The most impractical form of outerwear, the suede jacket, is one of our favourite. The soft nap of the fabric, so pleasing to the touch, evokes a sense of indulgence from what might otherwise be an unremarkable garment. A cotton overshirt is a cotton shirt. If you swap the cloth for brushed cowhide, it will become a low-key luxury piece.
The great thing about a jacket is that it is suede. It has a way of giving even simple outfits an air of luxury, but it doesn’t raise any eyebrows. It is the perfect way to say goodbye to a simple outfit with a touch of class.
This is why we believe a suede jacket to be the type of garment every style-savvy man should own at some point in his life. But there are a few things to know before taking the plunge. From how to keep the fabric looking as good as new to which brands are making the best versions, below you’ll find all of the need-to-know details.
Buying A Suede Jacket: What To Consider
It’s a mainstay of screen style icons from James Bond to Jerry Seinfeld, who dedicated an entire episode to an admittedly fine suede jacket. If you’re going to follow suit, however, you need to find the style that works for you. These are the main factors to ponder.
Jerry agonises over a jacket with a less-than- delicious price tag in the episode. All of us have been there. You can drop a mortgage payment on a luxury jacket, but it is one of those garments where you really get what you pay for.
If you want to break the bank, you need to look for exceptional fineness in the nap and believable softness on the touch. It feels rougher when you buy cheap suede.
The kind of suede you are buying is related to that point. Lambskin and goatskin are said to be the softer of the two, while cowhide and pigskin are more durable. You could also consider leather. This has a similar feel but is actually made from the top grain of an animal’s hide, like regular leather, and sanded down.
Microsuede is one of the better faux-suede options if you want to go animal-free. It is plastic-based so you won’t be saving the planet, just your wallet, and it is made from polyester.
You might think that the colour of your jacket is easy to understand. The classic, cowboy-friendly jacket is tan or brown. It is still timeless. It goes with everything. It’s not very predictable. Black doesn’t mix as well as modern black. It makes sense to buy ink blue, concrete grey and forest greens if you want a big purchase than if you want to buy pastels. We are not here to make a decision. You do that.
Buying a suede jacket involves many of the same considerations as buying any other style of jacket. Think about the fit, length, and details. This one won’t be cheap and you should think about what else is in your wardrobe. If you don’t like the style of a suede jacket, you can check out overshirts, chore jackets, and sometimes a longer blouson or field jacket. For more inspiration, see below.
Types Of Suede Jacket
There are a few tried and tested silhouettes that always look the part, even though they can be made from suede. These are the types of jackets you should be looking for if you want a jacket that will fit into your wardrobe and won’t date quickly.
The overshirt is our suede jacket of choice. It’s simple, versatile, stylish and about as timeless as it gets. A classic overshirt will usually have a button or zip front, two chest pockets and a collar. These details can vary slightly from piece to piece, but generally it’s any garment that sits at the intersection between shirt and jacket.
The juxtaposition of the bomber jacket’s military roots with the indulgent texture of suede makes for a great piece of outerwear. A proper suede bomber should have a cropped fit with an elasticated hem and cuffs, be collarless and have a zip fastening to the front. We love the way this piece brings smart and casual together, resulting in a garment that can be dressed up or down with ease.
Contrary to popular belief, biker jackets don’t have to be black and rendered in smooth leather. The same attitude but with an added touch of refinement can be found in a suede version. If you like the idea of a biker jacket but don’t like the classic leather variety, the same style in suede might be the perfect solution.
A biker jacket with an asymmetric zip will have the same features as its leathery counterpart. A belt to the waist and zips to the cuffs might be included in some of them.
The way to go for something a bit more casual and subtle is a suede trucker jacket. When finished in chestnut brown or navy, this classic piece of blue-collar Americana is perfect in suede. It should have a button fastening to the front and a button pocket in the chest.
The Best Suede Jacket Brands
The brands that excel when it comes to this luxurious type of outerwear are the ones that are ready to add a suede jacket to their arsenal.
East London’s AllSaints is a brand that makes leather jackets, but the options are just as good as the leather ones. For the quality on offer, AllSaints’ prices are extremely reasonable, and while they might not be rock bottom, it’s worth remembering that these are suede jackets we’re talking about, not the most affordable outerwear option on the market.
With that in mind, AllSaints is an excellent value option for anyone looking for a well-made garment that won’t completely drain the bank account.
Buy now at AllSaints
There are small runs of thoughtfully designed pieces that walk the line between the past and the future. Classic worker and western-style cuts are brought up to date with rich colors and details in their’suede’ jackets.
They are made from vegan-friendly cotton, which is the same material as leather, so you don’t have to wear cotton in the pocket.
Buy now at Percival
A high-street name with an emphasis on luxury, Reiss (featured image, top) is a brand well known for delivering quality suede jackets that won’t leave you bankrupt. Bombers and truckers are the two silhouettes we feel the British brand excels at, while a classic, muted colour palette guarantees optimal versatility from each and every one.
Buy now at Reiss
Luxurious, contemporary basics are what Todd Synder does best and it’s difficult to think of any garment that fits that description better than a suede jacket. The American brand’s offering varies from season to season but tends to come in the form of chore coats, trucker jackets and overshirts, all boasting Synder’s trademark attention to detail and craftsmanship.
Todd Synder is the place to buy now.
The leather jacket has been a key feature of French label Saint Lauren’s output since the 1960s. The biker silhouette, in particular, is something of a Saint Laurent trademark and looks arguably even better in soft velvety suede than it does in its signature soft, black leather.
Not cheap, but if you want the Rolls Royce of suede jackets, this historic fashion house should be your first port of call.
Buy now at SSENSE
Valstar was founded in Milan in the early 1900s and has built a reputation for making some of Italy’s finest outerwear. Since the 1930s, leather flight jackets have been the label’s bread and butter and, in our humble opinion, it remains the best brand out there for suede bombers and aviators.
Buy now at MR PORTER
Dunhill walks a fine line between forward-looking fashion and old-as-stones traditionalism. The quality of material and execution of the jackets fit nicely into that approach, with details that make them fresh and modern.
MR Porter is where you should shop now.
In a few short seasons, Mr Porter’s in-house label has mastered the art of lightly-worn luxury. It is no surprise that its jackets are elegant and unfussy. The brand has overshirts, blousons and truckers in a variety of colors that work all year.
MR Porter is where you should shop now.
Belstaff has jacket styles that can be found in or around an aircraft hangar or motorcycle garage. Another heritage UK label, its bikers look and feel expensive, but they carry a timeless, worn-in quality that lasts for years.
Shop now at Belstaff
How To Clean A Suede Jacket
There is an elephant in the room. In terms of practicality, suede jackets leave a lot to be desired, even though they look great. Here are a few ways to properly care for and clean suede, which can be mitigated by knowing how to clean and care for it.
The fabric will look fresh and clean with the help of a suede brush. If you are not already using one on your shoes, you need to be. One thing to keep in mind when using one is not to brush too aggressively. If you scrub too much, the nap’s delicate fibers can be damaged.
A suede brush is great for light cleaning, but for stains or tougher spots of dirt you will need a suede eraser. You can use it the same way you would use a pencil eraser, by using the suede brush to finish the job.
Prevention is more effective than cure. The bottle of protection spray is the most important weapon you have against dirty suede. This will prevent the worst of the damage from dirt and water, keeping your jacket cleaner and newer for longer.