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It took me a while to realize that I’m not a leather jacket guy. Don’t get me wrong; the right black leather jacket looks exceptionally cool. It’s just that on some people, a leather jacket gives off the vibe of Marlon Brando in The Wild One or Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. I, on the other hand, feel like an undercover cop doing a very unconvincing job fitting in with the local riff-raff.
A suede jacket, however, is simultaneously more laid back and more sophisticated than its hardier leather counterpart. The best men’s suede jackets are easier to pull off and style with a wider variety of outfits, and they’re softer and more comfortable the very first time you put them on.
A suede jacket for men is not without its faults, of course. Suede is notoriously hard to care for, and it isn’t built to withstand rain, snow, or moisture in general. The reason is that suede is made from the underside of the hide, which is naturally less durable than the exterior, which leather is made from. Still, using the more delicate inside of the hide gives suede its unique napped texture, soft hand feel, and ability to take on a unique patina.
How To Take Care of a Suede Jacket
But despite its water-averse nature, suede is plenty durable, and it doesn’t have to be too hard to care for. There’s disagreement over whether or not to use a suede spray; some argue it’s essential in keeping your suede dry and dirt-free, while others may want to avoid using a chemical aerosol and note that suede spray can darken the color of the material. If you choose to skip the spray, you’ll want to make sure you double (or triple) check the weather for that day.
While cow is the most common animal for making leather, lamb and goat are particularly popular for making suede. For those that want to avoid animal products, there are polyester versions of suede, although these often look cheaper and will rarely last as long as the real deal. One alternative is to invest in a corduroy jacket. No one will mistake corduroy for suede up close. But like suede, corduroy also has a velvety appearance and a pleasant, textured hand feel.
As for how to style a suede jacket, it’s an easy layer to throw on over a t-shirt or denim button-up, and a suede jacket looks great styled with dressy pants and blue jeans alike. A light brown suede jacket will look great with brown leather shoes; in general, it’s better to coordinate than it is to match. Almost every style of jacket imaginable is available in a suede version, including bombers, shearling jackets, trucker jackets, Harrington jackets, and moto racer jackets. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite men’s suede jackets below.
Todd Snyder Suede Dylan Jacket
Todd Snyder’s Dylan jacket is so named for a particularly stylish jacket favored by Bob Dylan, and the snap front design and the hip-length cut means you can style it the way you would your favorite denim jacket. Plus, it comes in a range of colors.
WEST COAST CLASSIC
Golden Bear Suede Bomber Jacket
Golden Bear is an old-school San Francisco-based brand that continues to manufacture its jackets in The City. Best known for varsity jackets, the brand also makes this particularly delicious green suede jacket.
EAST COAST LEGEND
Schott NYC Suede Jacket
It doesn’t get much more legit than Schott, a brand that popularized the leather moto jacket. This zip-up style clocks in at under $900. It’s still an investment but a worthwhile one for an American-made jacket from a legendary brand.
BEST BROWN JACKET
Nudie Jeans Steve Leather Jacket Cognac
This Nudie Jeans jacket looks like the kind of grail you’d find in your grandpa’s closet, with a more modern fit. It’s made from goat leather with corozo buttons. Plus, Nudie has a longstanding commitment to sustainability.
Theory Amos Suede Trucker Jacket
Like most things the brand makes, Theory’s take on the suede trucker is decidedly modern and streamlined, with discreet pockets and a dressy point collar.
Valstar Valstarino Slim-Fit Suede Bomber Jacket
Valstar is an Italian luxury label, and the Valstarino jacket is the brand’s most iconic design. First produced in 1935, it’s an enduring icon that’s still made in Italy.
BEST CAFE RACER
Thursday Boot Co. Racer Jacket
A racer jacket is a type of motorcycle jacket that’s the more casual cousin of the moto, and it looks especially good in suede. It’s easily one of the most affordable options for a well-made genuine suede jacket.
MR P. Suede Jacket
If you want a jacket that’s big on the 70s vibes, go for this buttery yellow pick from Mr. Porter’s in house label, Mr. P. It’s also available in a more muted sage color.
Cole Haan Suede Trucker Jacket
Though best known for shoes, Cole Haan has a solid selection of outerwear, including this snap-front trucker jacket. It comes in dark chocolate and cognac.
BEST SHIRT JACKET
Banana Republic Heritage Suede Expedition Jacket
However you might feel about the name, a shacket just makes sense. A suede shacket is even better. This option is available in a classic shade of brown, and it’s fully lined for added warmth.
Polo Ralph Lauren Suede Jacket
This Polo suede jacket riffs on the Harrington style, beloved by icons like Steve McQueen and James Dean, and it’s available in earthy shades of green and brown. The jacket is fully lined for comfort.