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Before You Buy a Leather Jacket

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No other outerwear item matches the attitude and versatility of a leather jacket. Perfect for every family member, the leather jacket can go with everything from jeans to cashmere and last for years. Take proper care by storing leather on a sturdy hanger coat hanger and wipe off spills and dirt immediately.

Classic leather jacket

A leather jacket can be a major investment, so stretch your dollars by going with a timeless style for years of wear. Medium-length jackets -- anywhere from top to mid-thigh -- offer the most versatility and wearabilty, but everything from maxi coats to bomber jackets can work depending on your lifestyle. Black is the top color choice.

Designer leather

If your budget allows it, then splurge on a fashion statement leather jacket. Choose from shiny, retro-feel blazers, sleek motorcross designs or long trenches. Some of the hottest trends in leather are actually flattering; longer coats add height and slim the body; zippers and button-front plackets add visual height as well.

Beyond basic leathers

Distressed, waxed and embossed pieces (to imitate croc, snake or alligator) all add fashion flash to an ordinary hide. You can also choose metallics or bright dyes for even more glitz. Hides can be treated to make nubuck (buffing the hair side for a velvety finish) or suede (buffing the flesh side). Fur trims and linings add an elegant touch, while hoods give a jacket a sporty feel.

Budget buys in leather

Expect to pay about $250 for a good leather jacket. After the first of October, many U.S. retailers drop their prices on outerwear to drive sales. So what's really a bargain? It depends on whether you are going for a pricey investment jacket to last for years (where upwards of $500 is a steal divided by years of use) or a trendy piece to last one season (like a faux shearling for less than $75).

Care products

Leather is relatively easy care for if you take preventative measures. Store it so it can breathe (no plastic!), wipe off spills and dirt on smooth leather with a damp cloth, regularly brush suedes and nubucks. Fix hem problems with a touch of rubber cement. For major cleaning, avoid at-home products (especially waxes and other items that clog up leather pores); find a leather cleaning specialist.
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