This guidance by designers and brands may seem off the mark to some, yet a military-inspired bomber jacket is slowly gaining ground as part of men’s formal dressing.
But can you really wear this heavy-duty outerwear—with ribbed cuffs and hem, a front-zippered closure, a shaped neckline, and with or without a hood—to a contemporary office? “Yes, you can,” says New Delhi-based Narresh Kukreja of designer label Shivan & Narresh, who are known for their luxury swimwear and saris, and have recently launched a line of men’s clothing. Kukreja says: “A bomber jacket was invented to be part of military uniform (American air-combat wear). Then it went through phases—hipster to street. Now it has sneaked into corporate wear because of changing mindsets and open work environments.”
New Delhi-based designer Abhishek Paatni, whose newly launched menswear brand Nought One combines classic and street elements, agrees. Paatni says: “The bomber jacket was introduced in the 1940s during World War II. Later, Alexander McQueen got it into the high-fashion scene in the 1990s. Later, hip hop artistes wore them in the 2000s. Today, it is worn to offices.”
But there are a couple of pointers, says Kukreja, to keep in mind while flaunting a bomber jacket to work. “Fabric (or material) is the first thing. You might want to pair a tan, brown or grey leather or neoprene bomber on a Friday or Saturday (to work). But on a weekday, using subtle, suiting fabric without many patches or zippers is a good idea.” Kukreja advises you to wear the suiting material bomber with a shirt and tie, and the leather or neoprene one with a loose shirt or tee.
Harkirat Singh, managing director of Woodland Worldwide, an outdoor apparel and footwear brand, says choosing the appropriate material and colour is important. “You can do a black or brown suede, or calfskin leather (bomber jacket), at night and wear a lightweight bomber with a lining during the day, or even mid-season. Keep both subtle for work.” Woodland prices these styles at Rs7,000-20,000 per piece.
Paatni believes the brand you pick and the way you style it matters. He says: “My bomber is a street-wear version with zippered arms and back pockets, but you can wear it to office on a Friday or the weekend. Just keep it (your look) minimal. Wear it with narrow trousers or unwashed indigo denims, and a white or solid-coloured crew-neck or polo-neck tee.”
Paatni’s other style tips: Wear tapered or regular-fit trousers with a bomber jacket, for extremely slim or comfort fits may not look nice, experiment with a tone-on-tone look (blue or military green), and try a black bomber with khaki-coloured chinos.
Singh suggests styling any structured bomber with a formal shirt, trousers and formal shoes.
As far as shoes go, most experts pick suede loafers, leather trainers or lace-up boots as their preferred choices, besides dress shoes.
Then there are the trend-based variations in bomber jackets, besides the current hybrid of the historic A-2 and B-15 jacket styles that are doing the rounds. For example, the longline (longer than the usual length of the jacket), the oversized (voluminous) shape, and the use of velvet, futuristic or traditional (say, Ikat) material. Paatni, however, suggests you avoid sporting these to work unless you are confident of styling them simply and correctly.