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Love the effortlessly cool look of the biker jacket but unsure how to wear it? Our columnist Esther Walker has a few tried-and-tested styling tricks up her sleeve…


Is there an item of clothing that comes laden with more baggage, expectation or potential for hilarity and pratfall (sartorially speaking) than the leather biker jacket?

Is it ever possible to wear one without looking startled and confused, feeling like a belisha beacon at a tea party with “I’m wearing a leather jacket” written in flashing neon lights above your head?

Wearing this kind of jacket can genuinely mess with your mind. When you’re not used to wearing one, or not quite sure about what to do with it, it can make you feel by turns like Sandra Dee in the closing ten minutes of Grease and then suddenly like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future Part II.

Frankly, it’s quite the emotional rollercoaster and can easily send you, hyperventilating, stuffing your (probably very expensive) jacket back in the cupboard never to be seen again.

The good news is that there is a solution; the trick with the leather biker jacket is to neutralise it.

It is the same trick you must perform with all other extreme and worrying items of clothing, which we nonetheless are drawn to like moths to a flame. Just off the top of my head, I’m thinking body-con dresses, ‘fun’ faux fur, tartan trousers, gold strappy sandals, fedoras or anything hot pink.

In order to make sure you’re wearing a leather biker jacket rather than the other way around, you have to show it who is boss; you have to get it in a stranglehold and say “I make the rules round here, sonny.”

But how?

Well: what does a leather biker jacket ‘say’? It says danger, night, motorbikes, sexy. So you neutralise it by putting it with unsexy things – over a hoodie or a thick, cosy rollneck, with slouchy trousers or a tea dress.

Wear with trainers or espadrilles, but never wear with biker boots unless you want to spend the day being directed to office receptions and being asked where to sign.

And of course never, ever wear with heels, because one wrong move and

you will simply look like Dorien from Birds of a Feather. Yes, yes, I’m sure there are some women who wear a biker and heels with no trouble but their name probably starts with a Cara and ends in -vingne.

It’s also not just a question of balancing out the ‘temperature’ of the leather jacket, (stop me if I’m getting too theoretical about all this), but about balancing out the actual shape of it. A leather biker will close in your top half, so your bottom half needs to be a bit looser. Be it a maxi or midi skirt, wide trousers or even a smart pair of joggers, a look you definitely want to avoid is tight-all-over because it’s just not very modern. And while we might not care about looking fashionable – because what does that really mean anyway? – we do want to look modern.

Now the only thing left to discuss is the extremely thorny issue of colour.

Is it ever alright to wear a biker jacket any colour other than black? Many of you will be astounded I’m even asking the question. Yes! You will holler, spilling your tea. No! You will scream, hurling your cereal bowl at the wall. See? I told you it was a

thorny issue.

Personally, I like to maintain a dignified, non-committal attitude towards this – although I must admit that the one biker jacket I own is black and I have no plans to buy a different one. I tilt my head to one side in wonder whenever I see anyone wearing an olive green, grey or purplish biker jacket and marvel at the confidence they had when buying it that a jacket in that colour would go with everything else in their wardrobe.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t even consider spending north of £200 on any item of clothing unless I can wear it at all times, at every occasion, with absolutely everything in my wardrobe and also in bed and at the beach and to the gym. And even then I might not buy it.

Having said that, as you gracefully move from your forties to your fifties, black isn’t a very kind colour and wearing softer colours is a necessity, even when it comes to a leather biker jacket. And there is something very beautiful about a tan suede biker jacket. Just don’t wear it with cream-coloured trousers or you will look like a Weetabix.


Wear the jacket over a poloneck jumper for an easy outfit between seasons. The cosy knit tones down the edginess of the leather.
Balance the close fit of a classic biker jacket with cropped, wide-leg trousers and flatform trainers.
Opposites attract: sleek leather adds a tough-luxe dimension to a whimsical pink midi dress. Just add your favourite flat boots.
Whichever side of the colour debate you’re on, keep things effortless by layering your biker with a soft cotton hoodie in a neutral hue.
Nothing says ‘off-duty’ like a relaxed-fit white T-shirt and faded denim – ideal for when you want to look low-key, yet stylish.
Tan is a forgiving shade for those that find black a little harsh on their skin tone. Ground the look with dark denim and a wide belt.

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