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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.