Leather Jacket Works for Rebels


Once a rebel, always a rebel. The leather jacket has come a long way, from being an outlaw’s uniform to part of a Ralph Lauren ensemble. But with its earthy smell, there’s still a sense that the guy wearing it is trying to go against the grain just a little.

Now that temperatures are low, guys are often tempted to abandon their blazers and sport coats and show up for work with a hip leather jacket over a dress shirt, tie and slacks. It’s a way of hiding conformity under a cloak of rebel garb.

Is it OK?

“It depends on your office culture,” says John Shaw of Alex Sebastian for Men in Costa Mesa. “In some places, walking in with a leather jacket is absolutely fine. In others, where even most sport coats are considered too casual, you’d be breaking new ground.”


Laura Downing of Laura Downing in Laguna Beach says: “It’s more acceptable now than it was a few years ago. With the widespread popularity of Friday ‘dress down’ days, it’s more acceptable now to mix casual and dress clothing.”

As a rule, don’t expect your jacket to be welcome at a formal business meeting or job interview. “It’s a mix of formal and casual, which may be something you don’t want to project to a client or employer,” says clothing consultant Brian Mayne of Mission Viejo. “If you’re wearing your leather jacket to work, make sure you hang it up as soon as you get to your desk.”

One style of jacket that seems to cross the line of formality is the leather blazer. Although not technically business wear, it does look a little dressier than your typical bomber-style leather jacket. “People who like the look and feel of a leather jacket but don’t want to look too casual often try these,” Shaw says. “They’re distinctive without making you look like too much of a rebel.”

Another issue that surrounds leather jackets is how much “babying” they get. If you’re the kind of person seen in restaurants folding your precious leather inside out before putting it on your chair, or anxiously listening for weather reports to see if a sprinkle will keep your jacket closeted, you may be an overprotective owner.

“Treat your jacket well, but it doesn’t have to be pampered,” Mayne says. “The best leather jackets can stand a little rain, or a few scratches here and there. You’ve got to accept that it’s going to get a little worn; you can’t keep it like new forever.”

* Do you need an antidote for a wardrobe problem? Write Closet Rx at The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or fax to (714) 966-7790.