If I could get a T-shirt that said “Models Do It Better,” I would. And I would wear it. Often. Not that anyone would confuse me for an actual model, so it wouldn’t seem braggy or anything. It’d serve more as a check (mainly to myself) that just because “off-duty” style looks so incredibly, supremely good on models, doesn’t mean the look will have the same effect on me.
I blame the word. The term off-duty implies so many things that are so damn attractive to me: that one has a steady but not 9-to-5 job, that one’s duties to that job are often suspended midday to allow for heavily photographed Vespa rides, that one’s rides are often through Paris and Florence, that the duties that are currently “off” are as glamorous as the reprieve. If this was off-duty, I wanted in.
The funny thing about models, of course, is that they’re never really off-duty. How is getting your picture taken a thousand times in a second standing outside a just-concluded show with your #squad considered even close to “off-duty”? Especially in this age of the social media model, there is no off-duty, or if there is, it’s that off-stage time that’s their actual job. That’s the time they can craft an image, a style, a few sponsored posts, and, most important, a following.
All this ranting has a point, I promise, and it’s that the moto in recent years has made such a strong showing on models (and as they go, so eventually do we) that it’s become synonymous with “leather jacket.” In the same way we call facial tissues “Kleenex” or Band-Aids, uh, “Band-Aids.” You just don’t think of leather jackets as anything other than throwback bad-boy black, slashy-zippered, and possibly with those ridged shrunken arms, now seen on everyone you wish you were. I know, not because I’m an aloof, impassive observer of trends (although my bank account would benefit if I were, and my writing would suffer). It’s because I had one.
It was McQ, kitted out in gorgeous kohl calfskin, nothing nubby or ridged about it, with a smooth sheen that evoked a still, protected body of water. It was the kind of leather finish that could never be confused with the cheaper “slick,” and I liked that. It was also procured at a pretty steep discount, the only catch being that it was a little larger than fashionable (at the time, two years ago—now the oversize moto is catching on), which suited my taste for drape just fine.
But it never worked. And I only wore it maybe twice. Let me tweak your immediate presumptions about me and my putative spending-and-forgetting habits. Twice is the number of times I wore it out. The number of times I tried it on at home in front of the mirror, trying to see a coherent picture of myself—well, let’s add a few zeroes after that “2.” I must have tried on that jacket every morning for three months straight before relegating it to that corner of my wardrobe where all the stuff I’m not cool enough to wear is. (Don’t worry—it was kept good company by a vintage camel cape.) Because I’m not a Brando, not a model, because I can’t fake street cred (I’ve only ever ridden my brother’s dirt bike, nothing even close to those two-wheeled tricycle-looking things the guys on Sons of Anarchy call “choppers”), and, more and more, I’m learning that not every trend is for me. This was one I tried (and honestly, sometimes you really don’t know till you do) and that just didn’t suit me. I could never just shrug on my moto and have it feel natural, to snap a black leather collar across an epaulet like I was an aspiring sergeant in the punk army. There were too many references and none of them spoke to me, of me, or about me. It just never worked.
So reader, I sold it. The consigner I handed it to thought he won a prize (and I think he might have exercised his staff discount to winning effect later that day). I never really thought I’d own another leather jacket again.
But there’s calf-skinned hope for me yet. The revelation of the last few seasons is that the leather jacket can be more than just a moto, and the alternatives are ever more palatable and pull-off-able for the on-duty crowd (which, yes, includes me). And they’re all standing by at an e-commerce site near you. You could go with a Drome ecru kimono wrap; a boxy Amelia Earhart number by Miu Miu; or venture a toe into the fluoride-free waters of bohemianism and sport a little fringe like those shown at Saint Laurent, which combine a ’90s-CIA-recruit black leather blazer with rock-star-in-the-saddle suede. Juggling those careers, you’d never be off-duty.
I myself am awaiting the arrival of a long, suede, not-quite-bomber jacket, which already feels so much more at one with my person, even though I have yet to actually have it on my person. Almost like a chestnut suede shift with a zipper, it’s at another deep discount, too. It’s from a leather goods brand called Beckett Simonon, and they’re doing the whole direct-to-consumer disruption thing. It’s a little bit throwback, a little bit minimal, and not a tiny bit monastic, which is all just much more Me. What’s stopping you from finding you? Give yourself half a chance, and you might find a You out there, too.
The post Why I’m Ditching the Leather Moto Jacket: Life After the Off-Duty Staple appeared first on Vogue.
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