Hailing from military origins, bomber jackets have come a long way and evolved to be one of the most popular outerwear pieces of all time. While the fashion industry constantly releases new trends, this functional and versatile staple is still worn by most men today and elevates outfits, proving it’s among the most stylish and timeless pieces you can add to your wardrobe. The men’s fashion industry continues to grow as do luxury brands rapidly. Check out this chart from illuminatingfacts.com on the leading brands in the global fashion industry:
In this guide, we’ll help you discover more about bomber jackets from their history, different styles, designs, colors, outfit combinations, and fit. Thus, ultimately showing you exactly how to wear a bomber jacket, how it can fit your styling needs, and how to look good donning the perfect bomber jacket for you. Let’s get started!
Bomber Jackets: A Brief History
Bomber jackets are one of the many menswear items whose history is ingrained in the armed forces. Also known as flight jackets, the first version of the now-incredibly cool jacket traces back to the 1920s when they were originally devised for airmen during World War I to protect them from elements, provide more freedom for movement, and save them from freezing temperatures in what were then still open-air cockpits.
Prior to the creation of bomber jackets, pilots wore shearling jackets to keep warm. The catch is that they were significantly longer and heavy, making them seriously impractical. With that, various changes were applied, such as shortening the hem for better movements, knitting the cuffs for the restriction of airflow up to the arms, and the addition of large pockets for stashing airborne essentials.
In 1927, the US Army Type A-1 was issued, setting the fundamentals for bomber jackets. Iterations were made in the succeeding years to improve the design, resulting in the release of the A-2 in 1931 which featured a leather collar, zip, and button snaps, and the MA-1 in the 1950s made of nylon.
Eventually, the bomber jacket made its way to the public and has become popular in the civilian fashion style. Its prevalence also skyrocketed, thanks to the cultural icons who donned this versatile apparel like Tom Cruise in “Top Gun”, Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape,” and Ewan McGregor in “Mark Renton.” In recent times, the military-inspired silhouette has also been worn by famous celebrities like Kanye West, Ryan Gosling, and David Beckham.
True enough, the bomber jacket has entrenched itself in society and pop culture. As seasons and trends changed, the bomber jackets also adapted to provide better functionality and practicality, keeping the iconic and effortless clothing piece that it is today!
What Is A Bomber Jacket?
Though there have been many alterations since its birth, a classic bomber jacket is still recognizable due to its loose or standard fit, functional front and sleeve pockets, and rib knitted cuffs, collar, frontal zipper, and waistband. While they are usually made of leather, these jackets are also available in nylon, polyester, wool, fleece, silk, and other materials.
Meanwhile, bomber jackets’ modern appeal stems from their versatility. These apparel are casual and gender neutral. Originally meant to keep the wearer warm in cold, freezing weather, today’s functional design makes them easily adaptable for cold, warm, or transition seasons, so their incredible look and style simply never go out of fashion.
Bomber Jacket Styles
As mentioned, bomber jackets have greatly transformed since their first appearance. As society evolved, so do the fashion styles of this outerwear! With more men wearing them, creators also stepped up their game, leading to the various types of bomber jackets in different shapes, styles, and fabrics. Thus, providing you with lots of options to get a stunning outfit. Learn more about them below!
1. Leather Bomber Jackets
Leather bomber jackets are the original option. It’s little wonder as it boasts the perfect balance between warmth, fit, and style and is ideal for giving you that timeless look with a “bad boy” appeal that most women love. These jackets can be worn both on dressed-up and casual occasions. Just make sure to aim for high-quality leather so it can last a long time.
2. Suede Bomber Jackets
Suede bomber jackets are your best bet if you want to add variety to your style. They exude classic timelessness and modern sensitivity, making them very easy to style. You can use them on a softer outfit for less formal events during the day or look your best on smart-casual occasions at night. Whichever it is, expect that these jackets will incorporate a new touch to your current style.
3. Canvas Bomber Jackets
If you wish to add some texture to your wardrobe sans too much warmth, then canvas bomber jackets are the right piece for you. They’re made of natural fibers woven together by hand or machine. Unlike leather, they’re much softer, so they’re more comfortable to wear. Plus, it’s ideal if you want to skip that edgy look and instead embrace a relaxed look and an effortless, casual vibe.
4. Nylon Bomber Jackets
Nylon bomber jackets are the best option if you’re seeking a lightweight material. A synthetic man-made fiber generally derived from petroleum, they can keep you looking elegant without adding too much drama. Today, they are the traditional choice for most men, especially since these jackets have transitioned to have a slimmer fit, a feature that’s highly sought for.
5. Cotton Bomber Jackets
Bomber jackets’ won’t be out even in the summer! During this season, light cotton bomber jackets are great for keeping you cool and comfortable and still looking stylish! A true casualwear favorite among men, these lightweight cotton bomber jackets are usually unlined, so you beat the heat during the long summer days.
6. Varsity Bomber Jackets
Bomber jackets were soon refashioned into varsity jackets featuring stripe patterns on the cuffs, sleeves, and waistband of the jacket. Having a similar silhouette to the ones worn by the US military, these super sporty and comfy jackets usually have the school or organization’s colors and logo and are worn proudly by the people who don them.
7. Floral-printed Bomber Jackets
Floral-printed bomber jackets are a fashion statement that appeals to the younger generations as it draws attention pretty quickly. While you can’t wear them at formal events, they’ll be great if you’re attending a fun party or prepping up for street fashion.
8. Long Bomber Jacket
Though most of the bomber jackets you’ll see today rests on top of the hip, there are ones that feature a tail that lands up further down to the thighs. Called long bomber jackets, these are considered hybrids that combine a bomber and a parka. With that, they provide better insulation, making them excellent winter pieces that can be used as an alternative for overcoats. Just ensure to match them with slim joggers, chinos, or pants to avoid having a chunky appearance and instead exude a trendy look.
Bomber Jacket Colors
Apart from the different styles, bomber jackets also come in various colors. However, you need to partner the jackets with the correct outfit to bring out the best look from each color.
1. Black Bomber Jackets
When it comes to color, black is the classic choice for bomber jackets. Black bomber jackets are sleek and very versatile, easily suiting a wide array of outfits.
Usually made of lightweight, weather-resistant, and waterproof, they’ll be great if you want to ride bikes, thanks to the tough exterior. They’ll protect your inner clothing from outside elements like dirt and rain, while still looking stunning while riding.
During the summer, black bomber jackets made out of lightweight nylon or polyester and paired with a clean white shirt or over a zip-up jacket can keep you cool on warmer days. On the other hand, those made with leather are ideal for an edgy outfit, while wool and suede black bomber jackets are perfect for pulling off a smarter, sophisticated appearance.
2. White Bomber Jackets
White bomber jackets are pretty rare, but you should never miss out on them as they’re also a cool statement piece. What’s great about them is that the color lends itself to outfits that darker colors may not. For instance, a white bomber jacket is best during the fresh, warm spring days instead of darker hues. As the color is also neutral, it can blend well with other light pieces like tan pants or soft blue jeans, but will also rock with standout printed jeans for a brighter look.
3. Olive Bomber Jackets
Olive bomber jackets, including all those other shades of green, draw inspiration from their military heritage, resembling the hue originally worn by WW1 airmen.
As olive is less formal than black, these jackets are suited for casual outfits by default and work best as an accent item to complement your look. They will look outstanding when paired with basic pants, neutral hues, and earthy colors.
For example, a casual look will entail a white t-shirt, dark wash jeans, boots, and an olive green bomber jacket. If you wish to appear more sophisticated, simply swap the t-shirt with a white turtleneck to achieve the look.
4. Burgundy Bomber Jackets
Burgundy bomber jackets were first adored by punks who embraced the apparel during the ‘60s to ‘80s. Eventually, they also became an integral part of the ‘80s and ‘90s fashion, being worn by renowned stars in the pop and rock ‘n roll culture like Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.
Today, burgundy bomber jackets are still well-loved as they can match a variety of styles and are great for making a statement or adding a little spunk to any outfit. For instance, you can partner them with a black t-shirt or a black hoodie, and black jeans for an edgy, casual outfit for a weekend party. For a less-toned aesthetic, a white shirt, khaki chinos or light denim jeans, white shoes, and a burgundy bomber jacket will be a great combination.
5. Red Bomber Jackets
More striking than burgundy, red bomber jackets are loud pieces that provide an on-trend look but may need some skill to wear well. Just devote more attention to the other parts of the outfit, and you may earn amazing results. As it’s already bold and more fashion-forward than other colors, it’s better to pair them with basic items in classic or neutral hues. With that, try to put it on top of a white t-shirt and pair it with dark blue jeans and white sneakers for a simple yet stylish outfit.
6. Blue Bomber Jackets
Blue bomber jackets are effortlessly cool and easy-to-wear pieces that every fashionable guy must have. They suit different styles, but among the most popular ones is pairing a light bomber jacket with navy jeans and low-top white sneakers for a laid-back look. Alternatively, you can achieve a mellow feel by marrying the bomber instead with tan chinos and brown canvas high-top sneakers. It will convey a modern, casual look that’s perfect for an off-duty stroll all-around town.
Bomber Jacket Outfits
Bomber jackets can help you achieve a dazzling look if you know how to appropriately pair them with other pieces of clothing. So, to ensure your look won’t go out of place, let’s delve into how you can marry these jackets with other clothing items.
1. Bomber Jacket with T-Shirt
One of the easiest and most favored ways of wearing a bomber jacket is matching it to a shirt. Simply pick a quality basic tee, put a nylon bomber jacket on top, and complete the outfit with slim jeans. Presto! You’ll have a simple yet more functional outfit, better looking than merely wearing a t-shirt or a hoodie.
Meanwhile, graphic tees paired with jeans may seem outdated but topping it with a bomber jacket can quickly give it a new life and give out instant street credibility. If you’re hesitant to experiment or go into that avenue, then no problem, as a classic tee will still serve you well.
2. Bomber Jacket with Other Shirts
For most, the bomber jacket with a tee is the standard, rendering it hard to imagine pairing the former with other tops. Yet, given all the iterations that the bomber jacket has gone through in the past, why stagnate and do what everyone is already doing? Take it to the next level by matching a bomber jacket with a collared shirt. Just strive for contrast and find fabrics and colors that will play off each other beautifully. You’d be surprised how they can also be a great combo than the usual bomber jacket and tee combinations.
3. Bomber Jacket With Jeans/Trousers
As you’ve probably inferred by now, bomber jackets go without question with almost all types of jeans. For casual occasions, a nylon bomber jacket, t-shirt, and blue jeans will already suffice and make you look and feel good during casual first dates or during a night out with your friends.
For something more formal, a bomber jacket can also be an effective alternative to the blazer. All you need are proper wool trousers. Just ensure that you opt for darker hues and high-end finishes to look sophisticated. Meanwhile, suede and cashmere are also a dazzling combo that will work both at your workplace and at the pub.
4. Bomber Jacket With Shoes
Be mindful that shoes can make or break your bomber jacket outfit. If you go too polished, it will appear off. If you go too bold, it can feel awkward. As a general rule, it’s best to stay in the middle ground in terms of formality.
For instance, if you’re matching your nylon bomber jacket with jeans, sneakers are your best choice, but you should never go far beyond wearing suede boots. If boots aren’t your style, your best alternative is dress sneakers, but drop the jeans for chinos, and swap the nylon bomber jacket for a suede one to match up the look.
5. Bomber Jacket with Joggers
Bomber jackets and joggers are the most comfortable combination. They are great when watching a basketball game, hanging out with friends, running a quick errand at the nearest grocery store, or in other casual situations. Make sure to finish the outfit off with your runners or athletic sneakers for that sporty look and the utmost comfort.
6. Bomber Jacket with a Cap
Chances are you’ve seen characters in television or movies looking cool while wearing the dynamic combo of a bomber jacket and a cap. It’s very stylish and perfect for a flight, a weekend brunch, or for other simple off-duty routines.
But while it’s an easy-to-achieve getup, there are a few rules you should keep in mind to pull it right. For instance, skip wearing a cap with a logo, if you’re already wearing a varsity bomber jacket. Leave the excessive love for logos for middle schoolers.
Next, your bomber jacket and cap don’t necessarily have to match in colors. If you’re wearing a navy bomber jacket, then you may wear a khaki cap. If you’re donning a burgundy jacket instead, a beige or charcoal cap will help you elevate your look.
Ways to Wear a Bomber Jacket
Now that you’re aware of different styles, colors, and outfit combinations, it’s time to take a look at the general ways you can wear a bomber jacket which you can use as a stepping stone to wearing these jackets with sheer confidence.
Minimalist style is ideal if you’re aiming to look simple and neat or attending casual, smart casual, or even business casual occasions. To achieve the look, all you need is a sleek, premium bomber jacket like one made in suede, and pair them with a button-down shirt, tidy chinos or slacks, and leather boots.
That’s a perfect combination if you wish to look smarter without having people think that you work in the finance industry. During the winter, just replace the bomber with warmer materials like wool to keep you looking great and warm even in the coldest of weather.
Bomber jackets are widely used in street fashion as they can quickly provide an edgy vibe. Here, you can wear the most colorful bomber jackets like orange, yellow, red, or burgundy, whichever you like. Take note that streetwear involves expressing yourself, so if your taste leans toward blue, black, or olive bombers jackets. Don’t hesitate to wear them as they work here, too. Pair them with jeans and sneakers to keep everything casual, but be ready to add a hoodie when things get a little chillier in the winter months.
When picturing an athletic style, you may be thinking about gym shorts and a fitted tank top – both of which won’t work with bomber jackets. So, how come bomber jackets can help you off this style? Well, if gym shorts are out, then sweatpants and joggers are in. If you’re wearing sweatpants, just choose a fabric that brings a casual vibe. If you’re aiming for joggers instead, prioritize quality and look for one that’s light, flexible, fits well, and has a great balance between comfort and performance.
Don’t get us wrong! When we say retro, we don’t pertain to the style and music of the ‘50s to the ‘70s. Instead, what we talk about are the bomber jackets that stay true to the original design of the bomber, the same as the ones worn by the fighter pilots during WW1.
Whether you’re wearing an actual vintage bomber or an adaptation of the original form, it can be an outright statement piece that will turn heads. As they are often made of leather and are slightly more formal, it’s best to pair them with slacks, dress sneakers, a button-down shirt or a turtleneck, and sweaters. Opt also for simpler, understated pieces to achieve balance as these timeless jackets are already striking on their own.
Quick Tips on How To Wear A Bomber Jacket
While bomber jackets are generally versatile and work well with different occasions, there are some do’s and don’ts you need to remember to help you on your bomber jacket journey:
Get the right fit. Though fit is more of a personal preference, bomber jackets look best when it fits closer to the body with the cuffs just resting down past your wrist bone. Meanwhile, the waistband should sit loosely at your waistband or just a few inches past your pants. Oversized options may be trendy in other types of apparel, but it’s a big no-no when it comes to bomber jackets.
Never wear a bomber jacket on top of another bomber jacket as it will cause you to appear chunky! You should always stick to the sleek, classic profile that bomber jackets are known for.
Leather and wool bombers are great for extra warmth.
A bomber jacket without the zipper can give you a more minimalist look.
For formal occasions, you can try the single-tone where your top and pants are the same color as your bomber jacket.
Fleece, suede, or leather bombers are excellent if you want to achieve a dressier look.
Nothing can beat the combo of a tee, jeans, sneakers, and a bomber jacket when striving for a casual cool look!
Bomber jackets are a fashion trend that never really go away despite their inception happening nearly a century ago. If you haven’t done so, start adding these timeless jackets to your outfit repertoire and enjoy how they can quickly make you look stylish. Experiments with different styles, colors, and combinations, and you’ll soon discover which is the best for you! Bomb on!