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What Is A Bomber Jacket?

Many people regard bomber jackets as being one of the most popular forms of winter wear. They are a famous fashion item which has transcended language, borders and culture, and are popular due to their gender neutral and versatile style. But how do they differ from other leather coats and jackets?

What Makes Bomber Jackets Different?

A bomber style jacket is usually short, extending no further than the waist. It has a ribbed or gathered waistband with matching cuffs, and includes a zipper that can be seen in front, with at least four pockets along the sides and top. High quality bomber jackets are made from leather, but they might also be constructed with cotton, nylon or polyester. Additionally, most bomber jackets will either have a shirt collar or a flat round one that matches the waistband. Some collars may also incorporate the Shearling lining.

Bomber Jacket Origins

The bomber jacket originates from the military, specifically the air force. During World War One, the majority of airplanes didn’t have an enclosed cockpit. As such, pilots are exposed to the air. Given the colder temperatures that one experiences when flying at high altitude, the pilots needed a jacket that would keep them nice and warm in the skies. Where then did the term “bomber” come from? The “bomber jacket” was so named because many of these pilots were tasked with dropping bombs on ground targets.

The bomber jacket soon became so popular that eventually, the U.S. Military adopted it as an official part of their aviation clothing. A second version of the bomber jacket was introduced during World War Two, which was named B3. It was more advanced than its predecessor, and incorporated technology that coincided with developments made in aerospace.  Because World War II pilots flew at higher altitudes than their World War I counterparts, they needed a jacket that was even warmer. This was why many of the B3 models incorporated sheepskin.

While these jackets were a necessity for pilots fighting in the World Wars, they eventually captured the imagination of the general public. One of the first models to be introduced to civilians is the MA-1, a jacket made of nylon and came with a lining that was orange in color. Interestingly, the Europeans were the earliest to adopt the bomber jackets for civilian wear, but the bomber jacket style soon became popular in the United States and other countries between the 1960s and 1980s.

What Materials Are These Jackets Made From?

Besides leather, cotton, polyester and nylon, bomber jackets may also be constructed with suede. Some of these jackets are quilted, which refers to the design of their surface. Some designs use quilted sleeves, while others might have various forms of elaborate quilting in multiple places.

There are also padded bomber jackets, which use padding near the elbows or shoulder area. This padding provides additional jacket functionality by giving the wearer extra protection, but many find the padding to also be aesthetically pleasing. The great thing about these jackets is that they are highly versatile and can be worn with virtually anything, from chino to denim, skirts, shorts and even dresses.