The Fashion Evolution of the Motorcycle Jacket

As a fashion statement, the motorcycle jacket has always had a rebel mystique. It’s danger, sex and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s “Easy Rider” meets urban hipster and according to the trendsetters and tastemakers at 2013 Spring Fashion week, the motorcycle jacket is back.

History: Iconic Cool

Marlon Brando rocked an iconic leather motorcycle jacket topped off with a jaunty Baron cap in the 1953 film “The Wild Ones.” From that moment on his sex-symbol status was about more than just masculinity; it was about freedom, rebellion and individuality. It was about being a rebel with a cause.

Sid Vicious, punk pioneer and casual bassist for the Sex Pistols, added spikes and metal studs to his motorcycle jacket, as if it needed a sharper sense of rebellion. It was less old school Marlon Brando and more “Anarchy in the U.K.” Today, the motos are more subdued in the form of Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs. The 21st century men’s moto is a sleeker, more groomed version sans the spikes.

And the Ladies…

Motorcycle jackets, however, aren’t just a fashion statement for men. Just ask Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex in the City” or Debbie Harry, front woman and fashion goddess of Blondie, the pop-tacular mid-’70s new-wave band that championed street fashion as much as it did hip-hop. These girls love their motorcycle jackets.

Elle magazine highlights the biker jacket this season as the cornerstone of off-duty dressing. Bring on color, an offbeat hem and asymmetrical zipper. Lose the sleeves and wear over a sun dress paired with Gianvito Rossi laced-up summer boots.

From Suburban Dads to Trendy Celebs

When it comes to fashion, all that’s old is one day new again, albeit tweaked, refitted and reinterpreted. Just look at the flapper styles that have hit the runway due to Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” In other words, all you graying suburban dads who bought motorcycle jackets in the ’80s (probably brown, not black) should dust off that relic and reintroduce it into your lives. Or, better yet, give it to your son or daughter so they can rock it with modern style.

Of course, not all men can wear a motorcycle jacket and pull it off. You want to look cool, not like you’re trying to look cool. You don’t want to get dirty looks and snickers if you’re trying to roll up like James Dean at the local Applebee’s on Friday night.

Casual Elegance

For all you ladies in the house who scoff at the idea of motorcycles, leather and quote, unquote ‘tough-looking’ jackets, biker chic can be casually elegant. It’s a style that doesn’t have to scream warm Budweiser, heart tattoos and classic rock. Jessica Alba, Nicole Richie, and Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio have all been seen flaunting eye-catching motorcycle jackets this spring. While a motorcycle jacket is always going to have a little tough-guy glamour, when you match it with an Hermes purse and a pair of flats, you’ve got a feminized look that’s entirely original.

With a moto jacket, you can go punk rock or punk sophisticate. In the end, the only thing that really matters is your ability to rock that jacket with confidence. It’s time for you to pull out Nicholas Cage’s sentiment from “Wild at Heart” — this here jacket is a symbol of individuality and personal freedom. Sure, that was snakeskin, but the idea is the same.

Portrait of a Pretty Mixed Race Young Adult Woman Sitting on a Staircase Wearing Leather Boots and Jacket.