Bomber and crew neck T-shirt – the classic look
The ultimate in casual chic with the bomber jacket is simply to throw it on over a T-shirt, with a pair of jeans and trainers or boots. It's the look that will never die because the length of the bomber simply complements jeans perfectly to create a flattering silhouette. It works with a fabric or leather bomber jacket, and there are really no rules about the colours of any part of the outfit. Black leather works with any colour of T-shirt or with a printed tee. It can even look great with a black tee and black jeans, a kind of urban biker look. A coloured bomber, such as one in navy or maroon, goes well with a white T-shirt and blue jeans for that James Dean look that you'll never openly admit to wanting to emulate (but really do).
Bomber jacket and hoodie – an urban combo
You might have noticed one thing that the classic bomber jacket doesn't have, and that's a pronounced collar. That's one way that it diverges from the utilitarian flight jacket, which usually had a very noticeable borg collar, designed to be lifted over the neck. There might be a subtle raised neck or some stylistic detailing around the top, but a street style bomber shouldn't have a jacket collar.
That brings in the second style possibility: wearing it over a hoodie. Again, there are no colour rules here, as long as they vaguely complement each other. The main pointer is that the hood is worn loose outside the jacket (whether or not it ever goes over your head), and the sleeves of the hoodie should never extend beyond the cuffs of the jacket – that can look odd. Zipped up or open, the look is distinctly street, so you're going for a smart, clued-up vibe in your casual look. Mix it with narrow jeans or chinos and some good quality boots or your favourite sneakers to get the casual tone just right. A word of warning for this outfit – choose a lightweight hoodie. Some of them are designed to wear as outer garments and can be a pretty hefty weave that just won't work under a modern bomber jacket.
All zipped up
A smart way to wear your bomber jacket is simply to have it zipped up. Sounds pretty straightforward, but it's actually something of a stand-out look for a casual jacket. It takes advantage of the narrow form of the bomber, so you keep a slick silhouette, especially with narrow jeans and boots, or perhaps some dark chinos with chunky shoes. Because bomber jackets are generally lightweight, you won't overheat, and it doesn't matter what top you're wearing underneath. In fact, it's perfect for wearing a shirt if you're off to the bar after work or wrapping up for the spring commute.
Polo shirt and bomber – mod it up
The mod look only ever fades in and out – it never fully disappears from fashion. It arrived in the 60s, re-emerged in the early 80s, and came back in the late 90s, so you could say it's slightly overdue on its 15–20 year cycle. You can get ahead of the game, though, and all you need is your smartest bomber and a basic polo shirt. You don't need Italian designer shoes this time around either. Comfy sneakers and light pants work with a dark bomber or go for a trad green bomber with a natural white polo shirt and blue jeans. It's a stylish way to dress informally – a 21st century take on a timeless pre-millennium look.
In nylon, cotton, leather or even suede, the bomber jacket has come a long way since it kept fighter pilots fighting fit at high altitudes. Pretty much all the subcultures that have sprung up in the free world after 1945 have adopted and adapted it to make it their own. It's a tradition that continues today, with the current crop comfortably cutting it on the street and, as we've seen, going with almost anything. It's a must-have casual jacket for modern times, whether you identify with a certain style or just want a complete outdoor outfit for looking your best. Keep your jacket light and your cuffs tight – the flight jacket is back.