So called style essentials come and go but the suede jacket is a stalwart. From Steve McQueen in the 1970s to Brad Pitt and Daniel Craig today, it remains a go-to item for the gentleman who wants to make a statement without being brash, to look smart but still effortlessly laid back.
On top of this, despite its soft-to-the-touch hide, invest in quality and it will last you the best part of your life; poor imitations don’t just look bad, they feel and smell wrong too. On the cut, keeping it classic is key, as you’ll see in our pick of the best below…
The Cowboy - Oliver Spencer
This beautiful dusty pink jacket from Oliver Spencer is an ideal addition to your wardrobe this spring. Lightweight and multi-pocketed, it has all the nuances and fine craft we’ve come to expect of the self-taught British designer. It’s this and Spencer’s focus on the provenance of materials, sourcing the finest yarns and fabrics from British and Italian mills, that has seen him grow from an art school dropout to catwalk shows and international acclaim.
Style Tip: The designer’s mantra of “casual needn’t mean careless” is one for us all to live by. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘over-styling’ this jacket, it’s more about what you don’t do than what you do. Avoid wearing strong and heavy colours that will fight with the subtle tones, instead opt for understated neutrals such as a summer-sun-ready pair of white jeans (the perfect partner to help channel your inner Steve McQueen).
Cowboy Jacket by Oliver Spencer
The Trucker - AMI
A truly great jacket is like a man’s best friend – reliable, honest and long-lasting (shame it won’t get the first round in too). This one certainly fits that bill and it’s especially appropriate comping from the brand Ami, meaning ‘friend’ in French. Founded in 2011 by Alexandre Mattiussi, a man boasting experience at the mammoth design houses of Dior, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, the Parisian label has swiftly built a reputation as one to watch. This rugged trucker jacket sums the brand up perfectly: casual, nonchalant yet seriously chic.
Style Tip: Just because this most manly of jackets has its history in the highways and byways of Middle America, doesn’t mean you should wear it like fancy dress. That means going without the beat-up sweaty cap, chewing ‘tobaccy’ and CB radio-style banter. Instead, keep it clean-lined and simple with a slim-legged chino in a warm and neutral tone such as beige, and a fine gauge knit. Finish off with a suede Derby shoe for extra style points.
Suede Jacket by AMI
The Biker - Balmain at Mr Porter
As far back as 1953 when Marlon Brando donned zip-heavy leather in The Wild One, this look has been a go-to for the most masculine of men. His iconic character Johnny, with sideburns and tilted cap, has influenced some of pop culture’s biggest hitters, Elvis and James Dean included. The style was picked up again in the ‘70s by the punk scene that only furthered its reputation as a symbol of rebellion, and it’s lost none of its edge since. This number, by French fashion house Balmain, perfectly blends the rough with the smooth to create a luxury must-own item.
Style Tip: If your wardrobe was an episode of Bake Off, then this jacket is The Show Stopper. From its quality ‘made in France’ construction to the glamorous yet tasteful polished silver zips, everything about it makes it the star. When it comes to styling, even if you throw it on with black jeans and a tee you’ll still look the money. This is a jacket with a big enough personality to push the boundaries, so why not try teaming it with tailoring for a full glam look.
Suede Biker Jacket by Balmain at Mr Porter
The Blouson - Lanvin at Matches
With its boxy silhouette, neat pointed collar and contrasting ribbed-knit back hem panel, this elegant take on a classic blouson is an investment worthy of any man’s style arsenal. Designed by Lanvin, France’s oldest operating fashion house (1889 in case you ask) and made in Italy, this certainly ticks the box for refinement. Each detail is highly considered, all the way through to a luxurious black satin interior. What’s more the tanned lamb suede will only get softer and more supple with age, like a quality pair of shoes, seeing you through decades of glorious springs and summers.
Style Tip: Both versatile and timeless, this piece will go with almost any casual item you happen to own but where it shines its brightest is with the current trend for sport luxe. Pairing with high-end tailored tracksuit pants might not be the first thing that comes to your mind, but it’s certainly a look that is on-point in the style stakes.
Zip-Through Suede Jacket by Lanvin at Matches
The Bomber - Berluti
Like a lot of great menswear, the bomber jacket unsurprisingly has its roots in military uniform, and has developed as time, technology and wars have moved on. It was originally created in 1917 for pilots who had to fly in open cockpits but it wasn’t until World War II, when it was adapted for airmen flying at over 25,000 ft in freezing temperatures, that it became more or less the iconic jacket that we know today. An essential bit of kit for daring pilots and self-respecting style hounds alike.
Style Tip: Not familiar with Berluti? Then take a look at their current and soon to come style directors, Haider Ackermann and Kris Van Assche (respectively). That should be enough to convince you this is a serious fashion house, and their list of past and present patrons including Jean Cocteau, Alain Delon, Frank Sinatra and Hollywood’s rising star Timothée Chalamet cementing that fact. When you’re in this sort of company trying too hard is the worst thing you could do. Keep it simple and casual with denim and a smart pair of trainers.
Calfskin Suede Jacket by Berluti