With 80s leather jackets, metallic studs, punk boots, and voluminously styled hair permed to the limits, the eighties was the decade of pure alternative fashion.
Popularized by music and movie celebrities such as Madonna, Michael Jackson, Cher, Tom Cruise, Morten Harket, and Bon Jovi, the 80s is also hailed as the golden decade of leather jackets.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to the most popular leather jacket styles of the 80s in high demand in 2023.
1. Aviator Leather Jacket
The aviator jacket style rose to the pinnacle of 80s fashion right after the 1986 release of Top Gun.
Before the movie, the aviator jacket was used as a practical holdover by those in the army, mainly American soldiers.
A super stylish and versatile wardrobe item, the aviator jacket is the fastest way to enhance your appearance.
While the aviator design works great in professional and informal settings and can be worn in various ways, it is best to avoid overaccessorizing it.
The only accessory I recommend is the aviator sunglasses for a complete 80s look.
2. Rocker Leather Jacket
Another super popular leather jacket was the rocker style.
The rocker leather jacket trend of the 80s was powered by the decade’s emergence of new rock-inspired musical genres and popular rock bands.
Rock’n’roll style’s popularity peaked in the 70s fashion, which continued in the 80s, and one of the most popular outfits for stage performers and fans was the studded leather jacket.
The classic rocker leather jacket transcends the gender gap and can be worn with jeans, boots, and white tees underneath.
Compared to the bomber leather jacket, the rocker jacket style works wonders with many accessories (necklaces, bracelets, and chains).
3. Blazer Leather Jacket
The 80s box leather jacket style had a straight, unfitted back hanging loosely from the shoulders.
A status symbol during the power dressing of the 1980s, the box leather jacket style has evolved.
Nowadays, the leather box jacket has become a wardrobe staple for smart casual ensembles.
4. Motorcycle Leather Jacket
One of the most popular types of leather jackets is the motorcycle jacket style.
The motorcycle jacket style has a significant “cool factor,” No, you don’t need a motorbike to wear a motorcycle jacket.
The primary purpose of the leather biker jacket was to keep the rider warm, shielded from wind and rain, and protected from scratches and burns in case of a fall.
The modern interpretations of the motorcycle jacket put more emphasis on design than utility, making it a stylish and enjoyable addition to any outfit.
5. Bomber Leather Jacket
Another famous variation of the aviator jacket of the 80s is the bomber leather jacket style, particularly the Members Only bomber jacket.
The Members Only jacket gained further popularity in the US in 1980 as part of Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’ campaign for the presidency and became the standard uniform of white suburban yuppiedom.
Members of La Cosa Nostra, the Italian mafia, wore the Members Only bomber jacket style from the early 1980s to the late 1990s.
6. Fringe Leather Jacket
The firing leather jacket style reached peak popularity in the 80s, following the movie “Raiders Of The Lost Ark.”
The film’s main character, Indiana Jones (played by the actor Harrison Ford), wears a brown leather jacket with many fringes.
The classic 80s firing leather jacket features side pleats for more effortless movement, and the cuffs are often removed for better motion.
The style was further popularized by Western movies of the late 80s, making this jacket a staple for women and men alike.
7. Punk Leather Jacket
The term ‘Punk‘ emerged in the 70s to describe the times’ rebel culture.
Inspired by the rock’n’roll identity to a certain extent, the punk culture had its dressing style, often seen as absolute fashion statements.
Some of the most known and familiar punk communicate are punk leather jackets of the 80s.
Compared to the moto leather jacket, the Punk jacket style has several patches, cuts, and unique accents.
8. Patchwork Leather Jacket
The patchwork leather jacket style was inspired by the U.S. aviation personnel jackets packed with cut-offs and patches depicting the soldier’s base, grade, or rank in the army.
The punk subculture quickly adopted the patchwork style, followed by the heavy metal and biker gangs.
By the end of the 80s century, every subculture, be that punks, metalheads, or heavy biker gangs, had its patchwork leather jackets symbolizing group hierarchy and more.
9. Cropped Leather Jacket
If there’s any outerwear piece that deserves to be in your closet year-long, it is the 80s cropped leather jacket.
Timeless, durable, and super sexy, the cropped leather jacket is a fashion staple that’s been ruling the fashion industry for decades.
With an enticing cut style, the cropped leather jacket has a superb blend of classic and contemporary styles that works wonders with long dresses, jeans, and anything you have in mind.
10. Padded Shoulder Leather Jacket
The padded shoulder jacket is a variation of the moto jacket but with, as the name suggests, larger pads on the shoulder area.
Designed for both sexes, the style with more extensive shoulder modifications was inspired by the power suits and padded shoulder dresses of the 80s.
Power suits and dressing were all the rage in the 80s, a trend created by celebrities and movie stars playing influential, power-hungry career women.
Grace Jones’ sharply-tailored suits with broad padded shoulders inspired the ‘girl power’ and cross-dressing movement of the 1980s.
11. Metal Leather Jacket
The metal leather jacket style is a combo of the motorcycle leather jacket blending solid references to the 80’s metal bands.
Well-tailored and made from barrel-washed goat leather, the jacket’s style is enriched with four frontal pockets and a contrasting zip.
Were Leather Jackets Popular in the 80s?
Worn by the decade’s celebrities (music and film), such as Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cher, Morten Harket, Tom Cruise, and Bon Jovi, the leather jacket was one of the most popular wardrobe items for women and men alike.
What Jacket Was Popular in the 80s?
Two of the most popular 80s leather jacket styles were the bomber jacket and the rocker jacket.
The bomber leather jacket style reached top popularity after the release of the Top Gun movie, and the rocker leather jacket became famous thanks to MTV and the emergence of rock celebrities in the late 80s.
Were Leather Jackets More Popular in the 80s or 90s?
While the trend of leather jackets began in the 80s, the style was equally popular in the 90s fashion.
Both decades are known for giving the world some of the most popular leather jacket styles and trends that still define how we dress in 2023.
While the 1980s fashion styles were also about flaunting wealth and status, the 80s profoundly influenced the rock culture and fashion looks we wear nowadays.
With over half a century at the top of the fashion pyramid and coming in several cuts, styles, colors, and patterns, the leather jacket remains a fashion staple.
I love double rider and cafe-racer jackets from the most popular 80s leather jacket styles, available in genuine leather or vintage leather.
I’ve got mine from The Jacket Maker for several reasons: the quality is exceptional, the price is even better, and above all, they offer the option to customize your leather jacket to your liking.
Regardless of where you order your leather jacket, bookmark this article for inspiration for the most popular leather jacket styles of the 80s.
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Now it’s your turn…
Which of these 80s leather jacket styles do you find the easiest to create?
Are any other leather jacket styles trending in the 80s missing from this list that you want to include in this article? Please share below.
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After years of managing hundreds of fashion brands from London's office of a global retailer, Mandy has ventured into freelancing. Connected with several fashion retailers and media platforms in the US, Australia, and the UK, Mandy uses her expertise to consult for emerging fashion brands create top-notch content as an editorial strategist for several online publications.