Wow! You guys loved our Badass Style Inspiration Gallery – 120 Photos of Men with Edge from last week! But there was one question I got over and over again in the contact form and on Twitter (@primermag): What are my thoughts on more affordable, fake leather jackets, and should you go for one if you don't want to drop the cash on a real leather one?
My thoughts have always been very black and white – either wear a leather jacket, or don't. Leather jackets are powerful at making a statement about the person wearing them. There's a lot of cultural subtext going back 80+ years when a guy dons one. A lot of it rooted in America's unspoken definitions of roguish men.
The one thing you don't want it to say? “I couldn't afford the real thing.”
It's impressive what the industry has been able to do with modern plastics, being able to mimic the look and feel of real leather better and better every year. But as the Supreme Court famously noted of pornography, with real leather, you'll “know it when you see it.” Even the laymen can pick up on fake leather jackets – the way it lays, the uniform grain, its smell (or lack of). The better fake options are astonishingly expensive, sometimes upward of $200, a price that boggles my mind.
So instead of spending that much on a fake one, go for an option with a similar silhouette that's very reasonably priced: The Black Denim Jacket.
Only slightly less badass than a leather jacket, a black denim jacket goes with everything. I love a traditional dark blue denim jacket. I've had my rigid Levi's Trucker for a few seasons now, and it's constantly a go-to. But the one thing you can't wear a dark blue jean jacket with is, you guessed it, dark blue jeans, one of the most common staples every guy has.
Wearing a blue denim jacket and blue jeans can be done. But it's tough. Eliminate that nagging voice in the back of your head asking, “Wait, does this count as a Canadian Tuxedo,” while looking in the mirror, and instead go black. Pair your black denim jacket with a marled henley and you've got a casual, dark outfit you can wear almost anywhere.
When you finish everything off with a beautiful pair of brown leather boots, well heck, there's no stopping you. Who says you can't wear black with brown? Not Primer, I promise you that.
Just like leather jackets you want to avoid fake leather boots when at all possible. However, things get harder to spot with boots. A lot of shoe manufacturers use leather that is only technically leather, where they take the least quality leather leftovers and use them as the backing to grain-stamped plastic. The part you see is plastic, but they can still get away with calling them leather. Finding a pair of quality leather boots with a slim profile and sole (making them super versatile) is frustratingly hard. If you can't opt for the $370 Wolverine 1000 Miles, you've been traditionally stuck with fashion boots.
I've had these Thursday Boot Presidents ($199) for a couple of years now and really love them. Great quality, Goodyear Welted, and full glove lining makes them comfortable right out of the box with minimal wear-in needed. The color and simple, sleek design make them style chameleons, adapting and adding to whatever level of dress you wear them with.
This Timex Expedition is sharp style on a mac and cheese budget. At only $47, it's got a ruggedly sexy vibe that contributes to the overall look in a way a metal watch or dressier watch can't. Ready for something a little better? You can upgrade to a Citizen for $120.
These slim jeans are from a brand I've been wearing for a long time called DSTLD. They're based out of LA (and have a popup shop at Platform in Culver City right now if you're local), and make high quality jeans with a modern fit for only $75. I have a heck of time finding slimmer jeans that aren't too baggy in the thigh and calf, while also having that contemporary narrow taper I'm after. These fit great, and I've actually had them for a couple of years. A few of their models are even made in LA, including this pair. For friends that I've turned onto both Thursday Boots and DSTLD, they've been very happy.
What do you think of this look?