Best Men's Shirt Colors for a Brown Leather Jacket

Melissa B. Manuel, Ph.D.
Contributor: Crystal Schwanke
Young man outdoors wearing leather jacket

A brown leather jacket, by its very nature, can be the epitome of casual cool. It can also be dressed up to look distinctive and professional. Deciding which colors to wear with your jacket can be somewhat of a chore considering the myriad of fashion choices that are available. However, your choice can be made with confidence by keeping a few key factors in mind.

Great Shirt Colors for Brown

Brown leather jackets pair well with more shirt colors than you might expect. Some colors worth considering include:

Neutrals Like White, Black, and Gray

Traditionally, these colors have been staples worn in just about any garment combination, and they look fantastic against the background of a brown leather jacket. They are subtle enough to be casual, yet chic enough to be dressed up for a professional look. This is one of the most versatile ways to pair your brown leather jacket with a shirt that complements it well. Not only are neutrals incredibly easy to match up, but your style can be anywhere from rustic and maybe a little dangerous (bomber jacket with t-shirt) to sophisticated (tailored-fit jacket with sweater or button-up).

One tip: Only wear black shirts with tan or camel jackets, not deep browns. Pairing black with dark brown can be risky from a fashion standpoint and could clash. The contrast between the lighter brown jacket and dark shirt will look great though.

man wearing brown leather jacket

Warm Reds, Wine, Burgundy and Rust

Shirts in these colors will work handsomely against the backdrop of the jacket. The earth tones of the jacket blend effortlessly with these colors to create an amiable palette. These shades lend themselves well to the rugged look. Add more contrast and emphasize that rugged vibe with blue jeans and brown boots. This combo is perfect for outdoor events, dates, and casual outings.

man in dark brown leather jacket

Cool Greens, Sapphire, and Violet Purple

Past stereotypes regarding which colors can or cannot be worn by any particular gender have long been debunked. These cool colors, like emerald green, forest green, deep blue, and rich purple will look great under brown leather, especially with darker shades of brown. Wear one of these colors with your leather bomber, blazer, or any other jacket style when you want to stand out but still look approachable (perhaps a first or second date or a networking event).

man wearing leather jacket

Pastels Like Light Blue and Coral

These pastel shirt colors would be great choices for a lighter shade of brown. These shades work well for a casual look, no matter what style of jacket you're wearing. Denim or khakis pair well on the bottom for an overall laid-back look. Lazy weekends when you still want to look good call for this type of pairing.

Young man wearing leather jacket

Prints Like Stripes and Plaids

A shirt with thin, dark-colored vertical stripes would be the best choice to pair with brown leather because it would add nice contrast, but stay away from horizontal stripes. Pairing a plaid shirt with a brown leather jacket is also a good choice, and a darker-colored plaid shirt, i.e. red with green plaid stripes, would look even more attractive.

These are another versatile option. You can wear stripes and plaids with any kind of brown leather jacket, but in general, keep the stripes to the more tailored jacket styles and the plaid to bombers and other casual jacket cuts.

musician wearing leather jacket

What About Brown?

While brown is not on the list of recommended colors, it is possible to pair a brown shirt with a brown leather jacket. However, you'll want to choose shades that are much lighter or darker than the shade of your jacket. This will provide a stronger contrast and save you from looking washed out. Monochromatic looks are stylish but don't call for a lot of attention when you walk into a room the way brighter shirt colors might. These are great for work, errands, and casual outings.

Color Selection Considerations

When shopping for shirts to wear with your brown leather jacket, consider the jacket's shade and your skin tone. This is not an exact science, but it seems to yield consistently good results.

  • If the jacket is a lighter tint of brown with a tanned or russet-colored finish, choose lighter shirt colors. Shirts in more vibrant hues look stunning paired with darker leather jackets.
  • If you have a lighter skin tone, opt for medium to dark-colored shirts that provide optimal color contrast with your skin and highlight your skin tone rather than create a washed out appearance.
  • If you have an olive or darker skin tone, choose medium to light-colored shirts to highlight the warm undertones in your skin and create optimal contrast.

Shopping Tips

It won't be difficult to choose shirts to go with your jacket if you keep a few tips in mind.

  • Style: The traditional button-down shirt, a turtleneck or mock turtleneck, or even a polo-style shirt are all options to be worn with a brown leather jacket. Remember that a button-down style typically represents a more clean-cut, professional aesthetic, while the polo style creates a more casual appearance. Either of the turtleneck options can be dressed up or down, depending on the style of the jacket.
  • Cost: Reasonable shirt prices can range from the low teens to the low hundreds, depending on the retail outlet and the quality of the shirt.
  • Quality: Quality is typically determined by fabric type, the quality and finishes of the seams, and the quality of the sundries, such as buttons, zippers, etc. Stay away from shirts with fabric defects, unraveling seams, loose buttons, and sticky zippers or snaps.
  • Fit: Shirts worn with this jacket should fit close to your true body size without being too tight or too loose. Shirts that are too tight underneath the jacket may give the impression that the jacket is being used for a cover-up. On the other hand, shirts that fit too loosely will distract focus from the distinct lines of the leather jacket.

Buy a Jacket

If you don't have a brown leather jacket yet, consider these:

  • The Westhaven Distressed Leather Bomber Jacket, a relaxed, fairly versatile option that most men look great in, and it's available in sizes Small through XX-Large. This one is just under $800.00 at Nordstrom and is made from distressed Italian leather. The sleeves have hidden-snap cuffs and there are plenty of pockets (one interior). Enjoy dressing this one up or down.
  • The Perfecto Slim Fit Waxy Leather Moto Jacket is similar to the bomber, but it's lighter in color and has more of an edge, thanks to the asymmetrical zip closure, angled zip pockets, and additional hardware. If you like your clothing to have a few extra details, this may be the one for you. Get it in X-Small to XX-Large for just under $900.00 at Nordstrom.
  • The BlingSoul Distressed Brown Lambskin Jacket is available at Amazon for less than $200.00, and it's available in sizes X-Small to XXX-Large. It's longer in length and has a classic style you can dress up or down with ease. Wear it with jeans or khakis.
  • The Polo Ralph Lauren Men's Café Racer Leather Jacket is made from full-grain lambskin in a lighter shade of brown, and it's in a style that can take you almost anywhere. Inspired by motorcycle jacket styles, this option straddles the line between rugged and classic. It's available at Macy's in Small through XX-Large for around $650.00. Zippers at the pockets and cuffs give it additional, but subtle, visual interest.

Time to Hit the Store

The best way to figure out which colors work best with your skin tone and your jacket is to head to a store and start trying on different combinations. Don't hesitate to ask a clerk or another customer for his or her opinion and don't be afraid to try colors that you haven't considered before. With so many attractive colors to choose from, you may want to explore some of those other color avenues before you reach for your staples. Armed with these tips and advice, you'll be able to choose crisp shades and rich hues that will look great on you!

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Best Men's Shirt Colors for a Brown Leather Jacket