How to Wear a Bomber Jacket: The Essential Guide for Men

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by  David Martin | Last Updated: 

I resisted getting a bomber jacket for a long time.

I’m pragmatic when it comes to fashion, and it always seemed to me that bombers were swallowed up in the larger, more generic jacket categories and therefore unnecessary. 

For example, why wear a bomber when I could wear a Harrington jacket, a Peacoat, or a puffer? 

While this line of reasoning isn’t exactly wrong, it’s missing the point and, frankly, limiting my style potential. My wife likes to make fun of me for frequently quipping that I want to change my style but never actually take the steps to do it, and I blame my pragmatic fashion mindset.

A bomber jacket, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, will keep you warm, just like your puffer or that $15 ambiguous jacket you got off the rack at Walmart. 

If warmth was the only reason to wear a bomber, then it would be redundant among our other jacket options. But it’s the style and attitude of bomber jackets that has kept guys coming back to this classic jacket for so long, and will continue to.

So, since bombers are here for the long haul, we might as well learn how to properly wear them. 

In this article I’ll cover four rules of thumb for how to wear bomber jackets and give you a host of outfit examples so you can style them with confidence.

How to Style a Bomber Jacket: 4 Rules to Follow

model leaning on brick doorway wearing paige jeans and bomber jacket
  1. Wear your bomber jacket with pants, not shorts. Even when it comes to athletic bombers and you’re heading to the gym, find another jacket or wear a hoodie.
  2. Match the formality of your bomber to the rest of your outfit. Going to the hot new restaurant in town? Ditch the nylon bomber and stick to suede or leather.
  3. Wear one that makes you feel confident. If you’re not sure about it, don’t wear it.
  4. Layer your bomber appropriately. Most bombers can only handle one or two layers underneath without you looking like Randy from A Christmas Story. I recommend two layers under a bomber at most, with one of those layers being a t-shirt.

Ways to Wear a Bomber Jacket

From a purely numeric standpoint, there are more ways to wear a bomber jacket than there are bad Christmas Hallmark movies, which is saying a lot. 

For the purposes of this article, we’ll break down the top four, which will give you a good starting point to wear these jackets with confidence.

Athletic

Public Rec Black Better than Down Bomber Jacket with White Henley
Rocking the Public Rec Better Than Down Bomber

When you think of an athletic outfit you’re probably picturing gym shorts of some sort with an athletic top, which doesn’t seem like the place you’d wear a bomber jacket. And you’d be right—don’t wear a bomber jacket with shorts.

So, if gym shorts are out, that leaves joggers and sweatpants to pair with bomber jackets.

I recommend pairing joggers with a casual bomber jacket and leaving the sweats at home. Also, the fabric of your bomber jacket should be casual to match the casual tone of your outfit.

A jacket like Public Rec’s Crosstown Bomber is perfect here. This bomber is made with a blend of nylon and spandex that’s light, flexible, and casual enough to wear with joggers and athletic sneakers.

Best Athletic Bomber
Public Rec Crosstown Bomber

A tech-focused version of a classic jacket. Public Rec keeps the design simple, the lines clean, and the look fresh with their Crosstown Bomber.

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If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Most athletic outfits with bomber jackets will fall into the athleisure category, but paired with the right pair of joggers and white sneakers, this combo can also be smart casual. 

A pair of joggers like Public Rec’s All Day Every Day Jogger (which look like a pair of chinos) go well with white leather sneakers. A clean tee and a casual bomber are all that’s needed to complete this fit.

Street

Street style is an ambiguous fashion category and mostly comes down to personal self expression, which makes this a great place to bust out your colorful and edgy bomber jackets. 

Burgundy, orange, yellow, and oversized bombers are all fair play here, and it comes down to your personal style to decide how you pair them. That said, it’s also appropriate to bring out your olive and black bombers here, too. 

I’d stick to the common nylon fabrics here, but leather bombers can also work. 

When I run errands, I find myself reaching for a black or olive bomber, a clean white tee, some cropped or cuffed slim jeans, and white sneakers. It’s casual, comfortable, and you won’t look like a slob.

In the colder months, I’m a sucker for pairing bombers with hoodies. The comfort and versatility of this outfit is hard to beat. 

A little chillier than you expected? Zip your bomber up and put the hood up. 

Your date just got cold? Offer them your bomber jacket.

When it comes to street style it’s best to pair jeans and sneakers with your bomber and keep the whole outfit feeling casual. 

There are some cases when chinos, leather boots, and a bomber could fit in the street style category, but most of those more formal elements are better saved for more minimal outfits.

Minimalist

Minimalist styles are great for flexing a nice pair of leather boots, some clean chinos or slacks, a button down, and a tidy bomber with a more premium fabric, like suede. 

These outfits are meant to look neat and simple and are great for smart casual, casual, and even some business casual environments. 

If you’re planning to wear a good pair of leather dress boots, khakis, and your favorite button down but don’t want people to assume you work in finance, pair this outfit with a suede bomber for some extra edginess. 

In the colder months you can swap out the suede bomber for something with more heft, like Public Rec’s Better Than Down Bomber.

Best Minimalist Bomber
Public Rec Better Than Down Bomber

Made with water-repellant Thinsulate, which is proven to beat down as an insulator in study after study. What do you get when you mix science and style? Pure dopeness.

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This jacket keeps the sleek profile of a bomber jacket, but stuffs it with 3M Featherless Insulation to keep you toasty without being puffy.

Retro

The bomber has its origins in World War I, where fighter pilots needed a jacket that would keep them warm while flying in the uninsulated, open air cockpits.

These jackets were actually developed by the US Army Aviation Clothing Board, and were so popular that the style became a staple of mainstream fashion.

When it comes to retro styles and bomber jackets, I’m talking about the jackets that stay true to the original form of the bomber. Take the image below, for example:

The heavy leather, faux fur collar, and ribbed waist and wristbands went a long way in keeping pilots warm, and also went a long way in establishing a classic style. 

Whether it’s a vintage bomber or modern interpretation of the retro style, these jackets are statement pieces and best worn with simple, understated pieces to complete the outfit. 

Since these jackets are often leather, they’re slightly more formal than the standard, nylon pieces you see today. Because of this, you can pair retro bombers with slacks, dress shoes or dress sneakers, sweaters, button-downs, and turtlenecks. 

Want to turn some heads? Wear a slim pair of black or dark gray trousers, a thin turtleneck, black Chelsea boots, and finish the outfit with your retro bomber. 

It’s sophisticated, simple, comfortable, and timeless.

6 Stylish Bomber Jacket Outfits

Bomber Jacket With T-Shirt

This is my favorite way to wear a bomber jacket, largely because it’s so easy. Starting with a quality tee, layer on a nylon bomber and finish the outfit with a pair of slim jeans or cargos, as shown below.

It’s simple, it’s functional, and looks better than just wearing the tee or a hoodie.

You can also add in colorful bombers here, like this red bomber with a black tee and jeans:

Since you’re pairing a bomber with a t-shirt, these outfits are more casual by definition and I recommend wearing jeans, cargos, or chinos. 

Bomber Jacket With Jeans

As you’ve probably gathered by now, bomber jackets go great with jeans. We’ve already seen a few outfits with blue jeans, a nylon bomber, and t-shirt, so here’s an edgier interpretation featuring a leather bomber instead:

All-black outfits never go out of style, and this is great for grabbing drinks with friends and casual first dates.

For a more relaxed outfit in the colder months, pair your jeans with a comfortable hoodie and finish the outfit with your bomber jacket. It’s that simple, and it’s super comfortable.

Bomber Jacket With Joggers

Speaking of comfortable, there are few things as comfortable as wearing a bomber jacket with joggers. This is a great outfit for running quick errands or hanging with friends to watch the game, but is very casual since you’re wearing joggers.

Public Rec’s Crosstown Bomber is perfect for pairing with joggers due to its nylon and spandex construction, which gives it a sporty feel. 

If you’re not sure where to get a quality pair of joggers to make this outfit work, Public Rec’s All Day Every Day Joggers are an easy choice. These look more like cuffed chinos than joggers, but sacrifice none of the comfort. 

Bombers also work well with joggers that lean more towards the sweatpant end of the spectrum. I like to pair these with athletic sneakers, a plain white tee, and a black or navy bomber.

Bomber Jacket With Sneakers

We’ve talked a lot about bomber jacket outfits with white leather shoes and athletic shoes, but what about sneakers?

The world of sneakers is vast and therefore there are a multitude of ways to dress sneakers with bomber jackets, but one of my favorite interpretations is shown below:

This captures an effortless street style look with refined swagger, and will keep your comfortable and warm for days on end.

For a more formal look, swap out the jeans for chinos, the sneakers for dress sneakers, and upgrade the nylon bomber to a suede bomber.

This outfit is just as comfortable as the street style example, but works in more formal scenarios where you want to look put together. Suede bombers are a perfect balance of sleek, edgy style and lend sophistication to otherwise plain outfits.

How to Style a Black Bomber Jacket

In a similar vein, leather bomber jackets are great for bringing a sophisticated, edgy vibe to your outfit. 

For a more formal example of how to style a black bomber jacket, put a black leather bomber over a white button down, and finish the outfit with some white chinos. 

Keep the shirt untucked for a more casual outing, or tuck it in for a more sleek look.

On the more casual side of styling a black bomber jacket, you can’t go wrong with a black nylon bomber, a crisp white tee, and black jeans or chinos. It’s hard to get a simpler outfit, and this ensemble packs some serious style.

How to Style a Green Bomber Jacket

Green bomber jackets—specifically olive tones—are easily some of the most popular bombers on the market. 

When trying to style a green bomber jacket for a casual situation, I’m a big fan of Public Rec’s Crosstown Bomber.

Our Favorite Green Bomber
Public Rec Crosstown Bomber

A tech-focused version of a classic jacket. Public Rec keeps the design simple, the lines clean, and the look fresh with their Crosstown Bomber.

Check Best Price
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The nylon and spandex construction makes for a stretchy and breathable fit that still offers ample warmth when necessary. 

Pair this bomber with a neutral colored t-shirt, dark jeans, and white leather sneakers, or swap out the jeans for a tidy pair of joggers.

Since olive is a less formal color than black, outfits styled with a green bomber jacket will be more casual by default. 

Another outfit example is an olive bomber, gray tee, and light blue jeans, and I wouldn’t recommend steering too far from this template. For styling a more formal outfit with a bomber jacket, stick to black bombers.

How Should a Bomber Jacket Fit?

Man in black bomber jacket

Fit often comes down to personal preference, especially in a fashion climate where oversized clothing is popular. 

Barring oversized options, however, your bomber should fit close to the body and the sleeves should come down just past your wrist bone. The waistband should fall at your waistband, or slightly past the top of your pants.

model wearing paige bomber jacket and cargo pants

Chunkier bomber jackets, like the retro leather bombers from WWI, will have a heftier profile but will still evenly fit across the body and come down to your waistband and just past your wrist bones. 

You don’t want the sleeves to be bunched up through your arms or falling even with the top of your pants inseam, as this will ruin the sleek, classic profile that bombers are known for.

Bomb On

Now that you have basic rules for how to style bomber jackets and a host of examples, you can start adding these classic jackets to your outfit repertoire.

Don’t be afraid to get multiple bombers that are more formal, retro, or athletic—there’s a use case for every one that can turn a plain outfit into something more edgy and sophisticated.

Public Rec Crosstown Bomber

A tech-focused version of a classic jacket. Public Rec keeps the design simple, the lines clean, and the look fresh with their Crosstown Bomber.

Check Best Price
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you know someone who’s a serial wearer of bomber jackets with shorts, or someone who could benefit from mixing some bombers into their wardrobe, do them a favor and share this article!

They’ll thank you later.

FAQs

Are bomber jackets in style in 2023?

Bomber jackets are in style in 2022 and will be in early 2023 as well.

How is a bomber jacket supposed to fit?

A bomber jacket should fit close to the body, with the waistband falling at the top of your pants, and the cuffs coming down to just past your wrist bones.

Do bomber jackets go with everything?

Bomber jackets go with nearly every casual outfit, besides those with shorts. Bomber jackets are great for smart casual and some dressy casual outfits, but shouldn’t be worn in formal scenarios.

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