From Sandy’s bad girl makeover in Grease to Rooney Mara’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there is no garment as closely linked with rebellion as a leather jacket. That association gives it instant cool, whether it’s studded with hardware or sleek and understated.

They come in all colours, but the majority in this list are black, not only because it’s the classic biker colour, but also because a leather jacket is an investment piece that should effortlessly slot into your wardrobe.

Of course there are those among us who simply don’t do black, and there are leather jackets aplenty for them too: for Indiana Jones vibes, try a dark brown, while nothing looks more expensive than buttery cream or taupe leather.

A good leather jacket should improve with age, almost moulding to your silhouette as it becomes softer and increasingly battered, so it’s important to consider how it will look in five, or perhaps ten years’ time.

Invest in a quality piece, and take care of it, and you’ll find it will serve you well for years to come.

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Madewell washed leather moto jacket: £498, John Lewis & Partners

J Crew’s hipster sister has done it again with this biker-style jacket, which has just enough hardware to make it look tough, but not so much that it’s gratuitous or heavy. The washed leather is soft and the fit is generous, making it ideal for everyday layering.

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Reiss tay leather biker jacker: £375, Reiss

This one was really flattering and we liked the quilted detail at the sleeves and asymmetric zip. Belts can feel a bit cumbersome on a leather jacket, so the buckles towards the back of the hem are a nice nod to the look without adding extra bulk.

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Zadig & Voltaire leni lisse jacket: £655, Zadig & Voltaire

This is a true borrowed-from-the-boys style with a fit that won’t drown a woman’s body. The leather is more structured than some of the others we tried, but clearly of a good quality, and you can expect any leather to soften with age. The multiple pockets, zips and epaulettes give it a tough biker aesthetic.

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Mango leather biker jacket: £119.99, Mango

This sleek, collarless number from Mango really blew us away for the price – the ultra-soft leather felt like a dream to wear. It’s an understated take on the style with no hardware and invisible press-stud buttons. It’s a fitted, cropped shape with a little room for layers, and all-important side pockets.

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Frame schoolboy leather blazer: £962, Frame

For a smarter take on the leather jacket, try a blazer. The overall look is more formal – you might even be able to wear it to work, dress codes permitting – but it still offers plenty of rebellious edge. We’d team it with knitwear and jeans in the winter, and plain tees or sundresses in summer.

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Belstaff mollison jacket in wild aster nappa leather: £795, Belstaff

You can’t even think about leather jackets without considering Belstaff, the original maker of motorcycle performance wear, now refashioned for a modern consumer. This jacket has a sixties-style collar with quilted shoulders and zipped side pockets. It comes in black, but we especially love the expensive-looking cream version.

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All Saints cargo leather biker jacket: £298, All Saints

If you simply can’t wait for your leather jacket to age with time, All Saints’ vintage-look cargo style is conveniently pre-battered to a charcoal grey. We loved the quilted shoulders and muted hardware. We sized up for a roomier feel, but go for your regular size if you prefer it more fitted.

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Rick Owens clean biker jacket: £1,050, Stylebop

There are many imitators of Rick Owens’ famous jackets, but only one original. The ultra-fitted cut is made comfortable by stretchy cotton panels in the arms, while the funnel neck and side zip become a waterfall collar when unzipped. It’s expensive but a modern classic that will last a lifetime.

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Leather snake print western jacket: £195, Topshop

If you’re not channelling the nineties, are you even into in fashion? Topshop has gone deep into the decade that brought us Friends and the Spice Girls, and the result is a slew of styles that couldn’t look more current. This snake-print version (also a major 2019 trend) is a case in point: cropped, boxy, lightweight and more versatile than you’d expect.

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Whistles agnes pocket leather jacket: £329, Whistles

This dark teal leather jacket is a lovely alternative to black with a classic, fitted cut, plenty of pockets and zips at the slim-fitting sleeves. If you go for your usual size, it won’t accommodate anything but the lightest of layers, so size up if you want to wear it with heavy knits or sweatshirts.

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The verdict: Leather jackets

If you want a wardrobe hero that will last for years, be prepared to invest. We reckon Madewell gives the best bang for your buck. The washed leather looks and feels nicely aged, and there’s just the right amount of hardware to give it edge, but without weighing it down.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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