two white women with brown hair wear a camel & beige moto jacket

How to style a moto jacket

Oct 15, 2023

Fashion is a language that speaks volumes about our personality and style. It’s a canvas on which we paint our individuality. One iconic piece of clothing that has stood the test of time and continues to make a bold statement is the motorcycle jacket. While once exclusively a symbol of rebellion and counterculture, it has evolved into a fashion staple for women, offering a blend of style and functionality that is both versatile and timeless. The beauty of the motorcycle jacket is its ability to adapt to different style aesthetics, whether classic, edgy, or eclectic. *Find a shoppable selection of our current favorite moto jackets & styles to pair them with at the bottom of this post

Classic Elegance

A well-crafted leather motorcycle jacket exudes a sense of timeless elegance. The clean lines, simple design, and quality leather make it an enduring style choice. Paired with a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans, it creates an effortless look that has become an iconic fashion statement. Simply wearing this casual, but uber chic jacket gives the wearer a higher sense of self confidence. Slipping it over your shoulders makes you feel like you can take on the world without breaking a sweat.

Hailey Bieber – REX/Shutterstock, Lucy Liu- Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images, Jennifer Aniston-James Delaney/Getty Images, Emma Roberts- Domonique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images, Jordan Dunn- David Krieger/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Edgy Attitude

For those who want to add a dash of rebellion to their wardrobe, enter the motorcycle jacket. The asymmetrical zipper, studs, and angular design elements create a recognizably fierce look. It’s perfect for those who want to make a bold statement.

In the 1950s, the motorcycle jacket gained further popularity when it was worn by James Dean and other “Bad Boy” Hollywood heart-throbs. It became a symbol of youthful rebellion, independence, and a rejection of the establishment. In other words, the embodiment of “Cool”.

Salma Hayek – Getty Images, Rihanna – Josiah Kamau/Buzzfoto/Getty Images, Olivia Munn – Josiah Kamau/Buxxfoto/Getty Images, Taylor Swift – Gardiner Anderson/Bauer-Griffin/ Getty Images, Gigi Hadid – James Devany/GC Images/ Getty Images

Empowerment and Style

In the present day, the motorcycle jacket is no longer confined to the realm of rebellious youth culture. Women have embraced it as a symbol of empowerment, and an expression of their personal style. The beauty of the motorcycle jacket is its ability to adapt to different fashion sensibilities, whether classic, edgy, or eclectic, and as you wear it more and more, it begins to mold to your body and the leather softens and weathers to a beautiful patina. 

Versatility Beyond the Road

One of the key reasons for the lasting appeal of the motorcycle jacket is its incredible versatility and durability. It has transcended its original purpose as protective gear for riders to become a staple in women’s wardrobes. It seamlessly transitions from casual to formal occasions -see the photo of Charlize Theron in the ball gown and leather jacket as an example of “Red Carpet Ready”. Wearing the rugged leather jacket over a silk slip dress is a favorite of The Style That Binds Us cofounder, Delia Folk, and is a perfect juxtaposition of soft and strong. 

Stylist Tip: The question of whether you can wear a leather jacket in the warmer months comes up often, and my answer is a definitive “Yes”! Inside restaurants and public spaces, it is often very chilly even in the heat of the summer, and also the ability to throw one over your shoulders is a major style statement no matter the time of year. There’s nothing more glamorous than a leather jacket in white or a soft neutral worn in the summer to add that casual “je ne sais quoi”-I don’t know how she does it- appeal. 

Quality Matters

The quality of a motorcycle jacket plays a pivotal role in defining its style and longevity. A well-constructed jacket made from genuine leather is an investment that will last for years. The rich, supple feel of genuine leather adds to the jacket’s appeal. It molds to the wearer’s body over time, becoming a second skin that only gets better with age, and oh boy, the stories it could tell!

When shopping for a motorcycle jacket, pay attention to the craftsmanship. Look for sturdy zippers, high-quality stitching, and attention to detail. A well-made jacket is not only a fashion statement but a practical and durable piece of outerwear.

Color Choices

While the classic black motorcycle jacket is a timeless choice, women now have a wide range of color options to choose from. Brown, burgundy, and even pastel shades like light blue have entered the motorcycle jacket scene, allowing for a more diverse range of outfits and personal expressions. The color choice can significantly impact the style and mood of the jacket. You can also find this style jacket in many different fabrics- vegan leather, wool, etc. with different choices for hardware (zippers and beyond), and from cropped to oversized in shape and everywhere in between. It is worn as Outerwear, a third layer piece for an outfit, and sometimes, in the case of a “glove” jacket (soft buttery leather that is fitted to the body) it can be zipped up and worn alone as a shirt. 

Accessorizing with Confidence

The motorcycle jacket lends itself well to accessorizing. Adding a few accessories can easily amplify its style. Scarves, belts, and statement jewelry can complement the jacket and reflect your personality. Whether you prefer a bohemian look with fringed accessories or a minimalist style with sleek metallic details, the motorcycle jacket can adapt to your preferences. On the flipside, if the jacket has statement hardware already, it is both a jacket and an accessory, and any other statement jewelry would compete for attention. The look could also resemble a costume.

Caring for Your Jacket

To maintain the style and longevity of your motorcycle jacket, also referred to as a “Biker” jacket, it’s essential to care for it properly. Leather jackets require regular cleaning and conditioning to prevent drying and cracking. When not in use, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Proper care will ensure your jacket remains a stylish staple for years to come. You may even have an old leather jacket that has been passed down to you. In that case, it will need extra care and maintenance to preserve its beauty.

A motorcycle jacket is what we call an “investment piece”, because of the timelessness of the style. Because of this, it is a jacket to be very thoughtful about when purchasing. Learn from Alison Bruhn’s personal story, “I made the mistake of buying a designer leather jacket that had fringe hanging off the arms and across the back, it was absolutely gorgeous. Unfortunately though, it was super heavy and in the end, I did not wear it often because of that. My emotions got the best of me, you know that feeling when you’re dating someone, and you see the little signs that maybe it’s not right, but you move ahead anyway? It was like that. It turned out to be a costly “mistake” purchase- almost, but not quite right. I told myself in the store that I would get used to how heavy it was. That, of course, did not happen. Instead, it hung in my closet, making me feel guilty every time I saw it.”

Be patient when shopping for this iconic piece, find the one that fits beautifully (this is one item of clothing that is difficult to alter, especially if it is made of leather), that is the right color for you, that has high enough quality that it will weather the test of time.

How To Style

  • Start With The Jacket: Your biker jacket is the focal point. Classic black leather is timeless, but you can also experiment with different colors, styles or materials.
  • Tops: Pair the jacket with a simple white or black t-shirt for a classic look. You can also opt for a graphic tee, turtleneck or tank, or a corset top, silk cami or blouse for a more feminine touch.
  • Bottoms: Straight legged jeans in a faded wash (“Wash” refers to the process of treating denim fabric to achieve a certain color, texture, or finish) are a great choice to complement the edgy look of a biker jacket. A general rule is, the more oversized the jacket, the more narrow the pants should be. You can also wear leather pants, a skirt (pencil or even a maxi pleated metallic skirt look modern and fresh), and this year, it’s easy to find a maxi denim skirt, or even shorts, depending on the season and your personal style. Denim “cut-offs” would work, for example, but at some point you may feel like you’re too old for that. Same goes for a mini skirt.
  • Dresses: Anything goes here, everything from a T-shirt dress that creates a super casual, off-duty look, worn with the jacket and a pair of sneakers on a Saturday morning, to a cocktail dress and everything in between. From sweater dresses to sequins, use the dress as a background for the look you are trying to achieve, keeping in mind, the jacket is the focal point.
  • Footwear: Biker boots are a natural match, but you can also go for ankle boots, combat boots, riding boots, western boots, high heeled boots for that “Femme Fatale” vibe, strappy sandals or even sneakers, sandals or loafers for a more casual look. Heels or stylish flats can work for a dressier outfit, or for the ultimate French girl aesthetic, wear the white T-Shirt, black Moto jacket, skinny black jeans and black stiletto heels, and don’t forget the red lip and the black sunglasses… Ooh La La!
  • Accessories: Add some accessories like a statement belt, a chunky necklace, or a scarf to elevate the outfit. Sunglasses can also give it a cool vibe. As mentioned above, though, beware that you’re not getting too much going on. If you go with the chunky necklace, that should be it for jewelry. For example, don’t wear a chunky necklace, big hoops and multiple bangles, that would be too over-the-top. Smaller earrings like huggies or ear cuffs for example, would do the trick just as well, and would not compete with the jacket. The motorcycle jacket is intentionally meant to be worn as an afterthought, an effortless look, even if you did put time into planning the outfit. The idea is to look like you didn’t try too hard, like you were running out the door and grabbed your jacket (Kate Moss with Johnny Depp vibes). 
  • Final Touch: Don’t forget about the attitude. Confidence is key when wearing a biker jacket. Make the outfit your own, and you’ll rock it! 

Stylist tip: Remember, the key is to balance the edginess of the jacket with other elements in your outfit to create a look that suits your personal style.

For more ideas about how to style your Biker jacket, The Style That Binds Us team filmed a video showing four ways they wear theirs. Watch the video, and tell us what you think. If you come up with a new way to wear yours, we would love it if you would screenshot your outfit, and share it with us. We are always looking for inspiration as well! We won’t post it without your permission, but we’re forever in search of new creative ways to style this beloved core piece. If you have questions about whether or not you can wear a motorcycle jacket with your body type, your height, your coloring, your age, please reach out to us to discuss, either in the comment section below, or you can reach out here to schedule an appointment.

How to style a black moto jacket in 4 different ways from casual to dressy

In Conclusion

The motorcycle jacket has transcended its origins and is now a symbol of empowerment and style for women. It’s a versatile piece of clothing that can effortlessly blend classic elegance with edgy attitude. The quality of the jacket, color choices, and accessories allow you to express your individuality while embracing the timeless appeal of this iconic garment.

Whether you’re heading out for a casual day with friends or stepping into a formal event, the motorcycle jacket can be your trusted companion, providing both style and protection. As fashion continues to evolve, this enduring piece remains a symbol of confidence, independence, and the enduring power of timeless style.

The Style That Binds Us




  1. Frances Bryan says:

    I always enjoy your style advise. I makes me want to up my game!!!!

  2. TV jackets are more than just wardrobe pieces; they’re iconic symbols that weave into the stories and characters we adore. From the sleek and stylish to the rugged and practical, these jackets often become a part of the show’s identity. They hold a unique power, inspiring trends and making us feel connected to our favorite series and characters. The best part? They bring a touch of that on-screen magic into our everyday lives. 📺🧥✨

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