What Is A Bomber Jacket? – The Definitive Guide of Bomber Jackets

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Whether you think of World War II pilots, Steve McQueen or Top Gun, the men’s bomber jacket has been around for some time. It is one of the first success stories of military wear bridging the gap to become fashionable civilian wear.

But are men’s bombers jackets still stylish now? Or are they to be relegated to the 20th century? What is a Men’s Bomber Jacket?

Well, The Highest Fashion is here to answer those questions (and more!) about men’s bomber jackets. 

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So, What Is A Bomber Jacket Meaning?

According to The Free Dictionary a bomber jacket is;

“A short sturdy jacket traditionally made of leather and having a fitted waist, a zip front, and often a fleece or pile collar.  Also called flight jacket”

What Was A Bomber Jacket Used For? — Original Bomber Jacket

The first bomber jackets were designed to be a heavy duty and warm garment for fighter pilots in exposed cockpits during the First World War. These were usually made of leather and lined with fur.

By the advent of the Second World War, bomber planes were flying at higher altitudes yet cabins were unprotected from the cold.  Pilots needed an insulating and versatile jacket that would protect them from the elements but not impede the controls of the fighter plane. So a shorter version was born.

After the Second World War, the bomber jacket underwent further pragmatic changes such as the introduction of the now signature orange lining. This was to make pilots visible in the event of a rescue.

Are Bomber Jackets in Style in 2024?

In one word, Yes!

The Bomber Jacket is a classic wardrobe piece which has been linked to various cultures and sub cultures since it started its life as a civilian item of clothing in the 1950’s.

2024 has seen fashion houses such as Paul Smith, Givenchy and Dolce & Gabbana feature them in their latest collections.

Who Wears Bomber Jackets?

Anyone can wear a Bomber Jacket. There are plenty of styles and colours to choose from for just about every occasion (more on that later)

Between the 1960’s and 1980’s, Bomber Jackets were worn by British working class skinheads who dyed their nylon bomber jackets burgundy and coupled them with Doc Marten boots and skinny jeans.  

In 1960’s Japan, the US Military based there had a penchant for ‘souvenir jackets’ – bomber jackets that were often embroidered with excess silk from military parachutes.  This style was adopted by Japanese youth as a statement of rebellion and is often seen in films depicting the Yakuza.

The Bomber Jacket has had another surge in popularity with popular music artists such as Kanye West and The Weeknd lauding them. “For me, bomber jackets are smart, but they are also street and have a lot of attitude.” – The Weeknd

What Is A Bomber Jacket Made Of?

What Is A Bomber Jacket Made Of
Source: Instagram

As mentioned before, the first flight jackets were made of leather with a fur collar and lining.  This became a knitted collar so as not to interfere with the opening of parachutes. Leather straps were also added for oxygen masks.

From 1945, nylon was used as it was cheaper, water resistant and could wick away perspiration of the pilot.

As the bomber jacket infiltrated civilian fashions, the collars began to be made of acrylic instead of cotton or wool which could easily degrade when not in constant use.

Nowadays, Bomber Jackets are made from a variety of materials. These include leather, wool, silk, satin and suede.

Different Bomber Jackets Materials

What Is A Leather Bomber Jacket?

Leather is a durable material that has been used to protect one from the elements for centuries.  Leather Bomber Jackets are usually 100% leather – although sometimes you can find another material – and a great choice for a winter jacket.

What Is A Suede Bomber Jacket?

Suede is a soft finish of leather that comes from the underside of the animal hide. Real suede is not very durable. So, whilst a real suede bomber jacket is great for summer, it will not withstand rain. (Think Seinfeld Season 2 Episode 3 “The Jacket”).

What Is A Satin Bomber Jacket?

Satin is actually a weave, not a fabric, made up of different filament fibres such as silk, wool and nylon. A Satin Bomber Jacket is a bomber jacket made from a satin weave that could be a blend of any filament fibres that give the sheen associated with satin.

What Is A Silk Bomber Jacket?

Silk is a natural, raw material coming from the silk worm. A silk bomber jacket would be made from this yarn and can be 100% silk or could be a silk satin.

What Is A Wool Bomber Jacket?

A Wool Bomber Jacket would be a bomber jacket made from wool or a wool synthetic blend. Most often, a woollen bomber jacket is associated with a Varsity or Letterman jacket. 

What Is A Nylon Bomber Jacket?

As mentioned before, at the latter end of the 1940’s, military bomber jackets began to be made from nylon.  Nowadays nylon, or nylon blends, are the go-to for lightweight bomber jackets.

What Is A Solid Bomber Jacket?

Quite simply, a solid bomber jacket is a bomber jacket that is just one single colour throughout – excluding zippers or buttons.

When Can I Wear A Bomber Jacket?

Well, depending on which bomber jacket you have and the materials it has been crafted with, you can wear one at any time of the year.

The beauty of a bomber jacket is that it can be layered up or down. Remember that if you wear a hoodie underneath, you need to make sure that it is not too thick so that you keep the silhouette of your bomber jacket. You’re not wearing a puffer jacket!

Can I Wear A Bomber Jacket In The Spring Or Autumn?

For spring or autumn, there are a number of jackets on the market that will provide that little bit of protection from those unexpected chilly gusts of wind.

bomber jacket guide

The Highest Fashion would recommend that you wear a polyester bomber jacket such as the Calvin Klein Rip Stop. This wind and water resistant, lightweight jacket is perfect for seasons which can have a nip in the air.

Can I Wear A Bomber Jacket In The Summer?

Another simple answer, Yes!

Tommy Hilfiger’s Faux Memory Bomber is a lightweight synthetic bomber that’s great for those late summer evenings.  It is machine washable and has an on trend look, which makes it a go to closet item.

Can I Wear A Bomber Jacket In The Winter?

As mentioned earlier, bomber jackets were created to protect pilots from the cold when at high altitudes.  So there are plenty to choose from for winter! 

A real leather bomber jacket is perfect as a winter coat. The Genu Skin Men B3 Aviator has a sheepskin lining and is 100% real leather. 

Bomber jackets are usually cinched at the waist but there are longer lengths available for winter.  This cosy Shearling Leather Coat offers a statement look and a bit more protection for those really chilly days.  Brrr!  

Are Bomber Jackets Waterproof?

There are plenty of non-leather waterproof and water resistant bomber jackets available nowadays.

Remember the difference between the two;

Waterproof bomber jackets have taped seams and a waterproof fabric membrane.  They are suitable for heavy rain.

Water resistant means the fabric has been treated with a water repellent but the seams are not taped. So, whilst these jackets are ok for a light shower, they won’t cut the mustard with heavier rainfall. 

How Should A Men’s Bomber Jacket Fit?

A bomber jacket is designed to fit you well across the shoulders and hips, so avoid buying an oversized jacket as it will look chunky and heavy.

Equally, don’t opt for a bomber jacket that is undersized.  Bomber jackets are supposed to sit at the waist with the cuffs on the wrist, anything else will undermine the silhouette and you need to be able to zip up the front of the bomber jacket.

Should A Bomber Jacket Be Tight?

As mentioned, the bomber jacket should sit nicely on your shoulders.  If it’s too tight it will limit your movement.

Although the very first bomber jackets were large, they now have a slimmer design to rest relatively close to your body whilst allowing for layering.

Equally, avoid purchasing a bomber jacket that is too big as the drop off your shoulders will be incongruous to the cut of the bomber jacket.

Traditional bomber jackets are cinched at the waist and nowadays they should rest at the waist or hip line.

Can a Bomber Jacket Be Tailored?

As we mentioned in What is a Windbreaker Jacket?, tailors are magicians. They really are!

Tailors have the ability to transform a garment into anything you dream of. Or they can take your own design and create a masterpiece.

Never underestimate the power of a decent tailor. To learn more about tailoring, visit our 411 on tailoring for men!

What Colour Bomber Jacket Should I Get?

Like the rest of fashion today, there are bomber jackets in every colour. Therefore, the colour to buy depends very much on your own preference and the look you want to achieve, as well as the occasion.

You can purchase jackets of one style in different colours such as the Amazon Essentials Lightweight  Bomber Jacket or focus on styles with duel coloration such as this Brown and Orange B-3

There are even sparkly nightclub bomber jackets out there! 

What Are The Different Types of Bomber Jacket?

There are a myriad of styles, shapes and themes to the Bomber Jackets produced today. Here are just a few to consider

Traditional Bomber Jacket

B-3 Bomber Jacket

The B-3 Bomber Jacket was introduced around 1934 and was designed for those pilots going up to the higher altitudes. The combination of leather and fleece ensured that pilots were protected as they soared through the skies. This timeless piece still provides excellent protection to its wearers.

MA-1 Bomber Jacket

MA-1 Bomber Jacket  Alpha Industries Outfit
Source: Instagram

In 1963 Alpha Industries were awarded the contract to produce the now iconic MA-1 bomber jacket.  This corner stone of style, in sage green with an orange lining, is synonymous with US Military bomber jackets and has stood the test of time.

Varsity or Letterman Jacket

Although originally designed at the turn of the last century by US University baseball teams, the Varsity Jacket has taken inspiration from bomber jackets to become what they are today by reflecting the silhouette of a bomber jacket. Usually made of cotton or wool, they are comfortable and easy to wear.

Leather: To be or not to be?

For those not wanting to buy leather, but still enjoying the look of it, we’ve included a couple of faux/synthetic leather and suede coats for you.

6 Trendy Rough and Tough Leather Jackets For an Elegant Look

These 6 leather jackets will make you infuse fierceness and attitude in your outfits. You can´t miss this article about the most trendy leather jackets!

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This Faux Suede Bomber Jacket just reeks of sophistication and style. This straight cut, shirt jacket is a perfect summer piece that is reminiscent of the early A-2 bomber jackets.

The eyebrow raising name of Vegan Bomber Jacket accompanies this stylish 100% polyurethane that gives you the suave, sophisticated look of a man about town, without the guilt!

Bomber Jackets in Pop Culture

It would be remiss not to include two of the most famous bomber jacket wearers…

Indiana Jones Bomber Jacket

indiana jones bomber jacket

If you want to mimic the look of Indiana Jones, then don a fedora and an A-2 and you will be set! The A-2 was a bomber jacket that was used by pilots at the start of the Second World War. This sturdy, ageless piece will never fail to impress

Top Gun Bomber Jacket

The G-1 bomber jacket, famously worn by Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun, is still used by US Naval Aviation personnel today. This, usually, leather jacket has a synthetic lining and rimmed cuffs. You’ll need to supply your own aviator sunglasses and motorbike though!

How Do I Care For My Bomber Jacket?

How to Wash A Bomber Jacket

Without teaching you to suck eggs, ALWAYS READ THE LABEL! It’s true! When buying your bomber jacket, check the specifications as they are usually listed, so then you know how to wash your bomber jacket and whether that’s feasible for where you live.

Remember, leather and suede bomber jackets will need to be treated. They are usually dry clean only.

The general rule of thumb is that synthetic materials can be machine washed with regular detergent, but at a cooler temperature.

Can You Iron A Bomber Jacket?

Again, check the label. If your bomber jacket can be ironed, check that you have the iron at the right temperature and perhaps iron through a towel to protect your bomber jacket.

Can You Shrink A Bomber Jacket?

If you put any clothing item made of nylon, wool or polyester into a dryer, it is likely to shrink. 

Equally, washing those items in hot water has the potential to shrink them.

Check the label and follow the instructions.

What to Wear with A Men’s Bomber Jacket? — Bomber Jacket Outfits for Men in 2024

The versatility of the Men’s Bomber Jacket knows no bounds. It can be dressed up or down; be casual or formal. There is such a variety of looks that you can wear the same jacket daily but look different each day.

How to Wear a Casual Bomber Jacket?

A pair of jeans, sneakers and a T-Shirt will guarantee a stylish and casual look. It can be as simple as that!

If it is cooler, a sweat shirt or a thin hoodie will go equally as well.

For a slightly smarter yet still casual look, team a turtle neck with your bomber jacket. Add a pair of Chelsea boots and you are on to a winner!

How to Wear a Casual Bomber Jacket?

Can a Bomber Jacket be Business Casual?

The activist and author, Karamo Brown, says that “Bomber jackets, for me, are the new blazers. They’re something I can wear with suit pants or slacks.”

Remember, suede bomber jackets look sophisticated, so think about that if you are looking for a dressier, stylish aesthetic. Think about tones such as beige, brown and stone to complement the suede.

suede bomber jackets outfit
Source: Instagram

Another thing to consider for a business casual bomber jacket is a neutral shape. Avoid too many zips, labels and pockets. 

Also, look at having a block colour and refrain from a satin or shiny bomber finish.

Once coupled with a collared shirt and chinos or slacks, add leather trainers or Derby shoes and you’re ready to go!

Can A Bomber Jacket be Formal?

The fabric and cut of your bomber jacket dictates how easy it is to style up or down.

High-end bomber jackets have long been inspired by blazers, so it is easy to find a sophisticated look that can be enhanced by layering.

Opt for neutral tones, such as black, and match your collared shirt and dress trousers to achieve that formal appearance.

To quote The Weeknd again, “For my generation, the bomber jacket is like a replacement for the suit jacket.  It’s a piece that men wear every day, and it’s something that I would wear for any occasion.”

Final Word — Men’s Bomber Jacket Guide

As we said at the start, the Men’s Bomber Jacket is a classic piece should be a staple of every man’s wardrobe.  Its versatility has not dampened over the years and here at The Highest Fashion, we look forward to seeing continue to feature on the streets and catwalks.