If you made the investment in a great leather jacket, you probably don’t want to quit wearing it just because the temperatures are approaching freezing and snow seems more likely than rain. But many guys are unsure of how to wear a leather jacket during the winter months. After all, the familiar pairing of a T-shirt and jeans just isn’t going to cut it when you need to stay warm.
Fortunately, with a bit of preparation, chances are good that you’ll be able to make your leather jacket work in the winter. Follow these four easy steps to figure out the best way to wear your leather jacket even during the coldest months of the year.
1. Assess the practicality
Before you start mentally building all kinds of winter outfits around your leather jacket, think carefully about what you can and can’t wear with the jacket. Is it extremely slim-fitting? Then you probably won’t be able to wear that bulky fisherman knit sweater. Are the sleeves cut tight? Then you’ll be limited on how many layers you can really wear underneath. And what if the jacket is cut pretty short? You can probably wear some of your favorite sweaters and thermals underneath, but don’t count on layering longer pieces, like a sportcoat underneath.
2. Protect the leather
Before you even think about wearing your leather jacket out into snowy or rainy weather, make sure that the leather is protected against the elements. Take a look at the tags inside the jacket to figure out whether it’s water-resistant already. If it isn’t, treat the leather with a protectant specifically formulated for the kind of jacket you have (the protectant you choose will vary whether your jacket is leather or suede). Follow the directions carefully, and make sure that you let the treatment dry adequately before wearing the jacket out of the house. It’s important to periodically repeat the treatment to keep the leather supple and water-resistant.
3. Layer, layer, layer
Here’s the fun part. Even if your jacket is lightly insulated, you’re probably going to need to wear some warm layers underneath. Consider pieces like a chunky wool sweater or a light down shell, both of which are ideal candidates in that they can add a lot of warmth underneath a not-so-warm piece of outerwear. And if you’re used to wearing a longer wool topcoat or down coat, make sure that you don’t forget about your legs. Adding a base layer, like thermal long underwear or compression leggings, can go a long way toward keeping you warm without the coverage of a longer coat.
4. Accessorize wisely
Though your hands might stay warm enough when you stuff them into the pockets of that heavy wool topcoat, your leather jacket probably won’t offer quite the same benefit. Invest in a hat, a scarf, and a pair of gloves — preferably in a versatile color that pairs well with most of your favorite pieces, so you won’t be tempted to throw caution to the wind and leave them behind due to a case of clashing colors.
5. If all else fails, consider a new jacket
Sometimes your spring and fall-friendly leather jacket just doesn’t cut it during the winter, even with the most diligent of layering efforts. If you’re still determined to wear a leather jacket in the winter, you can consider purchasing a new jacket. There are a few popular styles — the flight jacket, the motorcycle jacket, and the cafe racer jacket. But if you’re going to make the investment in another jacket, look for one with significant insulation; perhaps even consider channeling the 1970’s with a jacket with a shearling lining and collar. As with any expensive item, it’s important to evaluate what you need, what style will be most versatile for you, and what you’re willing to spend before you step into a store.