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Get to Know the Leather Bomber Jacket

BY Alex Johnson Insight bomber jacket
BY Alex Johnson

Learn Where It Originated, How to Wear, and More

A History in Flight

In 1917, the US Army Aviation Clothing Board created “flight jackets” for WWI pilots. These special jackets were necessary because the cockpits in WWI fighter planes were open-air and uninsulated. To protect from the bitter cold conditions, the original flight jackets were crafted of horse leather or sealskin and lined with fur. Fast forward a couple of years and the first true bomber jacket—the B-series—was made and designed specifically for high-altitude bombers and their needs. The B-3 Bomber Jacket was introduced in the mid 1930s, crafted of sheepskin and lined with heavy-duty sheep fur. It did not have the knit waistband featured on previous flight jackets, but two leather straps that allowed the pilot to close the wide sheepskin collar. This was a bulky coat designed to keep bombers warm 25,000 feet up. To learn more, check out our deep dive of The History of Bomber Jackets. Bomber jackets have now evolved into popular pieces of clothing that many wear today for their timeless look and long-lasting quality. Consider adding one to your closet to represent a classic piece of history.

What to Look for in a Durable Bomber Jacket

Quality Material

One of the main things to look for when investing in a durable bomber jacket is whether or not it is made from quality materials such as full grain or top grain leather. Leather can withstand the test of time and can also be passed down to future generations since it doesn't wear down as easily as other materials. If you are looking for a vintage leather bomber jacket, make sure that the leather is not discolored in any areas and check for any damage before arriving at a choice that you feel comfortable with.

Neutral Color

One can get a variety of different colored leather bomber jackets based on the buyer’s personal preferences, although neutrals like brown, black, and tan are more likely to be versatile over time. However, one can also get gray, green, and navy—whatever matches with your unique style.

Proper Fit

It is extremely important to select a bomber jacket that comfortably zips and fits over your clothes well. Many oversized leather jackets are popular right now due to their ability to allow the wearer to move more easily, however, others might choose a tighter fit. Whatever you deem to be the proper fit for yourself is ultimately your decision and is in the eye of the beholder so choose what best suits you.

Different Types of Leather Bomber Jackets

A2 Leather Flight Jacket

This style of bomber jacket is known for a zip closure with a wind flap and a high collar. Some characteristics of this style are the elasticized cuffs and waist, which offered major insulation against the cold.

B3 Bomber Jacket

This style of bomber jacket is known for being the first true bomber jacket. Some characteristics of this style are the heavy duty sheep fur that is lined throughout the jacket as well as the two leather straps, which allowed pilots to close the wide sheepskin collar. This was a bulky coat designed to keep bombers warm up to 25,000 feet in the air.

G1 Flight Jacket

This style of bomber jacket is known for being called the “Top Gun” jacket because it is the same jacket that Tom Cruise wears in his famous movie Top Gun. Some characteristics of this style are the zip closure and the removed wind flap from the A2. Also, the G-1 brought us the bi-swing back and mouton fur collar.

B6 Bomber Jacket

This style of bomber jacket is known for being warm and wearable. Some characteristics of this style are the sheepskin and sheep fur combination, just a bit less of it, and a single latch for the collar.

How to Wear Your Leather Flight Jacket

There are multiple different ways to style and wear your bomber leather jacket for men and women. For the G-1 flight jacket, a man could wear it over a plain white t-shirt and combine it with blue jeans just as Tom Cruise did in Top Gun. For women, they could pair it with a black t-shirt, jeans, sunglasses, and white sneakers. To style the A-2 leather flight jacket, guys could wear it over a plain brown t-shirt and a green flannel shirt with blue jeans and leather boots. Ladies, pair it with olive colored pants or boyfriend jeans. The styling possibilities are endless, but make sure you pick something that you’re comfortable in and matches your personal style.

Cleaning & Conditioning Your Jacket

It is tremendously important to properly clean, condition, and care for your leather jacket in a way that lets the life story of the leather—and its carrier—emerge over time. As a simple rule of thumb, if your leather jacket gets wet, dry it and if your leather jacket gets too dry, condition it. Furthermore, if your leather jacket gets dirty, clean it and if you aren’t using your leather jacket, store it away from heat. Regularly treating leather stops it from becoming damaged and allows for the leather fibers to remain healthy, soft, and supple. When you care for leather properly, it will become more beautiful, rugged, and interesting over time, echoing its adventures—and yours. For more information on how to properly clean and condition any of your leather apparel, here is our insightful guide on how to care for leather.

For more information on men’s leather jacket style , read our guide.

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