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First Aero Jacket - Help!

Thnikkaman

New in Town
Messages
19
Hi all,
First thing's first, sorry about the wall of text.
But I have a story for you folks. I'll try to keep it brief.

My dad wore an Aero leather jacket through the nineties and early two thousands, and when I turned 16, he handed it down to me.
I loved it, you couldn't tear me out of that thing for years, even though it didn't really fit me perfectly and had seen decades of hard use.
A few weekends ago, I was in the process of moving, so I had packed up my car with almost everything that I owned, leather jacket included. To make a long story short, about twenty minutes down the road, I heard a loud thud, the cab filled with smoke, and it all went up in flames. By the time the fire department got there, it was just a smoldering heap, and my dad's old jacket (amongst many other things) was gone.

The point of the story is, thanks to insurance, I am now in a position to spend some real (to me) money and get a quality jacket to replace my dad's. It won't be the same, but at least it will replace it in spirit.
Here's the catch: I'm a tall, skinny young guy, and generally very difficult to correctly fit into clothes. I am usually forced to pick between too short in the sleeves, or a very baggy fit.
I have read up on previous posts on the forum, but am looking for some more specific help.

I'm super new to all of this business, so I have come to you experts "hat in hand", so to speak, asking for help.
I'm looking for:
-A 1930's half-belt style
-A ~mid-heavy weight leather, light enough for springs and autumns
-Dark brown color, or at least something that will eventually wear into a dark brown
-Appropriate sleeve length so I can ride my motorcycle without the cuffs coming up to my elbows (Speaking from experience here)
-Front and back length that drops appropriately low (top of jeans pockets)
-That I can wear with either just a t-shirt, a button up shirt, or at most a light hoodie underneath

As far as sizing goes, I wear a 36 slim suit jacket, in a brand that tends to run slim and long.
I had a buddy take some of my measurements:
5'10" tall
Chest 35.5" Relaxed
Chest just over 36" expanded
Stomach 28.75"
Waist 30.5"

So basically my questions boil down to these:
-Would the Aero Premier 1930s half belt suit a skinny guy who intends to layer lightly? Not looking for a trendy skin-tight fit, but I'm so skinny that I can get away with certain things. Also, it's worth considering that I might want to buy a tad big, because I'm bound to "fill-out" a tiny bit eventually.
-As far as leather choice goes, I'm completely overwhelmed. I'm looking for something mid-weight and general purpose, mostly because the daunting super heavy weight and cautionary tales of rigidity and decade long break-in periods. Is battered horsehide what I'm looking for? Maybe steerhide, or goatskin? Lay the pros and cons on me.
-Would mid-weight wool tartan lining make the jacket too warm for our spring/autumn months, and hold up to use?
-If you could only have one jacket, like me, what would you choose to be the most general-purpose and hold up to sustained use?

I appreciate any guidance you guys can give me,
Cheers,
-K
 

zebedee

One Too Many
Messages
1,604
Location
Shanghai
Get a Plainsman in mid-weight brown horsehide. It'll be the right length, ok in terms of weight and the brown is probably the best colour Are do (IMHO). A tartan won't make it too hot or cold. If I could have one Aero, it'd he a highwayman in brown FQHH, but that might be too short for what you're after.
 

dan_t

Practically Family
Messages
950
Location
Sydney, Australia
Also, keep in mind that whilst the 1930's half belt is a slimmer, slightly more fitted jacket, it does drop lower at the front. This may not work so well if you are intending to ride a bike in the jacket.
 

BobJ

Practically Family
Messages
610
Location
Coos Bay, OR
Hey Thnikkaman, welcome to the forum. I'm not one of the experts here, but, like you, I only have one leather jacket, and it is a 30s halfbelt in mid-weight, seal brown jerky horsehide. I love it and wear it all the time. The mid-weight jerky horsehide is closer in weight to the true vintage jackets. It may not have as much character (to look at) as some of the heavier leathers, but it is comfortable, breathable, and has a smooth, silky suppleness, and feels good to touch. It is dyed with a pigmented topcoat, so, with wear, you start seeing lighter brown showing through on the high points, like seams, cuffs, zipper edges, hem, and any areas that get repetitive wear - like from a seat belt. After a few years, it looks like a jacket with a history.

However, if I rode a motorcycle, I would want zippered sleeves, zippered pockets, a wind flap, and maybe a different type of collar.

For just walking around though, the 30s halfbelt with deep handwarmer pockets is hard to beat!

Thanks for sharing your personal story. I'm sorry you lost your Dad's jacket, but wherever he is, I bet he's glad you're going to be able to get one that fits the unique you, like his fit him. I'm already curious to see what it ends up being!

Good luck,

Bob
 

jacketjunkie

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,112
Location
Germany
Welcome to our community!

If you want to ride in that jacket, I would say you consider a Board Racer instead of a Half-Belt. It's one of Aeros slimmest pattern, has high armholes suited for reaching forward and you can order it with plenty of cosmetic changes, such as different collar, pockets or backpanels.

Midweight wool should be good for three seasons in most global climates.

Leatherwise, Aero offers some pretty midweight goatskin, which will last forever and age very slowly and a number of other midweight horsehide which all age quicker and develope more patina. Their Vicenca HH also isn't too heavy, you shouldnt rule it out just because it's listed with their heavyweiggts.


Measurementwise, sleeve length and such, Aero adjusts accordingly to your body and wishes, so it might be best to measure up a jacket you own and whose lengths you are happy with.
 
Messages
15,407
Welcome, Thnikkaman. As I began reading your story, I was so looking forward to asking you to post a few photos of a genuinely worn Aero, but then I got to the losing everything in a fire part... Sorry to hear that happening, man.

Well, here's what I can tell you...

-As far as leather choice goes, I'm completely overwhelmed. I'm looking for something mid-weight and general purpose, mostly because the daunting super heavy weight and cautionary tales of rigidity and decade long break-in periods. Is battered horsehide what I'm looking for? Maybe steerhide, or goatskin? Lay the pros and cons on me.

I personally am of the opinion that the legends of FQHH rigidity and long break-in periods have been somewhat exaggerated. Found all my FQHH jackets wearable straight out of the box and it didn't take me more than a few day to get them about as comfortable as a jacket can get. This hide gets much softer and pliable in a few minutes you're wearing the jacket, once it warms up to your body heat. Especially so on a warm day. My HWM was among the softest jackets I've owned and it was also one of the heaviest Aero's I've seen.

What I'm saying here is, it's not lambskin but it's not Vanson either. It a heavy hide but one that gets broken in quick and nice.

-Would mid-weight wool tartan lining make the jacket too warm for our spring/autumn months, and hold up to use?

Go with cotton drill, or at least one of the lightweight tartans. Even Aero says tartans are there just for the show. You won't get any help from them on a cold day, but they sure make a difference when the sun's up. With both tartan and a cotton drill you'll definitely have to layer up but being lighter and more breathable, cotton drill won't cook you up in there the way tartan would.

How thick the leather is don't matter when it comes to temperature.

-If you could only have one jacket, like me, what would you choose to be the most general-purpose and hold up to sustained use?

You say you'll ride in this jacket so I would consider one of the MC styles - but maybe HB works on a motorcycle too. Can't say as I haven't tried but I guess I would always go with a Kaff Racer and NOT just 'cause I love the style but because I've had three motorcycle jackets from Aero and I discovered that the CR is by far the best for riding. I'm sure Board Racer is just as good.

As for the sleeve length... Don't over do it. Don't know what you ride, sounds like it's something sporty but if it's not a Harley or something of a kind, for the sleeves to reach your hands, they'd have to cover your fingertips off the bike. Screw that. Sleeves will always ride up on a bike and one inch won't make much of a difference. Get the jacket with a standard sleeve length and a pair of decent motorcycle gloves.
 
Messages
15,572
Location
East Central Indiana
Absolutely go through Thurston Bros. who offers to ship out an Aero 'try on' fit jacket which makes it much easier to then adjust for perfect fit. A great help to eliminate measuring mistakes.
Also consider the 'Sheene' that is made by Aero especially for Thurston Bros. A very versatile jacket for both riding and streetwear. They will be more than willing to help you choose a lining and hide to serve your purpose.
With this service now available, why take a chance at guessing..?? Check out their 'Affiliate thread' in the outerwear section.
HD
 

Fanch

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,493
Location
Texas
I would tend to go along with what @jacketjunkie said and go with a Board Racer. Maybe @Sloan1874 will see this thread and comment as he owns a Board Racer and is, I think, more or less your size. If you reside in the US, I would second what HD above just said and go through Thurston Bros. who can not only offer fantastic advice but also send you a fit jacket. If the fit jacket they send you is a perfect fit, you would not be the first to simply keep it and mission accomplished.
 

Thnikkaman

New in Town
Messages
19
Get a Plainsman in mid-weight brown horsehide.
Oh man, I hadn't even seen this one yet. So the plainsman is basically a longer, slimmer half belt with higher armholes (like the premier), but without the pleats in the back? Sounds great for me. Generally skinny people and pleating don't match.

Where are you located?
If in the US, just give Carrie a call at Thurston Bros, she'll sort you out quick smart.
Absolutely go through Thurston Bros. who offers to ship out an Aero 'try on' fit jacket which makes it much easier to then adjust for perfect fit. A great help to eliminate measuring mistakes.
Also consider the 'Sheene' that is made by Aero especially for Thurston Bros. A very versatile jacket for both riding and streetwear. They will be more than willing to help you choose a lining and hide to serve your purpose.
With this service now available, why take a chance at guessing..?? Check out their 'Affiliate thread' in the outerwear section.
HD

Thanks guys, I'm going to give Thurston a call when they open (in about a half hour), and pester them with my questions :)

Hey Thnikkaman, welcome to the forum. I'm not one of the experts here, but, like you, I only have one leather jacket, and it is a 30s halfbelt in mid-weight, seal brown jerky horsehide. I love it and wear it all the time. The mid-weight jerky horsehide is closer in weight to the true vintage jackets. It may not have as much character (to look at) as some of the heavier leathers, but it is comfortable, breathable, and has a smooth, silky suppleness, and feels good to touch. It is dyed with a pigmented topcoat, so, with wear, you start seeing lighter brown showing through on the high points, like seams, cuffs, zipper edges, hem, and any areas that get repetitive wear - like from a seat belt. After a few years, it looks like a jacket with a history.

However, if I rode a motorcycle, I would want zippered sleeves, zippered pockets, a wind flap, and maybe a different type of collar.

For just walking around though, the 30s halfbelt with deep handwarmer pockets is hard to beat!

Thanks for sharing your personal story. I'm sorry you lost your Dad's jacket, but wherever he is, I bet he's glad you're going to be able to get one that fits the unique you, like his fit him. I'm already curious to see what it ends up being!

Good luck,

Bob
Thanks Bob, I appreciate the help. I do ride, but I'm not looking for a dedicated motorcycle jacket. More of a daily wearer that I can ride with from time to time, without looking ridiculous.
Pops was sad to hear that his jacket got torched, but elated to hear that I'm putting the effort into replacing it properly.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I have gathered, the jerky horsehide seems to be the more "rustic" bits from the regular FQHH cut, and tends to be about mid weight? Sounds great.
Then again, maybe it's worth the extra to get the vicenza horsehide, if I'm going to do it, I might as well do it right, no? ;-)

Go with cotton drill, or at least one of the lightweight tartans. Even Aero says tartans are there just for the show. You won't get any help from them on a cold day, but they sure make a difference when the sun's up. With both tartan and a cotton drill you'll definitely have to layer up but being lighter and more breathable, cotton drill won't cook you up in there the way tartan would.

How thick the leather is don't matter when it comes to temperature.



You say you'll ride in this jacket so I would consider one of the MC styles - but maybe HB works on a motorcycle too. Can't say as I haven't tried but I guess I would always go with a Kaff Racer and NOT just 'cause I love the style but because I've had three motorcycle jackets from Aero and I discovered that the CR is by far the best for riding. I'm sure Board Racer is just as good.

As for the sleeve length... Don't over do it. Don't know what you ride, sounds like it's something sporty but if it's not a Harley or something of a kind, for the sleeves to reach your hands, they'd have to cover your fingertips off the bike. Screw that. Sleeves will always ride up on a bike and one inch won't make much of a difference. Get the jacket with a standard sleeve length and a pair of decent motorcycle gloves.

Gotchya, I won't overdo the sleeves. As far as lining goes, it sounds like the tartan is not the best option for me. It really does look great, but oh well. I live in a fairly extreme climate, with winters that can get down to the teens and twenties and summers topping off at 100-105 (up to 40C), with cool springs and autumns, so it would definitely be a 3 season ordeal for me. Summer would roast me inside of my jacket.

Welcome to our community!

If you want to ride in that jacket, I would say you consider a Board Racer instead of a Half-Belt. It's one of Aeros slimmest pattern, has high armholes suited for reaching forward and you can order it with plenty of cosmetic changes, such as different collar, pockets or backpanels.

Midweight wool should be good for three seasons in most global climates.

Leatherwise, Aero offers some pretty midweight goatskin, which will last forever and age very slowly and a number of other midweight horsehide which all age quicker and develope more patina. Their Vicenca HH also isn't too heavy, you shouldnt rule it out just because it's listed with their heavyweiggts.


Measurementwise, sleeve length and such, Aero adjusts accordingly to your body and wishes, so it might be best to measure up a jacket you own and whose lengths you are happy with.

Thanks for the help Junkie, I'm definitely going to give Thurston Bros a call and figure out what specifications they think would work best for me. I'm considering Vicenza more and more....

I would tend to go along with what @jacketjunkie said and go with a Board Racer. Maybe @Sloan1874 will see this thread and comment as he owns a Board Racer and is, I think, more or less your size. If you reside in the US, I would second what HD above just said and go through Thurston Bros. who can not only offer fantastic advice but also send you a fit jacket. If the fit jacket they send you is a perfect fit, you would not be the first to simply keep it and mission accomplished.

Appreciate the help brother, I'll give the board racer a look up.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,552
Location
London, UK
Some good stuff here - I'd especially echo Monitor re both the myths that circulate about FQHH being "too heavy" (and in addition, my six year old Bootlegger is now soft as goat....), and lining. It's hard to beat the drill cottons for durability, and if you want something that doesn't show up dirt so well, look at the black or the brown drill cotton. Nothing ages quite like brown FQHH; the black is nice too if that's what you prefer; cordovan is great for something 'different', if you want that.

The Plainsman would be a good choice if you want a slightly longer jacket to meet modern, low-rise jeans. It's all very well adding length to a vintage jacket design to do that, but it doesn't take much to knock out the proportions and make it look all wrong - just ask anyone who has seen a cheap, modern take-off on the Perfect that's four or five inches too long..... I'd point you away from a HWM (except for the 30s version) if you're very lithe; it's by design a boxy jacket, and sizing down rdically as some vendors advise only means you end up with a boxy jacket that's too small and looks all wrong.

Regarding using it for riding, none of them will be quite as effective as a modern bike jacket with armouring and such, but if I was going to take an off in any of the Aero leathers, I'd be looking at FQHH or Horween Bison, or the heavy steer. If not using it for riding, there are a lot of other options to consider in midweight.
 

Fanch

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,493
Location
Texas
I have both Vicenza and jerky HH jackets and would choose Vicenza over jerky without a moment's hesitation. The Vicenza has a better look and feel, and also a better drape than the jerky.
 
Messages
14,926
Location
Chicago
Welcome to the lounge! Might as well put in an order for two or three Aero jackets if you plan on hanging around this place! Definately use the fit jacket process if you can. The hard part is sending it back. This was my 30's Half belt fit jacket. Standard pattern. HARD to return:)
image.jpeg
 

Sloan1874

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,396
Location
Glasgow
I would recommend a fit jacket as the route for the best possible experience. The Board Racer is a nice slim-fitting jacket, but I think you won't go wrong with a half-belt or a long half-belt. Sizing I'm also a 36 with close to the same measurements - a bit over 5ft9in, 29" waist, same chest size - and I took a 38 to get a comfortable fit for my BR and a 36 for everything else. There shouldn't be a problem with the sleeves as Aero can tailor to taste - mine tend to be shorter than average - but make sure Carrie factors in the 'wrinkle-up' excess. I would not discount FQHH either. My BR was made from tumbled FQHH and it's more than manageable. The secret with 'heavy' leathers is to get a good fit. If there's too much slack then it'll hang off you and feel like a dead weight. As far as a lining goes, I'd stick with a light tartan wool one that'll allow you to wear a jumper under it.
 

Thnikkaman

New in Town
Messages
19
Some good stuff here - I'd especially echo Monitor re both the myths that circulate about FQHH being "too heavy" (and in addition, my six year old Bootlegger is now soft as goat....), and lining. It's hard to beat the drill cottons for durability, and if you want something that doesn't show up dirt so well, look at the black or the brown drill cotton. Nothing ages quite like brown FQHH; the black is nice too if that's what you prefer; cordovan is great for something 'different', if you want that.

The Plainsman would be a good choice if you want a slightly longer jacket to meet modern, low-rise jeans. It's all very well adding length to a vintage jacket design to do that, but it doesn't take much to knock out the proportions and make it look all wrong - just ask anyone who has seen a cheap, modern take-off on the Perfect that's four or five inches too long..... I'd point you away from a HWM (except for the 30s version) if you're very lithe; it's by design a boxy jacket, and sizing down rdically as some vendors advise only means you end up with a boxy jacket that's too small and looks all wrong.

Regarding using it for riding, none of them will be quite as effective as a modern bike jacket with armouring and such, but if I was going to take an off in any of the Aero leathers, I'd be looking at FQHH or Horween Bison, or the heavy steer. If not using it for riding, there are a lot of other options to consider in midweight.

Welcome to the lounge! Might as well put in an order for two or three Aero jackets if you plan on hanging around this place! Definately use the fit jacket process if you can. The hard part is sending it back. This was my 30's Half belt fit jacket. Standard pattern. HARD to return:) View attachment 48935

Thanks for all the help Edward, Fanch, Ton, Sloan, et al.!
As per your guys' recommendation, I've called Thurston and started the custom fit process. They recommended that I go with the "premier" fit as opposed to the Plainsman, which is closer to the standard fit, since I'm such a skinny guy and don't want to be swimming in my jacket. The fit jacket should be on its way soon :D

I have decided to go for a mid-weight leather, for daily ease of use and 3 season wear around my climate. I'll just keep using my armored mesh jacket for the motorcycle, it's certainly not as stylish, but it beats road rash ;)


I have both Vicenza and jerky HH jackets and would choose Vicenza over jerky without a moment's hesitation. The Vicenza has a better look and feel, and also a better drape than the jerky.

As far as the specific type of leather, I'm not sure yet. Maybe mid-weight FQHH, maybe something else. I'll have to take a good hard look at the samples that Thurston's sends and mull it over for a while. There's certainly thousands of pictures of examples on this site. Although, the vicenza is starting to look better and better... and what is $125 when I'm already spending ~$1200 buckaroos? That's like, 10.5% extra...

I would recommend a fit jacket as the route for the best possible experience. The Board Racer is a nice slim-fitting jacket, I'm a 36 with close to the same measurements - a bit over 5ft9in, 29" waist, same chest size - and I took a 38 to get a comfortable fit. There shouldn't be a problem with the sleeves as Aero can tailor to taste - mine tend to be shorter than average - but make sure Carrie factors in the 'wrinkle-up' excess. I would not discount FQHH either. My BR was made from tumbled FQHH and it's more than manageable. The secret with 'heavy' leathers is to get a good fit. If there's too much slack then it'll hang off you and feel like a dead weight. As far as a lining goes, I'd stick with a light tartan wool one that'll allow you to wear a jumper under it.

I'm either going to stick with the light tartan or just get cotton drill, haven't decided yet. Definitely don't want to go any heavier in the lining.
Hmm... definitely more to consider. What do you mean by 'wrinkle-up' excess exactly?
 

Sloan1874

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,396
Location
Glasgow
FQHH takes on heavy wrinkles around the sleeves, it's one of the identifying marks of it. Because of this, you have to take the 'shrinkage' that the wrinkles cause into account when you're ordering. HOWEVER, this does not really apply to any of the lighter leathers, so don't concern yourself on that score.
When it comes to light tartan or cotton, maybe the latter is slightly more 'wick' power when it gets warm, but I'd say it's marginal.
 
Messages
15,407
Welcome to the lounge! Might as well put in an order for two or three Aero jackets if you plan on hanging around this place! Definately use the fit jacket process if you can. The hard part is sending it back. This was my 30's Half belt fit jacket. Standard pattern. HARD to return:) View attachment 48935

You're the Godzilla, King Kong and the turtle with jet engines of any jacket style, man...
 

Seb Lucas

I'll Lock Up
Messages
7,573
Location
Australia
Nice that you're going with mid-weight. I've had heavier hide, 3oz to 4oz on many jackets over the years - soft cowhide, steer and the stiff FQHH and I've always found them too heavy and uncomfortable. Some folks don't seem to notice but I do and I've never found the thicker stuff necessary. And since heavy leather isn't warm of itself it doesn't work to keep you warm in winter unless you use a thick liner or you layer. According to some on here, like Dinerman, the lighter hides are more period accurate too.
 
Last edited:
Messages
14,926
Location
Chicago
You're the Godzilla, King Kong and the turtle with jet engines of any jacket style, man...
Lol! Man I lived that fit jacket but my heart is just set on Midnight blue.
Thnikkaman, the fit jacket will give you so much more than just lengths and fit to consider. Being able to hold the hide in hand, checkout the hardware, look at options like yokes and shoulder gussets etc....very good call on your part. Before the above pictured fit jacket I never would've considered the lighter weight Italian HH. BUT it's so sublime to wear that I'm sure I'll need something made with it. Enjoy the process!
 

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