What are the Different Types of Retro Jackets?

Susan Grindstaff

There are many different types of retro jackets, ranging from the 1940s peplum styles all the way through the hippie era of fringed suede jackets and vests. During the 1950s, women’s jackets were usually short and fitted, while men often sported motorcycle jackets done in shiny black leather. During the 1970s, the navy pea jacket regained popularity as casual wear, while the disco influence saw jackets for nightwear tending toward satin and sequins.

Retro fashion includes tight fitting jeans and leather motorcycle jackets.
Retro fashion includes tight fitting jeans and leather motorcycle jackets.

Retro jackets for women that date back to the 1940s were usually fitted through the bust and sleeves, and often flared or slightly gathered below the waistline. This era pre-dates most synthetic fabrics, so jackets were often made using wool. Summer weight jackets from this era were usually done in linen or cotton. Some jackets were done with fur collars, such as fox or mink, and it was during this era that women began wearing fox collars with the head of the fox still intact. Men often wore jackets that were short and fitted, a style made popular by Dwight Eisenhower, a World War II general who later became president of the United States.

Bomber jackets were introduced in the 1920s, and remain popular today.
Bomber jackets were introduced in the 1920s, and remain popular today.

During the 1950s, women’s jackets were usually shorter and often embellished. Wide lapels were usually trimmed with French guimp or embroidery. It was during this era that the famed designer Coco Chanel first rose to prominence. Her designs featured tailored women’s suits with simple lines that featured color coordinating trim work. Typically, retro jackets for men that come from the 1950s include motorcycle jackets and short zipper front designs.

Some of the most popular retro jackets date from the 1960s. One of the more popular styles for men is a design called the Nehru jacket. These jackets were often made of silks or brocades, and featured a circular stand up collar with a square opening in the front. These jackets were inspired by Eastern Indian wear and became a part of the early 1960s pop culture. Vintage jackets for women that date from this era include faux fur coats and jackets featuring windowpane checks.

One of the most distinctive retro jackets from the hippie era are suede jackets with long hanging fringe. These jackets were of varying lengths, but most often ended at the waist or hips. These jackets were popular with both men and women and were usually worn with faded jeans of calico skirts. Other hippie style retro jackets include loose shawl like jackets done in velvet or tapestry fabrics.

Men often wore jackets that were short and fitted, a style made popular by Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States.
Men often wore jackets that were short and fitted, a style made popular by Dwight Eisenhower, President of the United States.

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Discussion Comments


@shell4life – Those fringed jackets are cool. I bought one to wear as part of my Halloween costume, but I liked it so much that I ended up making it my regular jacket.

I found one that is a very light khaki color in a thrift store. I only paid twenty bucks for it! It is so warm, and it is slightly longer than a lot of jackets around today.

It has a giant peace sign branded into the leather on the back. Everything about this jacket screams, “I'm from the sixties!”

If you can find a retro jacket like this in good condition, then it will make a wonderful winter coat. I think that jackets back then were of a higher quality, and they were designed with warmth in mind.


My dad has always been into motorcycles. He grew up in the forties and fifties, and he has kept his motorcycle jacket that he bought when he was twenty.

It is made of black leather, and it has several buckles and straps across it. It even has some zippered pockets. The thick leather provides insulation that keeps him warm while he rides.

He has gone through several different motorcycles in his life, but he still has the same jacket. I'm amazed that it has lasted all these years. I'm sure that even if it ever gets ripped or damaged somehow, he will keep it.


I don't condone killing animals for their fur, but I do like faux fur coats. However, I didn't want anyone to mistake my faux fur jacket for the real thing, so I bought a purple one. I figured that would make it obvious.

I found the jacket in an antique store. The dealer told me that it was from the disco era, and the person who had brought it in used to sing in a disco band. I thought its authenticity made it cool.

The jacket is super warm. The faux fur is somewhat silky, and it feels cozy against my skin. The bright purple color makes it interesting and fashionable.


My neighbor used to be a hippie. He was in a band for much of the sixties and seventies, and they all had those fringe suede jackets.

They were really durable, because he still has his today, and it doesn't have any holes or tears in it. Though the rest of his clothes are more modern, he still wears that retro jacket everywhere.

It is a light brown color, and the material is so soft. The long fringe hangs down about five inches below the base of the jacket, which comes to his hips.

He still has his long hair, which looks fitting with this style of jacket. I think that it's cool to see a sixty-five-year-old man with long, gray hair walking around in a jacket from his time.


I knit, and I've seen a resurgence in vintage patterns over the last couple of years. A lot of companies have digitized old copies of their magazines. So, you can knit yourself a sweater from a pattern from the 1950s, or whatever era floats your boat.

There are a few problems with this though: for one thing, Americans are generally larger now than they were in the 50s. So, most older patterns come in smaller sizes.

Luckily, I've also seen some vintage-inspired retro jacket patterns that are available in a range of sizes.


@Azuza - Yes, wearing a whole dead fox as a collar does sound pretty disgusting. I don't see that style coming back though, thankfully.

Anyway, I think retro jackets are fun. However, they're even more fun if you can get a jacket that was made in the actual time period instead of a recreation. I've seen a few retro leather jackets at thrift stores, so I think that would be a good place to start.

Also, ask your parents! I think most people would be amazed at the things their parents have lying around the house!

I have a really neat jacket my mom got in the 70s when she and my dad lived in Okinawa. I've never seen anything like it in stores, although I'm sure a seamstress could easily recreate it. However, the fact that it's from the 70s makes it more fun, I think!


I think retro stuff is cool, especially retro winter jackets. However, I have to say that I hope fox collars with the head intact never experience a resurgence in popularity.

I think wearing fur is pretty much abominable and unnecessary. But wearing the whole animal, head and all? I think that just takes it to a whole new level. I just don't understand why anyone would think that was cool or fashionable!

I also imagine PETA would probably have a field day with something like that!

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