The most affordable—and chic—leather jackets I could find

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I have received many, many requests for a post like this during my nearly eight years(!) of doing GOACA, and I’ve always avoided it, because for one, we all have different ideas of what affordable means. And also because leather jackets are so damned expensive—and the really cheap ones are so often poorly constructed and, well, cheap-looking—that I figured it was an impossible task. And, as it turns out, it’s not an easy one.  I’d love to tell you that the perfect specimen can be had for under $100, but unless you’re willing to pick through the weeds on Etsy or at your local thrift store, that just isn’t the case. A good leather jacket is pretty much always an investment purchase, but I have found some that maybe won’t make you weep (or at least not copiously) when you receive your Amex bill, starting with this moto style from Madewell, which also comes in black.

I just posted this one from Everlane last week, but it’s one of the best of the bunch—so streamlined and un-fussy—that you’ll perhaps forgive me for posting it again.

Allsaints has a ton of leather jackets, and while they’re among the priciest that I included in this post, I think they’re also the best. I like the cropped look and lack of hardware on this one.

Also from Allsaints, and also free of extraneous zippers, embellishments, and pockets: this shrunken bomber, which would look fantastic paired with a flowy floral dress.

There’s something quite delightfully 90s about a leather jean jacket, and this one looks buttery-soft, and goes for just under $150. I also like this off-white number.

I was hesitant to include this quilted jacket, because it’s from Mango, who I mostly don’t include here these days because so few of their clothes are available in sizes bigger than medium. But I just think it’s so good that I had to.

From Violeta, which is Mango’s extended sizes offshoot: a cool moto style with a little bit of extra length.

I set the price cap for this post at $500, and this jacket goes for just a hair above that, but I love its high collar and slim fit.

As you are maybe aware, I love a hoodie, and was obsessed with this one from Vince when it was in their store a while back. It’s at Nordstrom Rack now, priced at about half of what it originally retailed for.

I like the belt detail on this one from Universal Standard.

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26 Thoughts on The most affordable—and chic—leather jackets I could find
    Tamara Heather
    1 Nov 2019
    8:11pm

    Being petite, there are some things I’ve just had to accept I will never own, and a leather jacket is one of them. First the hunt to find something narrow enough through the shoulders, then STILL having to probably get the sleeve length tailored, which I can only imagine the cost of THAT added to the cost of the jacket itself. Ah well, I do love all these choices though, and wish it was a possibility for me!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    4 Nov 2019
    12:53am

    Does anyone remember OAK for leather jackets and other kind of tough chick wear? I could only find suede ones on their site now, and that doesn’t count. I’m toying with the idea of the Universal Standard jacket – seems to be a bit longer (i.e. perfect for me) and not “shrunken.” Really cool selection, Kim, and great prices.

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    c.w.
    1 Nov 2019
    4:07pm

    I received my Everlane leather jacket and while the color and style are perfect (the Storm Blue is a more blue/grey color which I love) the fit is T I G H T. I would probably have to size up two sizes for it to fit through the shoulders (I do pilates so I do have muscular shoulders), but also for the crop––the size I ordered (my usual size) came to just below my ribcage. I really want the jacket in a larger size, but I’m worried the sleeves will then be down over my knuckles. Argh. On the other hand I received my faded black 6397 jeans and they are soooooo PERFECT I’m ordering another pair immediately (I ordered my usual size, but might size down on my next pair).

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    MariaO
    1 Nov 2019
    2:54pm

    I ordered that Marc New York leather jean jacket – I’ve wanted one for a while, to wear as a light jacket in the office.
    Hopefully it works – they were out in a L, and I went for a M, which often (but now always) works for tops for me. Fingers crossed!

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    Joannawnyc
    1 Nov 2019
    11:50am

    If you can’t afford a new one, try eBay for vintage! That’s where I got my belted leather car coat. Set up a search and be patient … the Real Real, Poshmark, and Thread Up are also good sources. Know your measurements and be cklear about what you want.

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      Roberta
      1 Nov 2019
      5:03pm

      Yep, I am here to say the same thing. I have a closet full of great leather jackets, all but one from eBay. I have a glove-soft red one, a snake print/textured zip front, and a pale grey version that I can wear as a blazer. The one jacket that I bought new is still fairly stiff, another advantage to letting someone else break the jacket in for you.

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    MaryAlice
    1 Nov 2019
    12:00pm

    Kim, thank you for being aware of Mango’s weird, restrictive sizing. It makes me angry that a major retailer generally tops out at size 10 and considers anything above that to be plus sized.

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    Judy
    1 Nov 2019
    12:02pm

    I got the Everlane jacket in black and am very pleased with it..Nice quality leather and simple, clean design. It does run small so good thing I ordered an XL (I like to be able to fit a sweater underneath). Only glitch is the sleeves (which have zippers) are too long so need shortening. On that note..I discovered that my local Nordstrom does alterations on outside garments and they work on a lot of leather so I’m trusting them to do the job

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    Jax
    1 Nov 2019
    12:22pm

    The Madewell — the leather quality and thinnness are perfect for California — but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger for 5 years now. It’s just too short for me, even though I’m petite. Wardrobe Oxygen just raved about that Universal Standard jacket. I love the All Saints jackets but not their lack of size inclusivity. Same with many other leather jacket brands – Iro, Muubaa, Lamarque, Mackage — same issue.
    I do own a couple nice quality Lucky Brand moto jackets. Look out for their sales (40-50% off). And check Anthro and Free People — they get some good jackets from time to time. –
    And I owned a leather jeans jacket in the 90s. I bought it from Express or the Limited. It had horrible buttons (pearl with gold trim) and my mom painstakingly replaced all the buttons. It’s not easy sowing through leather!!!

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    M
    1 Nov 2019
    12:43pm

    Love this post! But you have the wrong link for the jacket with this caption: “I set the price cap for this post at $500, and this jacket goes for just a hair above that, but I love its high collar and slim fit.” It’s going to a Mango dress right now.

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      Kim France
      1 Nov 2019
      1:30pm

      Thanks for the heads up, M. Link is fixed.

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    Rebecca
    1 Nov 2019
    11:28am

    I got a leather biker jacket for my 16th birthday. At the time, my hometown of Winnipeg still had garment factories in the downtown, and my father and I went down to one to pick it up from a factory store. It had a quilted lining, and was actually one of the warmest coats I have ever had (which is good, if you know Winnipeg). Sadly, I no longer have it…

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    Robin
    1 Nov 2019
    11:01am

    The Madewell jacket is available in extended sizes on the Madewell site, but not through Nordstrom.

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    Mary
    1 Nov 2019
    9:34am

    “You get what you pay for” definitely applies to leather jackets, in my opinion.

    I remember trying one on that looked fantastic and it was at a great price point. But I honestly smelled like meat – it was revolting.

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      Mamavalveeta03
      4 Nov 2019
      12:59am

      I think Lady Gaga had the same brand, but in a dress.

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    CeeJay
    1 Nov 2019
    9:47am

    Isabel Marant leather jackets on the RealReal -you can usually get one for $300-400 and they are the best. I got mine 3 years ago and wear it all the time.

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      CC
      1 Nov 2019
      11:46am

      I was going to stump for used/consignment, too: I got a tags-on Iro leather jacket in a strange, cool color and took the leap because it was $200, not $1,200. Beyond worth it.

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    suz
    1 Nov 2019
    9:10am

    Love this post. I have been looking for a blk leather trucker jacket – so very 90s, yeah – for a while now. This is pefect. So, yay. I also adore the shrunken girl-Fonzie bomber, but All Saints doesn’t make jackets that fit my chest, they seem to only go up to a size 10

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    c.w.
    1 Nov 2019
    8:54am

    I have tried on the Madewell jacket and can attest to how beautifully soft it is and it fit me well––highly recommend. I have ordered the Everlane and am anxiously waiting for it to arrive! A couple of years ago I ordered three different AllSaints jackets and ended up sending them all back––the fit was off for me, I have no idea if this was just a one-off experience or if my body doesn’t fit their sizing standards or what––but all three jackets were outstanding. For me a leather jacket is a commitment––and they last forever––so I do believe you have to pay a little more in order to have the quality you need for that commitment. One of those hard facts of fashion.

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      Kimbersam
      1 Nov 2019
      9:39am

      I have problems with All Saints sizing also (although I love their leather jackets). Their fit model must be super petite and skinny with string bean arms, plus they use the UK fit. I can make some of their stuff work if I go up two sizes.

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        Rebecca
        1 Nov 2019
        11:23am

        Yes, my all saints jeans are a full 2 sizes larger than my usual size. It was quite crushing….

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    Bethany Ball
    1 Nov 2019
    8:55am

    These are all great. I love the Everlane. I’m still wearing the Emerson leather coat I bought about five years ago. But I must admit I am looking forward to the day when a cool leather coat isn’t so cropped. I would love a coat to cover my rear. Or at least cover the fact that I don’t have so much waist anymore.

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      Carrie
      1 Nov 2019
      12:57pm

      Great post! I was on the hunt a few yrs ago for a leather jacket that had a cool and polished vibe but most importantly, one that was at least hip length. My hunt was long and challenging and time consuming. I felt both overwhelmed and discouraged by the options even though I was willing to invest in the right jacket. I gave up because I couldn’t find it. BUT… I ended up buying a gorgeous navy utility leather jacket from the Gap! I couldn’t believe it! I was online Xmas shopping for my niece when I discovered it and took the chance. I remember it was around $450 and I was seriously impressed with the quality and the style. I broke it out for a visit to NYC in February 2017 at which time there was incredible spring like weather and it was absolutely perfect. During the past 2.5 yrs it’s been worn regularly and I am still in love with it! Glad to see there are some good options here and thanks Kim for this excellent post!

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    Jenny
    2 Nov 2019
    5:17pm

    I like leather jackets that have the band collar that’s a bit like a Mandarin collar. (I feel like it looks less like I’m trying hard to be something that I’m not.)
    What is that style called? Is the reason that there are none here because they’re super out of style?

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      Jenny
      2 Nov 2019
      5:31pm

      Ahh. I see there’s one from Violeta but it’s too long for me. I like shorter jackets.

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      Kim France
      3 Nov 2019
      9:56am

      You call them band collars, and they’re definitely not out of style, Jenny; I’d say they’re classics.

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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