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Last Updated on April 20, 2022
Few clothing items have such a rich history as the bomber jacket. They were created with practicality in mind to serve a very clear purpose: to keep pilots warm.
But, they looked so good that they were eagerly adopted as a fashion item and they have since known every type of embellishment and customization.
There are myriad ways to wear a bomber jacket, but fear not, we have done the leg work so you don’t have to.
Read ahead to get all the tidbits on how to style different types of bomber jackets to achieve amazing looks!
A Brief History of the Bomber Jacket
The bomber jacket was originally called the “flight jacket” and was designed in the 1950’s as uniform to in the US military air forces. There are several features of the bomber jacket that can be seen to this day, which serve as a reminder of its past function.
For example the thick, elasticated collar was implemented into the design to allow enough room for the parachute harness, and the slim silhouette encouraged body temperature increase and easy mobility in cramped conditions.
In an unlikely event, the bomber jacket was reborn into a newfound popularity in the late 80’s/early 90’s, when it could be seen worn by celebrities and movie stars such as Matthew Broderick in the iconic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. Not to mention, the notable appearance in award winning motion picture “Top Gun”, sported by Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis.
Nowadays, the bomber jacket is not just available in its signature style, but many fast-fashion brands have designed a contemporary take on the signature look by adding hoods, using a multitude of different fabrics, and even lengthening the hem for a “trench coat” vibe.
How to Style the 90’s Bomber Jacket for Men
Dress it Up
To achieve the ultimate retro vibe, opt for an oversized, colour block bomber layered over a polo neck, and add white, loose-fit jeans. Next you want to add a few gold chains for a bit of bling – and of course, the look wouldn’t be complete without chunky sole sneakers!
You can usually find these vintage jackets at thrift stores, charity boutiques or even from Ebay or Depop for a great bargain! This look can be seen modelled perfectly by this trendy teen:
In the colder months, the regular lightweight version of the bomber may no longer be a wise choice (especially in the northern latitudes). Luckily this garment is super versatile and there are certain tips and tricks you can master in order for this one statement piece to last you all year round.
For example, you can simply layer up with a hoodie that is thin enough to not look bulky and to complete the look; throw on a beanie, scarf, and a pair of Doc Martens. It really is as easy as that!
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Dress it Down
To create a more casual ensemble for those relaxed weekends at home, or a day on the beach, pair an MA1 aviator with a crisp white tee, distressed light-wash denims and chunky trainers for an effortlessly edgy vibe.
Alternatively, embrace your inner hip-hop fantasy by layering the MA1 over an unbuttoned long plaid shirt and layer over a few pieces of gold jewellery.
Going for an adventure in the big city?
Why not take style inspo from Ferris Beuller’s suave ensemble by pairing an animal print vest with a plain crew-neck tee, grey double pleated trousers and white bowling shoes. You’ll be sure to turn heads for all the right reasons!
For a vintage flair, follow the lead of young trend-setter Brooklyn Beckham, spotted at London Fashion Week wearing the Burberry Harrington Jacket. Get the look for less by investing in a tan bomber with an oversized fit, boot cut pants and a tweed flat cap.
This is a classic style that has surpassed the test of time and pays homage to some of the 90’s coolest icons.
Athleisure for the Gents
Looking good in sporty garments is not reserved only for athletic people anymore, and adding an element of luxury to an otherwise unassuming ensemble is a favorite of a lot of gents. Particularly for a relaxed going out.
If you are not into colors and your wardrobe basically consists of one or two basic hues. Worry not, this is definitely a great option for you. A khaki or green bomber jacket is a classic that dates back to its creation days and that incidentally, looks amazing paired with most other colors (kinda works like denim in that sense!).
Black, grey, beige, brown, or blue will all work with varying degrees of success with this look. To keep it luxe, I would shy away from super shiny fabrics and keep it as opaque as possible, with matching cuffs and zippers. Contrasting shades will look the most stunning. Think black, dark grey, or very light beige.
On the other hand, if you want to play it hip, shine away! Pair your satiny bomber with nylon jogging pants, a soft terry sweatshirt, and trending rubber-soled boots for added street cred. Keeping things more or less in the same hue is another great idea to make it feel more luxe even if each garment is totally relaxed.
Printed bombers are one of my favorite options for guys that are not afraid to bring their A-game and push the limits. Of course, it all really depends on the prints, but if you don’t pair it up with another print and keep things chill, with say a pair of classic jeans and a grey sweatshirt, there’s literally no way that things can go wrong.
On the other hand, if you are definitely not that kind of guy, and black on black on black is more up your aisle, your trusty bomber jacket is also there for you! Think black denim with a knit black sweater and black boots with a black bomber on top. Crisp, elegant, and as badass as can be!
In case you were wondering, green is also a great fuss-free option for many styles of streetwear. Bomber jackets can instantly add flair to your same old white t-shirt. Of course, adding a pair of Ray-ban shades to complete your off-duty pilot look will certainly guarantee a sigh or too!
How to Style the 90’s Bomber Jacket for Women
Dress it up
Whatever your personal style, there is guaranteed to be a way to incorporate the bomber jacket into your everyday attire.
For a night out on the town, channel “Clueless” vibes by pairing your bomber with a plaid skater skirt, kitten heels, knee high socks and a white scuba top.
To accessorize, invest in a plaid mini shoulder bag and slick your hair back into a super-high pony, or by using a black velvet head band. Check out our awesome article on styling scrunchies.
In the autumn/winter season, swap your mini skirt for baggy denims by rocking a patterned oversized shirt tucked into Levi’s balloon jeans. Check out our jeans guide for more info.
Throw on a leather belt to cinch the waist, heeled ankle booties, and you’re ready to go! Perfect for 90’s glam when you’re caught in a hurry.
Dress it Down
One girl who knows how to style a flawlessly casual look is Claudia Kishi, played by Momona Tamada in “The Baby-Sitters Club”. This show has recently been brought back to the big screen after its popularity in 1995, and it’s safe to say it gives us all the nostalgic feels!
Claudia can be seen in an array of retro bomber jackets, styled with dresses, dungarees and boiler-suit jumpsuits.
Channel your inner Claudia Kishi by playing with different patterns, colours and fabrics underneath your outerwear. Don’t be afraid to accessorize either – Claudia can be seen rocking oversized flower rings, beaded necklaces and chunky scrunchies to give every look that finishing touch.
Finally, for footwear, opt for vibrant platform boots such as the Doc Marten’s leather holographic collection.
Athleisure for the Ladies
Satin bomber jackets in particular are soft and silky to the touch, adding a luxurious feel to an otherwise utilitarian garment. Satin fabrics are also made of synthetic fibers which is great because they are easily washable, they conserve body heat, and odors don’t stick to them, which makes them the absolute perfect option for after-exercise jackets!
A quilted bomber jacket is another favorite option of mine, this one could potentially be a puffer depending on the filling too. That would be amazing because of the extra warmth but really, the quilting texture here is the real cherry on the cake. It is not every day that one finds that level of craftsmanship, but any type of texture is a plus in my book. So, if you come across a fabric or nylon number that has any texture, go for it. You won’t regret it.
If you are into slightly techy or badass babe vibes, go for green or camo cargos with neon-colored t-shirts. Extra points for combining them with the piping on your accessories, be it your crossbody bag or your low tops.
You might even find a bomber jacket with elastic cuffs that matches your t-shirt, swap your sneaker laces or add matching bracelets. Any of those would look dope!
A long bomber jacket with an opaque finish will add a level of sophistication to any day-to-day outfit, taking it to the next level. Accessorize your good old white t-shirt and jeans with Vans or Chucks for extra street cred, go for ripped jeans either wide or bootcut for an added 90s retro feel, and keep your handbag small or opt for a backpack.
The same can be said of leather or simil-leather finishes. An all-black ensemble looks extra crisp and particularly easy to pull off as an office to after-hours good-to-go option. Particularly for those days that feel like you just do not want to get into the “what will I wear” debacle, this is a safe and trustworthy choice that will make you feel like a hundred bucks and ready for anything!
As you now know, the bomber jacket is not only a design acquired by fast-fashion retailers, but it is a historic artefact passed down from generation to generation. Help to keep the tradition alive by incorporating it into your wardrobe today.
What’s your memories of wearing a bomber jacket? Be sure to let us know in the comment section below – we love hearing from you!