Lambskin is lightweight and extremely smooth and thin and that is why it is used in garments that have a lot of draping detailing because it has a beautiful flow to the garment.
  3. Calfskin: so you pair the strength and the durability of cowhide with the soft and light feel of Lambskin and you have Calfskin. This is thicker and heavier than Lambskin while still being supple and smooth.

Then we move onto the different ‘Leather Grades’ and this refers to the manner in which the hide has been cut and finished.

Our 5 Leather Grades are Full-Grain; Top-Grain; Suede; Nubuck and Genuine Leather.

  1. Full-grain leather: this hasn’t been sanded or buffed, which means that it has all it’s natural markings and personality. Over time this type of leather develops a beautiful patina that offers a soft sheen that warms with age. Similar to a bottle of fine wine.
  2. Top-grain leather: this is thinner and more wearable than full-grain leather as top-grain leather has been sanded to remove any imperfections. Top-grain also refers to the portion of the hide which also has a stain-repellent finish to it.
  3. Suede: I am a huge fan of suede which has a napped surface and that is because the leather has been split and the rawhide has been removed. However, suede is more porous and absorbent and it does not do well in the rain.
  4. Nubuck: it is very similar to suede but much stronger and more durable and used in the manufacture of boots. It has a distinctive velvety texture and it is crafted from top-grain leather that has been sanded or buffed.
  5. Genuine leather: Genuine leather is thinner than full-grain and top-grain leather and is strong and supple and has many uses in the garment industry.

Finally, let’s talk about the jacket style. Basically there are really 6 standard styles of leather jackets which will vary depending on your embellishments.

  1. Bomber Jacket – also known as the Flight Jacket and it has a fitted elastic strap on the waistband and the cuffs with a zipper front and often a pile collar, which is usually a shearling.
  2. Biker Jacket – a short close-fitting leather jacket with zippers and studs.
  3. Motorcycle or Moto Jacket – Short fitting leather jacket with a diagonal front zipper, epaulettes and zippered pockets all pulled together with a belt at the waist.
  4. Blazer – lovely fitted jacket with set-in flap pockets in leather with stitching detail.
  5. Shearling –  shearing is a sheepskin pelt that has been sheared uniformly to obtain the same depth and feel throughout. The pelts are tanned with the wool still on them. The combination of suede leather on the outside and soft wool on the inside makes shearling pelts ideal for garments that will withstand very cold temperatures and moisture.
  6. Fringe or Studded jacket – Back in the day a Fringe jacket was the ideal jacket to wear as the fringe made the rain runoff better. But the fringes were also used in the ‘wild country’ on long horseback rides when they were needed to tie something in an emergency. In a pinch, they would cut off a strip of fringe which would provide a string for re-attaching the reins to a bit or replacing a Latigo string on a saddle. Nowadays they are a big fashion statement and very in vogue.

Studded leather jackets go way back in time as well to when men wore armour in a battle to protect themselves. Jon Snow in GOT (Game of Thrones) wore a ‘Brigandine’ which is a long type of vest-like garment consisting of metal plates pressed between layers of leather. Then the style evolved over time and anyone wearing this look was considered to be tough and not to be trifled with.

Follow me on my social links @frumptofabulous and subscribe to my ‘Friday Fashion Fix’ at Frump to Fabulous where I give away free downloads to help you on your fashion journey.

Until next time it’s Linda Ferguson – Helping you discover your inner FASHiONiSTA

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