What is a Bomber Jacket? Everything You Need to Know About the Most Sought-After Outerwear

what is a bomber jacket

If you are looking to invest in a practical, versatile outerwear that also scores high on the style meter, a men’s bomber jacket may be your best choice. The jacket is a perfect concoction of comfort, panache, functionality, which has been a part of the fashion landscape for over a century now. If you are interested to learn about what is a bomber jacket, let’s go through the characteristics, history, variations, and styles of this top rated outerwear. 

Why the bomber jacket is a must have for every men’s capsule wardrobe is a question that has many answers. Its popularity as a classy wardrobe staple is likely to stay undiminished. Thanks to its unique silhouette, it brings out the masculinity within you. It also reveals the wearer’s fashion sense as its design blends well with contemporary fashion standards.  

Above all, styling the bomber jacket is a breeze as it can make you look elegant even if you pair it with a plain t-shirt and jeans. 

Here is a rundown on this highly popular piece of clothing. Below, we will discuss the design, evolution and several factors of the classic bomber jacket to help you make an informed choice before buying it. 

Story Behind the Name: Why is it called a Bomber Jacket?

As much as the jacket’s name is justified by the flattering vibes it gives, Bomber Jacket’s name definitely has a story behind it. 

It was first used by the US airforce bomber crew in 1917 to keep them warm at high altitudes. During WW1, the US Army Aviation Clothing Board came up with the jacket’s design with an intention to provide a protective garment to the crew present on the open cockpits of the fighter planes. It was designed with enough room for mobility yet heavy insulation to shield the pilots from harsh cold weather. 

The Bomber Jacket Saga: A Quick Historical Account of the Famous Outerwear

How a jacket that began as a utilitarian military garment is now an integral part of current fashion? Here is a brief historical account of the men’s bomber jacket history.  

Imagine yourself in the shoes of a WW1 pilot who is supposed to carry out war tasks in freezing weather, and that too in an open cockpit of a fighter jet! The only way to survive the harsh, icy winds is a heavy jacket whose functional design will protect you. 

Kudos to the intelligent design team at the US airforce. That is precisely how bomber jackets originated in the 1920s.

The materials used in these vintage jackets were leather, wool, and silk to ensure warmth. Plus, the ribbed cuffs and waistline and spacious front pockets were a distinguished feature of the jacket’s design.

Fast forward to the WW2 era, the needs of the pilots changed. Their job included flying at even higher altitudes in more extreme temperatures. That’s how the shearling bomber jackets came into being. They featured sheepskin as the main material and an even heavier insulation layer. 

Since then, there is no looking back for the bomber jackets. The fact that they have a long history behind them and are still famous proves the success of the design that never went out of fashion. 

The Upsurge in Bomber Jacket’s Popularity Due to Pop Culture

Much credit for the bomber jacket’s popularity goes to the Hollywood stars who wore it in massive hits. The bomber jacket has been featured in pop culture several times in history, showing its strong impact on shaping the fashion senses of the audience.

In the movie The Great Escape, Steve Mcqueen’s adventurous and macho character wore the bomber jacket that elevated the bomber jacket’s popularity in the 1960s.

The character Tom Cruise played in Top Gun is another claim to fame for outerwear. His dashing, rugged look was enhanced with the G-1 style jacket that is still replicated by fashion enthusiasts. 

In 2006’s popular hit Casino Royale, Daniel Craig also sported a chic bomber jacket.

Even now, famous celebrities like David Beckham, Ryan Gosling, and Bradley Cooper are often spotted adorning the bomber jacket. Their dapper style shows how this wardrobe staple can instantly upgrade your panache. You can wear the vintage style men’s bomber jacket or contemporary ones as per your style needs. 

Classic Characteristics of the Bomber Jacket

Since its origin, the bomber jacket has been through a lot of evolution in terms of design. Although You can still find the heavily insulated, quintessential flight jacket if you need it. Yet, the variety available nowadays is vast due to the modifications in the material and style, making it versatile enough for all consumer categories. Probably that is the reason why the bomber jacket is still unbeatable in terms of popularity. 


The shape of a typical men’s bomber jacket is oversized and boxy, serving the functional purpose for the pilots it was initially meant for. The broad silhouette is more prominent as the jacket is cinched from the waist and cuffs. 

Mostly, the bomber jacket’s baggy shape is not a part of contemporary design iterations. The jacket is much sleeker to fit the style needs of the modern fashion-savvy men. Slim, more shapely number jackets are a great option to layer outfits complying to the smart casual dress code for men. Or, if your look is that of a macho, you can get your hands on a slim-fit flight jacket to enhance your masculine appearance.


The classic bomber jacket featured a wide shirt collar. Depending upon the weather conditions, it was lined with fur in the shearling version. Still, a leather shirt collar with wide lapels was conventional. 

Nowadays, you can find bomber jackets with either the same classic wide collars or ribbed ones. 

Sleeves and Cuffs

Baggy sleeves and gathered cuffs, either knitted or fastened with a button, are an integral part of the bomber jacket since the beginning. This feature is retained in almost every model of the jacket. Though the cinched cuffs’ primary function purely served the purpose to inhibit the airflow up in the arms of the fighter pilots, they are now considered a stylish characteristic of the jacket. The sleeves in bomber jackets these days usually have slant zippers to add a bit of style. 


Just like the cuffs, the hemline of the men’s bomber jacket is also knitted, intended to fit the waist. Also, the hem is a bit higher than other jacket styles, allowing a comfortable fit at the waist when zipped up. 


Commonly, a bomber jacket has two wide pockets at the front with diagonal zippers or flapped button closures. However, the number of pockets maybe three to four in many design variations. The contemporary designs specifically feature simple pockets to give the jacket a neat look. 

Front Closure

A straight front closure fastened till the collar is typical in a bomber jacket. The closure can be zipped or buttoned. 


Depending upon the level of warmth required, men’s bomber jackets are lined with lightweight or heavy materials. Satin, fur, polyester, thick cotton, and sherpa are widely used materials for lining these jackets. 

Design Variants of the Bomber Jacket

  • A-1

The first in the lot, the flight jacket used by the pilots during the 1920s, was known as the A1 jacket. Made with tough brown horse leather, the jacket’s design features a heavy cotton lining, flapped cargo pockets, a knitted collar, and buttoned closure.  The cuffs and the waistband were knitted in the vintage A1 flight jacket.

  • A-2

Followed by its predecessor A1, the A2 jacket came into being in the 1930s. The variant had a difference in design, with features like the button-up closure being replaced by a zipped one and collars wider than the A1 style. It also included wind flaps in its design. 

  • B3 or Shearling Bomber Jacket  

The B3 jacket was introduced soon after the A2 leather bomber jackets. They were much heavier than earlier models as they were lined with thick sheep fur to keep the pilot safe from the extremely low temperature at high altitudes. It also had two leather straps on the collar, which were used to fasten it around the neck.

Following the B3 bomber jacket, further models were introduced with changes in the fit and other specifications. The B6 jacket was designed with a slimmer fit, whereas the B10 model was the first one with an alpaca lining. 

During the same era, the British version of the flight jacket was introduced, known as the Irvin RAF Flying jacket. It had a belted waist, a heavy lining and a boxy silhouette as well. 

  • G1 Jacket

The distinguished feature of the G1 jackets that originated in the late 1930s was a sheep fur collar. The hemline and cuffs in this model are knitted. Plus, there are two pockets with a buttoned flap on the front. The G1 jacket became highly famous after Tom Cruise wore it in Top Gun. 

  • MA-1

Originating in 1955, the MA-1 leather bomber jacket is hands down the most popular flight jacket worn by pilots between the 1950s to 1970s. It features the quintessential orange inner lining of the jacket, a water-resistant nylon satin outer layer, and a slant pencil pocket on the sleeves. The MA-1 jacket typically has an elastic knit collar. The design is still widely prevalent and scores high among other outerwear on the style meter.

  • Varsity 

Among the different types of men’s bomber jackets, a variant that has made it to contemporary fashion, especially athleisure and streetwear, is the varsity jacket. It also goes by the name of the Letterman jacket. 

The varsity jacket is different from a typical bomber jacket in style with its differently colored sleeves and stripes in the waistband and collar. Most of them feature a combination of material, such as suede, leather, polyester, or nylon. The vintage design is often opted by men who want a sporty, athletic look. 

Letterman or varsity jackets are available in a variety of colors and combinations. Black and grey, red and white, green and white or blue and white are the most popular combinations. 

What Materials are Used to Make Bomber Jackets

Several fabrics and materials are used to manufacture bomber jackets. In fact, the durability factor often associated with bomber jackets depends on what material is used to make it. 

  • Natural Materials

Leather bomber jackets are undoubtedly the most popular among all other types of leather jackets. It is a fact that the biker jacket, racer jacket, and even the quilted jackets made with leather add to the dapper looks of a man. Yet, it is the bomber jacket that steals the spotlight due to its versatility and characteristic style. 

Other natural materials used to make bomber jackets are suede and wool

  • Synthetic Materials

Bomber jackets are also created using synthetic materials like Polyester and Nylon, which makes the jacket waterproof. 

  • Fabrics

It is not uncommon to see the bomber jacket style made in fabrics such as denim and satin. They are, in fact, very popular among people who live in moderately hot areas where winters aren’t that cold. 

Bomber Jacket Ruling the Men’s Contemporary Outerwear Market

Coming back to the current fashion scape, we see stylish men wearing leather bomber jackets all around us. One of the prime reasons why it is a men’s wardrobe staple is that styling a bomber jacket is effortless. There are so many clothing essentials that go well with it, including a variety of shirts and bottoms. 

Popular colors

Although black and brown remain the most popular colors in a bomber jacket, men also prefer the typical army green color that was used to make the earlier versions of the bomber jacket.

Besides the versatile black and brown bomber jackets, you can easily find them in multiple colors like grey, navy blue, burgundy, and white. 


There are many styles of the bomber jacket that are dominating the men’s fashion arena. We are stating a few that you can opt for depending upon the look you desire. 

  • Quilted

What is a Quilted Bomber Jacket?

A quilted bomber jacket features a cushioned pattern on the external layer of the jacket. The jacket may be fully quilted or have some detailing along the sleeves and front side. 

The quilted jackets are perfect for men looking for a refined and classy look.

  • Padded

Padding is the use of thick material on the inner layer of the shoulders and elbow of the bomber jacket that adds warmth to the jacket. The padded jackets also make you look super handsome, especially if you have a sculpted body.  

The main difference between quilted and padded bomber jackets is the use of cushioning either on the external layer of the jacket(in the case of quilting) or the internal layer (in the case of padding). Both are a perfect choice for winters.

  • Lightweight

Lightweight bomber jackets are a perfect spring or fall essential, as they don’t have a heavy lining. They are mostly made with nylon satin or suede to make them appropriate for moderate temperatures.

  • With a hoodie

Many brands now add a hoodie in bomber jacket designs to make it more suitable for a rugged look, or for anyone with a quirky, youthful personality. A hoodie adds a cool look to the jacket. It is a highly functional addition to the jacket for use in rainy or sunny weather. 


Bomber Jacket is the men’s favorite outerwear due to its distinctive design that adds dashing vibes to the wearer. It is highly voguish outerwear that has a rich history behind it. Yet, it is still a timeless classic which is still trending. The fact that you can easily put on a bomber jacket, whether you are just going for a casual day meetup or a hip hop night party, makes it tremendously versatile outerwear.