Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Mighty Moto

What's up y'all?  Hey, can you believe that its 2015 already?  Where did 2014 year go? The thing about time feeling faster as you get older is so true. This is part of why I've been neglecting this little blog of mine, life is happening and I should probably pay attention. Anyway.

I think this is just resting bitch face.

 I want to share a recent obsession, the motorcycle jacket. I've always loved them but was never able to own one because they were either too expensive or the cheap fashion ones made for models. Models whose thighs are smaller than my biceps because this viking grew up doing heavy labor (rowing, archery, wood chopping, tilling; these things make for lots of upper body mass). So getting my arms into one was basically a NOPE.

DEFINITELY INTENTIONAL. Rock that bitch face.

Right now motorcycle jackets seem to be everywhere on women, particularly in television. I think it has to do with the uptick in female heroes in the DC and Marvel adaptations to the serial screen. As a geek and a feminist this makes my heart happy, but as someone who loves history it also makes me curious. Like many of the articles of clothing eventually labelled as classic, it had its origins in the military.  I decided to do a wee bit of digging to find out more about its origins.

As it turns out the moto is an evolution of the bomber jackets used during WWI.  Originally they were brown horse or cow hide which had a thickness that helped protect the wearer from the elements.  Here's an excerpt from a great BBC article.

 In 1928, Irving Schott, co-founder of the New York City-based outerwear company the Schott Bros, designed and produced the first leather motorcycle jacket with a zipper. He named it the Perfecto, after his favourite cigar. A shield against the elements (replacing the less efficient button-down motorcycle jackets of the time), this important new silver feature, with its asymmetric positioning, also allowed motorcyclists to lean over their bikes without cutting into the body. The original jacket featured a cropped, snug fit, with a D-pocket and lapels designed to snap down or fold over each other and zip all the way up

FINALLY!  That asymmetrical zipper is explained!  I'd been wondering for years the point knowing it had to root in functionality.  Not getting poked and chaffed by a zipper is definitely a plus for me.

Surprise face.
 Of course, when fashion appropriates things they like to add a bit of pretty or fluff. On the runway there are motos in every color for Spring and even pre-Fall (prefall? Like why do we need pre fall and resort? WHY?  Its dumb.). I love the one above that Felicity Smoak is wearing from Arrow. As a matter of fact, all the Arrow ladies rock them at one time or another. This floral moto shows up in another super hero show but I forget which one.

"You should see the other guy" bitchface
I should point out that Marlon Brando made the moto jacket in black a popular element among the young and rebellious crowd with the movie "The Wild One" and the James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause".  I don't think this association will ever go away, either.  And while right now its "anything but black" among the fashion crowd, having a black one in your closet will be a classic, always.

I have two of them planned for in non-black to take me through the year. The way our weather has been lately I only need a really warm coat a couple months.  Sort of related I've been craving jackets and blazers to help mix and match outfits for work. I think the non-leather jackets well certainly help with that, especially on days I need to bring the bitchface.  Leather biker jackets certainly help set the mood.

For a bit more history reading, Fit NYC has an article here,  and another somewhat less reliable source here.


  1. I've got moto jackets on my mind too! I won a gorgeous burgundy leather hide that's just itching to be made into a jacket, so I went on Pinterest for inspiration and found that every single jacket I liked was a moto jacket. So there's a red leather moto jacket somwhere in my future!

  2. OK, I LOVE this---I love motorcycle jackets and fantasize about making one often. (I have a perfectly good, very functional and fancy RTW motorcycle jacket, but it doesn't have the classic styling with the off-set zipper, although the reflective embroidered skulls somewhat make up for it). I haven't found a really great pattern for them, though---I have a Simplicity Suede Says that may have the right lines but I'm not totally sold. Any thoughts? :D

    1. I'm planning on using the Kwik Sew pattern and drafting my own lining. It seems to be the best starting point for a classic look, not to mention the best instructions I've seen.

  3. I've always wondered about the asymmetrical zip! Also Emma on Once Upon a Time has an absurd collection of motorcycle jackets which makes no sense in the tiny little town it takes place in.

  4. Well, this clears up a question for me. Good posting daughter.

  5. I have always adored military inspired fashion, and now this new information helps explain why I also adore the moto - thanks for the clarification! :) I had a classic leather biker jacket in HS but I really love the new, proper fitted ones for women - much better than large and boxy! :) I have wanted to make one for quite a while now, but I'm sure by the time I get around to actually doing it, it will be very out of style for the fashion world! LOL I don't mind though; for me, there's nothing cooler than an awesome jacket that explains my natural resting bitch face haha!! :) I look forward to following your moto adventures! :)