How To Break In A Leather Jacket, According To Experts

by Eliza Florendo

Brace yourselves, people — since summer is almost over, fashion's best season is coming up. Fall is around the corner, which means jackets, coats, and sweaters are making their debut. But it also means breaking in a leather jacket, which is one of the most difficult feats of the autumn season.

There are a few wardrobe staples that every woman needs, and they include a good pair of denim, the perfect white t-shirt, practical flats, ankle boots, a cozy turtleneck, and of course, the aforementioned leather jacket.

Buying a new leather jacket is like getting a lifelong present. When taken care of correctly, it can last you a lifetime and pairs perfectly with pretty much everything, cocktail dresses included. Whether you're wearing a leather jacket to a bar or to brunch, it pretty much elevates any look and adds a slight polished edge.

But as with all great things, it has to be taken care of and broken in properly to not only get that nice worn-in look, but to also make it mold to your body, too. Breaking in a leather jacket is no easy feat, though, especially if it's a true biker jacket.

Ahead, experts weigh in on an effective leather jacket breaking-in process. Here are their tips.

1. First, Find The Perfect Fit

The Arrivals

Modular Leather Moto, $745, The Arrivals

Co-Founder and Creative Director of The Arrivals, Jeff Johnson, says that first and foremost, you've got to find a jacket that fits you correctly.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been lured into a thrift shop by that effortlessly cool leather moto, only to purchase it, wear it once and grudgingly realize that the vintage masterpiece really didn't fit right to begin with."

To find the right fit, Johnson suggests finding a jacket that hugs the shoulders with "enough cross-back and cross-front movement for easy mobility. Like a good pair of denim, a good leather jacket needs to be broken in and "gain character with wear."

2. Make Sure The Jacket Fits Comfortably


Rigby Payton Leather Biker Jacket, $670, All Saints

Jason Schott, the chief operating officer of Schott, says it's important to find a jacket that you can actually zip up comfortably. One other thing to think about? You should leave room so that if you want to wear it with a sweater, you have some room.

For Marissa Eisele, marketing and communications manager at AllSaints, sizing down and wearing layers under it to stretch it out is her preferred method. "In the beginning I like to add layers under the jacket and then it stretches out to a nice shape quicker due to the layering," she says.

When she tries on a leather jacket, she always extends her arms straight and cross them in front of her. "A sure sign of a leather jacket being too tight is wrinkling in the upper back and in the shoulder blade area," she says.

3. Use A Leather Conditioner


Leather Honey Leather Conditioner, $18, Amazon

This leather conditioner was invented nearly 50 years ago and has been helping soften leather for almost five decades. Each treatment lasts six months on average, and it's meant to restore, soften, and protect your leather items.

Spread this miracle product onto the toughest parts of your jacket — like the neck piece, the spots where your elbows bend, both front and back, and the shoulder pieces.

Johnson suggests using Chamberlains Leather Milk, which works best on natural leathers, permeating the jacket's surface and replacing the natural oils, Johnson says.

Schott says testing products on a hidden part of your jacket is crucial. Let it sit for 24-hours to see how it changes the color before applying a product all over.

4. Wear It In The Rain

Anine Bing

Anine Bing Cropped Moto Jacket, $1,099, Anine Bing

Designer Anine Bing recommends wearing your leather jacket in all kinds of weather. "Different types of weather can wear it down differently, making it look cool and worn in, so don't be afraid to get it a little wet!" she says.

To do so, Bing suggests finding a jacket you love and can't stop wearing, so that way, you'll wear it to any occasion.

5. Don't Be Afraid To Think Outside The Box


Relaxed Leather Jacket, $298, Levi

There's rumors out there that sleeping in your leather jacket can help break it in... but it does seem rather painful.

"Sleeping in your leather jacket is the rockstar remedy for molding a new leather jacket! If you're able to sleep in your leather jacket, you absolutely should!" Johnson says.

According to Eisele, sleeping in your jacket is a super dedicated method. She does suggest wearing it for an evening out, though. "I prefer the go out for a nice dance and night on the town," she says.

6. Just Wear It


Women's Vintaged Cowhide Black Motorcycle Jacket, $760, Schott NYC

Schott says that wearing it is absolutely the best way to break it in.

"There is no substitute for wearing it, it has to bend where you bend. You can put a little leather oil on to help the process but in order for it to have your unique fit, you need to put in the literal elbow grease and wear it until it forms to fit your shape," Schott says.

7. Consider Softer Leathers


Asymmetrical Zip Leather Jacket, $390, Nordstrom

If you don't want to break a leather jacket in, there are leathers that are easier to mold. Lambskin leather, as well as newbuck or suede-finished jacket in calf or cowhide leather jackets are more supple.

8. Properly Store Your Jacket


Washed Leather Motorcycle Jacket, $498, Madewell

Johnson has a few tips to always follow to care for your jacket post-breaking in: Hang, never fold your jacket, since creases in leather can actually be permanent. And choose your hanger wisely. A proper jacket hanger with a "broad shoulder yoke" avoids leather stretching, says Johnson.

Schott says to keep your jacket away from heat to avoid shrinking it, as well as keeping it on a sturdy hanger and wearing it often.

While breaking in a tough jacket may seem like a daunting (and painful) task, these tips will actually help the process along. After all, 'tis the season for leather jackets, and what better timing than now to make it fit perfectly?