Little Leather Jackets

Little Leather Jackets
Thursday, October, 09, 2008 Strap on your hardhats, dear readers, because today we're breaking ground on a completely new WhoWhatWear.com feature! We're pleased to unveil the latest addition to our regularly scheduled content-Top Five-a handpicked selection of current classics. Each month or so, we'll focus on a different key piece (starting with little leather jackets) you should have in your closet and show you our five favorites versions. Just think of the story as a general contractor for personal style, helping you to build a truly extraordinary wardrobe, bit by bit!

We decided to kick off our Top Five series with an item that's near and dear to our hearts (it was our first story after all), the leather jacket. This iconic piece has storied associations with everyone from James Dean to Alice Dellal, yet somehow remains delightfully universal and appealing. Though the little leather has become quite quotidian over the past few years (now worn with everything from denim to party dresses), it's also maintained its signature cool-a most difficult thing to do!

While your favorite trendsetters, like Ashley Olsen and Rachel Bilson, go for Rick Owens' Side Zip Leather Jacket ($2300, 212.627.7222), and the model pack is dedicated to Balenciaga's Quilted Leather Jacket ($5200), there are so many amazing, and attainable, styles on the market right now. After poring over look books and trying on enough little leather jackets to outfit an army of bikers, we finally settled on our five favorites (including one PETA-friendly faux leather option). Admittedly, many of these jackets are a little pricey, but just remember this should be an investment piece you wear for years. It's all about price per wear!

1. Grai Anouk Leather Jacket ($1070)
Though we love the quintessential leather jacket (bomber or moto in style), there's also much to be said for fashion-forward cuts too. The Anouk Jacket by Grai subtly tweaks the standard shapes and takes the little leather to the next level. It's just what we'd expect from a designer, Maya Yogev, who worked in Rick Owens' Parisian atelier. Undone, the Anouk Jacket relaxes into sumptuous folds and casually draped lines; zipped up, it has a futuristic sort of chic. Either way, it's gorgeous. Try INC International Concepts' Motorcycle Jacket ($249) for a similarly soft style.

2. Mike & Chris Kelvin Jacket ($836)
As we started to call in product, we immediately asked for options from Los Angeles' own lord and lady of coolly casual leather looks, Mike Gonzalez and Christine Park-Gonzalez. The husband and wife design duo are beloved by celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Keira Knightley (to only name two) for their incredibly wearable and versatile line, and with pieces like Kelvin Jacket, we completely understand the adoration. The Kelvin's double-breasted style looks fresh and the big loose collar is pretty amazing. Who could resist the oversized button details, not to mention the jacket's unusual and delightful wrinkled leather? Not us! If you adore the oversized buttons, also take a look at Joe's Jeans Myra Leather Jacket ($484) for another great take on the trend.

3. Simone by Katie Nehra Leather Jacket ($1335)
If you're in search of a classic motorcycle jacket with couture-like touches, you'll love this one from Simone by Katie Nehra. Our office went wild over the cut in particular: the high armhole and long narrow sleeve is both elongating and elegant. We also approve of the bold neon fuchsia lining, boxy yet feminine shape, and the snakeskin-embossed leather (the texture is nifty). It is available by special order, email Katie@simonecollection.com to snag one immediately. We also noticed that Delia's has its own version of the cropped moto, the Ashton Pleather Jacket icon ($69.50), available now at an amazing price.

4. Veda Domino Leather Jacket ($745)
One of our biggest dilemmas for this story was deciding which jacket from the up-and-coming line Veda we wanted to showcase. Though this is only designer Lyndsey Butler's second season, her mastery of little leathers is already astonishing. Though we loved many of her styles, the Domino Jacket is particularly perfect. It fits a bit like a blazer and is both lightweight and warm, thanks to a cozy lining. The snug sleeves also have a cozy sweater detail (love it) along the inside of the arm, so you get maximum movement and sleeve flexibility. On the off chance that basic black isn't your thing, the jacket also comes in an amazing graphite color! If you like the unembellished look, but aren't ready to invest, you might love Kookai's Victoriana Leather Jacket ($323).

5. H&M Pleather Jacket ($49.95)
Leave it to H&M to make the ideal modern update to the traditional bomber jacket. While this style typically brings to mind something brown, super boxy, and slightly stiff, their version has a smartly snug fit and hits at the natural waist. It's a high-quality pleather, so the jacket's lightweight and allows you to move freely (no binding arms, thank goodness). The cuffs, collar, and waist all are accentuated with a heavy sweater material, ensuring you'll be warm on even the windiest days. If you'd prefer a leather version, check out Young Fabulous & Broke's Bomber Jacket ($370), which is also very cute!

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