What Is A Bomber Jacket?

What Is A Bomber Jacket?

Leather Bomber Jacket Illustration

A bomber jacket is a waist-length outerwear with standard features such as roomy arms and shoulders, ribbed collars, cuffs and waistband, and a front zip closure. It was initially designed for World War I pilots, who required a snug fitted, insulated outerwear while flying at high altitudes. However, the functional design and the stylish look of the jacket eventually made it a versatile fashion garment that every man and woman wants to keep in their wardrobes.

Any clothing that you wear represents your personal choice. Having comprehensive knowledge about the origin, types, and how to wear a garment can help you style it in a better way. Read this in-depth blog to learn what a bomber jacket is, how it evolved and made its way into the current fashion scape, and how it can make you look dapper. 

How Did Bomber Jacket Get its Name? 

The name of the bomber jacket reflects upon its military origin, as it was first designed for the fighter pilots of the World War II when aerial bombing raids were common. The first version of the bomber jackets was referred to as the flight jackets, also hinting towards the purpose they served: keeping the pilots warm and protected during the flights.    

What is a Flight Jacket?

Flight Jacket Illustration

The name flight jacket was given to the initial jackets worn by pilots during the first World War. A flight jacket is a roomy jacket with knit waistband, matching cuffs, and shearling lining. It has a knitted collar, and four functional pockets and a few inner pockets. The design later evolved into the bomber jacket and the varsity or Letterman jacket, though the jackets inspired by the design of original are still called flight jackets. 

The Utilitarian Origin of the Bomber Jacket

During the first World War, the U.S. Army and the Aviation Clothing Board made flight jackets a part of the uniform worn by US military pilots. The war jets had open cockpits, and it was crucial for the pilot to wear something that provided adequate insulation in the freezing temperatures at high altitudes. Hence, the A-1 flight jacket originated.  

Years later, when World War II took place, bomber planes were technologically advanced and could fly at higher altitudes. A jacket was needed that wouldn’t hinder the pilot from managing control of the jet yet provide absolute warmth. Then, the B3 version came into being, made of sheepskin leather and fur lining. 

What Was a Bomber Jacket Used For? 

Issues that World War I and II pilots could face while flying a plane at high altitudes in open-air cockpits needed a solution. The lightweight leather bomber jackets kept them warm and were durable enough to withstand impact from the elements. The ribbed cuffs and waist made sure heat was trapped inside the jacket. 

Popularity in Mainstream Fashion 

Some more flight jacket versions came on that were made with different materials, such as goatskin or sheepskin, mostly with or without the fur lining. But it was in the 1950s that the MA-1 bomber jacket broke the records of the previous ones in terms of popularity. The jacket was made of nylon and had an orange lining and an elastic collar.  

In the 50s and 60s, the bomber jacket became even more popular, integral to the subcultures rooted in Europe in those decades.  

Several fashion staples and trends are inspired by military uniforms, whether combat style boots, camouflage prints or cinched hem trousers. The bomber jacket is one of them, completing its journey that began in World War 1 cockpits to the wardrobes of the commercial consumer. 

How the Pop Culture Drive the Popularity of Bomber Jackets?

The bomber jacket is now a staple of American pop culture, indicating the pop culture’s influence propagating its inclusion in fashion. It first appeared in the 1930s as a uniform for pilots and airmen, but it gained unparalleled popularity in the 1950s, thanks to the Hollywood actors. 

Tom Cruise wore the legendary leather G-1 jacket in the 1986 action film Top Gun and its most recent sequel, 2022 Top Gun Maverick, making it an essential pop culture icon. The jacket features patches, a brown fleece collar, and a worn leather collar. 

The much loved character of Indiana Jones wore an A-2 style lambskin bomber jacket with added side pleats for a more excellent range of motion. Harrison Ford played it in the 1989 movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  

In the movie Poison Rose, John Travolta’s Brown bomber jacket is made of unique suede leather.  

Design Evolution of Bomber Jacket and its Types Through the Years  

More than a century has passed ever since the first flight jackets were introduced. The jacket's design kept evolving, and all the new and earlier designs now coexist, allowing people to choose whatever suits them best. All the design variations have been interesting throughout these years. Here's a rundown of the bomber jacket versions. 


A1 is an insulated jacket that keeps out cold air. It was first created by US Army Aviation clothing in 1927 and officially decommissioned in 1931. It had a fitted waist and cuffs. Near the waist, it had flapped front pockets as well. It originally featured a knit collar and seven buttons. Horse leather, sheepskin, and goatskin were materials used to make the jacket. 


The A-2 flying jacket came in the 1930s and differed from the A-1 in terms of collar and zipper, though the cut was similar. The A-2 had heavy-duty fasteners, ribbed waistband and cuffs, high-collar wind flaps, and zipper front closures despite including closed cockpits. First, the A2 was made of seal brown horsehide leather with silk and goatskin leather with cotton lining throughout the war.  


Bombers who needed to fly above 25000 feet height used to wear B-3 flight jackets in 1934. Sheepskin and thick sheep's fur were used to keep the pilots warm at such high altitudes. A large sheepskin collar could be fastened with two leather straps. It had no knit waistline or trim fit like other jackets. 


B-6 was initially created in 1943; B-3 was also present then. It is a less bulky alternative to a flight jacket. Despite using sheepskin and dense sheep fur, it has a single throat lock, angled slash pocket, and less shearing. 


The B-7 parka was made primarily for grounded crew members and men flying through Alaska's extreme cold. Its three-quarter length is made entirely of shearling, except for the hood, which is lined with coyote fur. Due to its high cost of production, it was made only for one year, that is, 1941-1942. 


The versatile and lightweight B-10 flight jacket came out in 1943. It is made of cotton with a polyacrylic blend lining and a shirt collar in alpaca fur. G-1, which came later on, had features similar to B-10 jackets, such as a zip fastening without a wind flap and pockets in a similar form. 


B-15 is an alternative to the sheepskin flight jacket initialized in 1944. It can be called a proper bomber jacket. Its left sleeve features leather straps for oxygen masks and pen pockets. It comprises various shell components with a blend of cotton -rayon, and nylon. 


The M422 is the antecedent of the M422a in every way except for the pencil slot in the left pocket of the M422a Jacket. 


The M422A became a standard leather jacket for aircrews throughout WW2. The classic fur-collared, goatskin M422A flight jacket fits the needs of both the cockpit and windy deck. M422a was also used by the US, helping the Chinese combat the Japanese.  


The G-1, another version of the M422a, was introduced into service in the late 1930s until today as the official flight jacket. The G1 Bomber jacket has featured a lamb mouton fur collar. The two large fronts, button flap pockets, radiused lower corners, and a gently curved flap zipper, wind-flap, and 100% rayon lining to keep you warm. It is popular with civilians as well. 


When the MA-1 came out in 1958, they were perfect and were made of wind and water-resistant fabric. The elastic knit collars, sleeves, and waist made bomber jackets famous. Due to these factors, people began wearing them year-round because they were comfortable and gave an exotic image. 


The MA-2 bomber or CWU-45 flying jacket was designed for the U.S. military in the 1950s. Compared to an MA-1, the MA-2 has several design changes, with large cargo pockets replacing the MA-1's tiny slash pockets. For the elasticized collar of the MA-1, a fold-down collar is used. Sleeves join in the back for more effortless movement. These are created from flame-resistant fabric instead of flammable ones. 

Irvin Flying Jacket 

The jacket was made in 1926 by Leslie Irvin, who was credited for giving it its name. He designed zipped-up long sleeves to wear gauntlets. A wide collar that could be raised to insulate the pilot's neck, head, and face, and a waist belt prevented draughts from lowering his body temperature and attentiveness.  

Modern Bomber Style Jacket Designs 

Today, the bomber jacket has evolved into modern and sleeker designs. Unlike the very first bomber jackets, contemporary bomber style jackets usually have modish details and slimmer silhouettes. However, if your dad has passed on his blouson jacket to you, wear it with pride, as vintage leather and retro styles are currently trending huge. Here are a few styles of different bomber jackets you can opt for. 

Quilted Bomber Jacket  

People looking for warm bomber jackets with exquisite design details can go for quilted ones. The warm quilted jackets are excellent for fall and winter streetwear ensembles.  

Quilted jackets can either have a quilted lining, a quilted design on the jacket, or both.  

Padded Bomber Jacket  

Many bomber style jackets feature padding under the shoulders and other places to elevate the structured look and provide warmth. 

Hooded Bomber Jacket  

Can a standard bomber jacket get any better? Yes, if it comes with a hood. The hood shields your head and neck from the cold wind, often curbing the need for a beanie. Hooded jackets in bomber style are a must have for hip hop fashion buffs, athleisure, or laid back style casual outfits.  

The styles mentioned below are rare for jackets in men's style, but men who have a knack for eccentric, outlandish fashion can opt for these. 

Cropped Bomber Jacket  

Unlike the standard bomber that ends at the waist, cropped versions of the jacket are shorter, ending above the waist.  

Floral Bomber Jacket  

Bomber jackets with floral prints or embroidery are one of the most popular trends nowadays. However, the category is chosen mainly by women. 

How to Choose a Bomber Jacket for Yourself


A bomber jacket can be a weapon in your style arsenal that would never miss the target of making you look dashing. However, you need to keep a few things in check before investing in a jacket:

1. The Fit of the Bomber Jacket  

The bomber jacket is supposed to be snug, but not to the extent that layering something under it becomes impossible. It should have enough room as a jacket that fits tightly around the shoulders would hinder movement. Oversized ones, on the other hand, look very bulky.

2. The Material of the Jacket  

Make sure any material you opt for is durable, as you would probably wear your bomber jacket frequently. Outerwear made with sturdy material also protects you from the elements on adventures. In contrast, low grade material would soon rip off if you wear it often.

3. Quality of Lining and Hardware  

Choose a jacket that is lined with quality material. Something that makes the jacket well suited to the climate that you would wear it in. Also, zippers and any metallic hardware that is used on the jacket must be of high quality. Poshele uses premium quality YKK zippers which are self lubricating and get smoother with use.

4. Go for Colors, Patterns, and Styles that Make it Versatile  

You need to prioritize versatility when choosing a jacket. Everything from the color of the jacket to prints, details, and styles should reflect your personal style. Do not hop on to the bandwagon just because you see outerwear dominating streetwear nowadays. Pick a color or print that resonates with your persona or goes with the clothing staples in your wardrobe. 

Commonly Used Materials for Bomber Jackets

Brands offer jackets in bomber style in a wide range of materials, such as genuine leather, suede, polyester, satin, fleece, faux leather (PVC), or nylon. You can also opt for wool, denim, twill, corduroy, and canvas for your jackets. Going for a custom bomber jacket in the material of your choice is a great way to ensure the level of warmth, comfort, and durability you desire.  

Bomber leather jackets are also available in a wide variety, and you can choose a material based on your choice. Full grain cowhide, sheepskin, lambskin, and other types of animal leather are used to make bomber jackets. Shearling and suede bomber jackets are popular choices for men. 

Popular Patterns in Bomber Jackets  

If your style sense is peppy, you don’t need to go for a plain bomber jacket. Instead, opt for jackets in eye pleasing patterns such as stripes, camouflage, or plaid. Modern bomber jacket prints with florals and micro florals are making huge waves in the 2022-2023 fashion radar.  

Trending Colors in Bomber Jackets  

If you are wondering, “what color jacket should I get?” make a choice based on three standards: 

  • Will the color of my jacket suit go well with my current clothing? 
  • Is the color according to my personal style? 
  • Is the color trending? 

These three points help you to select a versatile and sought after a bomber jacket that you would keep on rotation throughout the season. You can opt for trending hues, such as red, blue, green, or burgundy, or go with highly versatile colors to ease outfit building, such as black, brown, or white bomber jackets.  

Comparing the Bomber Jacket with Other Types of Jackets

All types of jackets keep you warm from harsh weather, but honestly, they are different from each other. Here is a quick list of how bomber jackets differ from other jackets. 

Bomber Jacket Vs Biker Jacket  

Typical bomber jacket features include a straight front zipper, elastic cuffs, and waist (often a ribbed collar). It is a jacket with a blouson fit. While the biker jacket has an asymmetrical zipper, lapel collars with metal snaps, zipped sleeves, and a sleek, streamlined fit.  

Bomber Jacket Vs Parka Jacket  

A bomber jacket is a lightweight, hooded, zippered jacket. In contrast, parka jackets are heavier and have a fur-lined hood. Parkas are worn in chilly weather and have fur on the hood, cuffs, and hem.  

Bomber Jacket Vs Varsity Jacket 

Varsity jackets are similar in style and design to bomber jackets but have stripes, button closures, and colorful sleeves. Bomber jackets have a zipper and a fitted or elastic waist, often in two contrasting colors. Varsity jackets are more vibrant than bomber jackets. 

Bomber Jacket Vs Puffer Jacket 

A bomber jacket is typically made of leather or nylon. It often has a hood and a front zipper. "Arctic jackets" are puffer jackets. They have a hood lined with fur and down or synthetic insulation. Due to its lightweight design, this jacket is popular in cold climates. 

What to Wear with a Bomber Jacket?

To learn how to wear a bomber jacket, keep its silhouette, style, and color in mind. You can build bomber jacket outfits by layering them over turtlenecks, t-shirts, chambray shirts, or button down shirts in stylish patterns. A popular way to wear bomber jackets is to layer them over hoodies. Bomber jackets look good over slim fit or straight leg jeans, ripped skinny jeans, camo pants, twill chinos, khakis, or joggers.  

Besides sneakers of all kinds, you can round off a bomber jacket with loafers, suede ankle boots, or leather sneakers.  


Are Bomber Jackets Good for Keeping You Warm? 

Bomber jackets are unparalleled when it comes to insulation. The cinched waist and knitted cuffs keep the heat inside, while the boxy silhouette allows room for layering.  

Can You Wear Bomber Jackets in Winter? 

Yes, winter is the right time to wear insulating bomber jackets. For winters, go for shearling wool or nylon bomber jackets lined with fur or fleece.  

Can You Wear Bomber Jackets in Summer? 

Yes, you can wear lightweight bomber jackets in summer. You can go for lightweight denim bomber jackets or a polyester jacket for layering on a moderately warm day.  

Are Bomber Jackets Waterproof? 

Depending on the material, bomber jackets can be waterproof. If the jacket is made of nylon, PVC, or waterproof fabric, it keeps you dry.  

Can I Wear Bomber Jacket in the Rain? 

If your bomber jacket is made from a waterproof material like nylon and has a soft-shell lining, you can wear it in the rain. It is not recommended to wear a leather bomber jacket in the pouring rain. However, a light shower won’t damage it.  

Are Bomber Jackets Casual or Formal? 

Bomber jackets come under the casual wear category, mainly due to their relaxed silhouette and rib knitted cuffs and waist. It is the perfect outerwear with simple outfits with straight leg jeans and for high end street style looks.   

Are Bomber Jackets Trending These Days? 

Bomber jackets have never really been 'out' of fashion, but we can clearly see their surge in popularity for 2022-2023. With the rise in sports-luxe style, and retro subcultures making waves, bomber jackets are definitely here to stay. 

Will Bomber Jackets Go Out of Fashion? 

Bomber jackets are not going out of style any time soon. Termed a timeless classic by fashion enthusiasts, the bomber jacket is a staple that has been trending every decade since it entered mainstream fashion.  

Who Wears a Bomber Jacket? 

Once reserved for the pilots of the armed forces, the jacket has paved a permanent way into the common man's wardrobe. It's a staple loved and donned by hip-hop artists, skaters, preppy followers, athletes, and fashion lovers alike.  

How Should a Bomber Jacket Fit? 

An oversized bomber jacket shows creased shoulders which give a slouchy look. Nor should the jacket be very tight. Ideally, creases shouldn't form on the shoulder area of your jacket if your arms are resting.  

Do Bomber Jackets Have a Hood? 

Some bomber jacket designs now feature a hood, a very stylish and useful addition to help you stay warm and snug while giving a cool look. 

What is the Difference Between a Leather Bomber Jacket & a Regular Leather Jacket? 

Leather bomber jackets are a unique model of jackets with a blouson fit and cropped length. Regular leather jackets can be of any type and have a wide variety, including biker jackets, cafe racer jackets, blazers, or quilted leather jackets. 

How to Clean a Bomber Jacket? 

To clean a bomber jacket made with leather, gently wipe it off with a mildly damp microfiber cloth (or dipped in a mixture of vinegar and water). Get rid of stains and unsightly marks with the help of a good quality leather cleaner.  

Bomber jackets made of fabrics and waterproof materials can be washed to make them clean.  

Wrapping Up  

The rich history behind the bomber jackets, their design variations, and their absolute functionalities make them a highly sought after garment for men of all ages and fashion senses. If you want to get your hands on a perfect bomber style jacket to complete your outfits, check out Poshele's collection of men's bomber jackets.