The bomber jacket is an unlikely fashion classic. “Bombadier” jackets were first introduced in 1917, created by the US Army’s new Aviation Clothing Board, to give freedom of movement and protection to pilots working in freezing conditions in open cockpits. Two world wars and hundreds of Hollywood war films later, the quiet cool of the era’s greatest leading men rubbed off and the bomber had secured a permanent place in fashion’s arsenal.
Rebellious but somehow brainier than a biker jacket (perhaps because Einstein wore one habitually; he described it as having “solved the jacket problem”), the bomber has been favoured by alternative cultures whose aesthetic is all about looking sharp without looking like you’re trying too hard – modish scooter boys, ska kids, skinheads, hip-hop pioneers… While on the silver screen the bomber’s early association with so many reluctant war-movie heroes continued via James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, Tom Cruise in Top Gun and Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting before eventually ending up on Ryan Gosling in Drive.
This season they are a key piece once again. The Gosling effect was visible in many designers’ spring collections. Silky bombers with flamboyant, decorative touches were on show everywhere from Phillip Lim and Jonathan Saunders to Stella McCartney. Meanwhile there was a sporty take by Marc Jacobs and Pringle, and a nod to street style at Acne, whose spring bomber would be as much at home at a Specials gig as on the runway. Not that you need a designer version to nail this trend. The high street has gone bananas for the bomber this season, offering a take to suit every wardrobe and budget. Here is my pick of the best:
Silky bombers are a great choice for evening. If you don’t want to go for black, try metallics.
The luxe bomber is very of the moment. This silk-lamé version by Vionnet shows just how chic this kind of jacket can be, but it comes with a price tag to match. Topshop’s glistening alternative comes in at a much more doable £58.
Sporty versions are great with jeans. Try Mango, J Crew, or this sweetly 50s, bow-smattered number from Antipodium.
This summer’s trend for ballsy florals has translated into a bumper crop of cotton bombers featuring breezy botanicals. As you might imagine with a name like Reclaimed Vintage, this Asos jacket is a great buy for ethical shoppers.
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