Ahh, the humble biker jacket. I feel like mine has been lingering in the wardrobe lately feeling a little unloved, but really it’s the perfect jacket for the spring. Leather (or pleather if you’re that way inclined) is showerproof, it’s warm, without being TOO warm, it can be smart or casual. In short, it’s a very useful jacket to have, but I think I’ve forgotten how to wear one.
Back in the day it was all black leather jackets and black skinny jeans, or even further back it was teamed with purple paisley shirts and net skirts. The uniform of every 80s suburban goth. Just add badly kohl-ringed eyes, hair shaved at the sides (sidebar: this was a terrible idea, it took a year to grow back to the same length as the rest of my hair) and a soundtrack by the Mission and The Cure.
I bought my first leather jacket with the £50 prize money I got from winning a local textiles art competition (seeing as you asked, I designed a pair of deckchair-printed Bermuda shorts). My mother dragged me out of my teenage bed of misery to go down to the Civic Hall to have my photo taken for the local paper. As you can see, I was thrilled. But I knew exactly where I was going with that £50 clutched in my sweaty palm, and hightailed it directly to Kensington Market that very weekend.
Hard to believe now that the mecca of leather and patchouli joss sticks was on chichi High St Kensington. It’s now a Whole Foods, literally couldn’t be any more middle class. But back then it was the ONLY place for part-time suburban goths to go for all their alternative wares. I even got my nose pierced there. Probably the most annoying thing ever. I lasted just 3 months with that horrible thing in my face. It made me sneeze and wince in pain every time I touched it. Plus, 30 years later, I STILL have the hole! I advise any teenager that’s thinking of doing it not to. So far, my strike rate is zero: they did it anyway.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a good leather jacket for less than £200 now. £50 might buy you pleather though. I’ll add some of those to the extra items under each section. Here’s 5 of the best black leather biker jackets on the market and how to wear them. Purple tie-dye leggings and winklepickers not included.
BIKER AND SUMMER DRESS
I’m not pushing any boundaries here, this is the basic summer uniform for a lot of us. Switch out the biker for denim when the weather picks up. Add your secret leggings for a pub garden. Although, as of Monday, we can GO INSIDE! This is infinitely exciting. I’ve already booked 5 lunches in over the next 2 weeks. That’s one of the things I’ve really missed, just a nice lunch with a friend. One I don’t have to cook myself, and ideally I can eat so much that I can just have a packet of Mini Cheddars (Red Leicester preference) for dinner.
BIKER AND CASUAL TROUSERS
Wondering what you’re going to do with all that loungewear you bought last year? Adding a leather biker jacket seems to just elevate it from ‘slobbing around the house’, to ‘look, I can wear this outside too’. I’ve seen others wear tracksuit trousers with ‘real’ shoes but I can’t quite get on board with that, especially not with high heels. Feels a bit J-Lo in the P Diddy years to me. But I’m all for a high pony and a white shirt with a side-stripe jogger and a biker. Stick with the trainers though, I reckon.
This Set Tyler leather jacket is the one I have. I’ve waxed lyrical in the past on how much I love it. It’s the softest leather with a jersey lining, so I never get sweaty or sticky in it. Quite hard to find stockists. I got mine from Black White Denim in Wilmslow. Annabelle in Essex also sells it online. Maybe check your local independent boutique as I know some of the smaller boutiques stock Set. I love it so much I bought one for my mum a few Christmases ago.
BIKER AND MIDI SKIRT
Talking of a high pony and a white shirt, why not try this with a midi skirt? This look is a little bit Sandy-from-Grease but for modern day. I always preferred what she looked like pre-transformation. I’m not sure any of us can pull off the skin tight disco pants, bouffant hair and stilettos anymore, but we can still team a biker with a circle skirt. I’m kind of into wearing socks with shoes right now. I fear a blister at the best of times and socks really do get around that problem. My current favourite socks are these from Le Bon Shoppe.
BIKER AND BOYFRIEND JEANS
I’ve always been a big fan of ‘boyfriend’ jeans. I used to buy men’s jeans, in particular vintage Levi’s 501s, from Rockit in Covent Garden. Still a GREAT vintage shop to visit when you come to London, by the way: they have branches in Camden and in Brick Lane. In fact, Brick Lane has a fantastic vintage market that’s open from Thursday – Sunday. Some really excellent pieces to be found there, I never fail to buy something when I go. If you have teenage boys, you can also take in the Classic Football Shirts shop around the corner. They can spend hours in there and you are free to go and have a cocktail around the corner.
But the problem with buying men’s jeans to wear ‘boyfriend’ style is that they are often cut differently around the crotch area – extra room we ladies don’t need. So these days I look for ladies’ ‘boyfriend’ style jeans instead. My favourite ever pair are these by Raey from Matches, currently only in stock in tiny sizes but they’ve been selling them for 3 years, so keep your eye out for a restock, as they’re excellent jeans.
BIKER AND NEUTRALS
Finally, something for the more understated ladies out there. Pairing your black biker with neutrals is a very classy option for spring, I think. Keep your shoes and some of your accessories black to balance everything out. You can also wear with your white jeans for a more monochrome look, but we’ll get into that next week. Those white jeans from Whistles that I ordered last week are a winner, by the way, so I’m feeling inspired to find ways to wear them on days when I’m not around the dirty dog. By this I mean the actual dog, it’s not a pet name for the husband…
I hope this has encouraged you to dig out your biker jacket again. I shall be wearing mine this week for sure.