Thursday, August 22, 2013

Motorcycle jackets - Now and Then

I'll start by saying that I'm a huge huuuuuge fan of the leather jacket. I have a few and I wear them over and over until they die, yeah. That's how much I love the motorcycle/leather jacket. The good thing about the moto jacket is that it basically goes with anything in your wardrobe, be it jeans, tailored pants or a girly dress. Versatility, that's it's biggest plus. That and their instant chic factor.

I'm currently lusting after this quilted Zara version.

 The motorcycle jacket is a classic example of clothing that went from function to fashion. But of course, not all leather jackets are suitable to wear on a motorcycle. And obviously, all jackets are not made equal. Quality is an issue and the style and cut of the jacket is key. There are some truly hideous ones out there but when it comes to the leather jacket or the motorcycle jacket, I think it's not that hard to find one that is perfect for you.

The History of the Motorcycle Jacket

Let's take a look at how the motorcycle jacket came to where it is today. It all started in the 1900s when aviators and members of the military would wear brown leather flight jackets with button front closure. They wore these jackets for their durability and for warmth. So definitely more function than fashion, though I bet those boys wore proud to wear theirs too.

"The initial development of the motorcycle jacket began with companies like Schott who opened in 1913, and began producing motorcycle jackets during the 1920’s. In Detroit, The Joseph Buegeleisen Co. started business in 1933 providing motorcycle accessories & saddlebags, and began producing motorcycle jackets in the 1940’s. Other early jacket makers/retailers include Indian Motorcycles with only one model jacket, the 'Ranger' for men, and the 'Rangerette' for women. The woman’s model had the pocket and zipper opposite of the man’s model."                           -

Harley Davidson has also fielded quality leathers since the early days, starting business in 1910. In 1928 Irving Schott designed the first motorcycle jacket, which he named after his favorite cigar, The Perfecto. He sold it for $5.50 at the Harley Davidson store in New York.

Iconic Marlon Brando in The Wild One
 In the 1953 movie The Wild One, Marlon Brando appeared in a classic leather bomber. This style began to symbolize a rough and rebellious youth culture, leading schools in the US to ban their students from wearing similar jackets.

"The 'Pistol Pocket' holster shaped design on Harley Davidson jackets was also used by such makers as: Buco, Hercules, Beck, and a number of others. This was a popular 1940’s design element that carried over into the 1960’s with the Sears Oakbrook model. Another old style design incorporates a storage pocket in the back accessed by a zippered opening on the left side, not unlike the pockets on many hunting jackets.

An additional factor in the design of the motorcycle jacket was the Seminal influence on fashion provided by Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones in which his double breasted 'one star' Schott jacket became the norm. Many jacket manufacturers followed suit, and added another star to the epaulet, though not necessarily a quality improvement over Schott’s original."                           -

James Dean
"In 1955 James Dean's motorcycle jacket practically became his second skin--which definitely helped its rebel reputation." Plus he looked pretty darn good.                                         
 - Glamour Magazine

 In the 1970s Debbie Harry wore her sleeveless version with pride. And lookit, here she is mixing prints before it was a trend. Love her.

One of my all-time favorite bands - The Ramones

"In 1974 when The Ramones hit the stage at CBGB (also wearing the Schott Perfecto), Punk magazine founder Legs McNeil described them like this: 'They were all wearing these black leather jackets…They looked so striking. These guys were not hippies. This was something completely new.'" I'm also having some serious fringe/bangs envy here.

Kate Moss looks perfect in her leather jacket.

In the 2000s celebrities like Kate Moss and the Olsen twins help usher in a new era of the motorcycle jacket. One that is still strong today. And I couldn't be happier. Below is a picture of moi from over three years ago wearing a fake leather jacket (not my favorite but whatever) and holding Dracul. Obviously, you can't see much of my outfit but the point is that this picture might well have been taken three days ago and you wouldn't know it because leather jackets are timeless. They can be investments pieces. They can be worn almost all seasons and they are bloody fantastic.

MsVeve and tiny Mr. Pig.

Okay, now you know about my obsession with motorcycle jackets and I can go get some work done. I've got an essay to write and books to read. And planning some sewing soon.

Till next time,
Miss V

 All quotes from and

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