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Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by addison, Nov 26, 2016.
I learned a lot from buying used jackets. Plus I never lost $$ when I passed along ones that didn't work out. If you miss on a new one, it could be an expensive lesson to learn. Just sayin'- 5'9" is perfect height for vintage jackets IMHO.
Good luck Addison!
We are always happy to see and comment on your upcoming flight jacket
As a historian, Doctor Damage, I always believe it is important to give accurate information on VLJ. The OP may not be interested in what USAAF A2s were made from, but I was only pointing out that cow was used on originals and of course is used on repros today.
Point taken Doctor Strange. I have to admit that you are right that the chance of getting the size you want on the first jacket purchased off eBay is pretty unlikely, and a top tier jacket that doesn't fit is no good. I was speaking from my experience of buying a lower tier jacket for my first G-1 and being disappointed when I received it.
As I mentioned in my earlier post it is nice to see that there is good intel regarding the less expensive options out there.
Andrew - I understand, and very much appreciate your input. I've learned an awful lot from your posts over the years. Sorry if I came off as scolding, that wasn't my intention!
@addison your biggest challenge is to find a jacket that properly fits your 5'9", 250 pound frame, keeping in mind that original A-2 contracts were designed for someone with a 5'9" 145 pound frame. Unfortunately, I have more questions than answers. As others have said, Gibson & Barnes has a generous fit. If you ever have the occasion to visit their factory in El Cajon and try on stuff there, I suspect the trip would be worthwhile. Just a 40 minute ride on the San Diego Trolley and then a 10 minute walk.
Fanch makes a very good point. It's a fine balance to find a jacket that fits without looking like a couple of leather bin bags stitched together. Liking the A-2 look is one thing, rocking it is another. I would be tempted to look at civilian versions that are more forgiving in terms of fit but retain an echo of the style.
Addison - see what you started. I knew there would be lots of advice and there would be at least one moment when the thread went South (which it did) but best of luck on your search. The guys promoting the big-end stuff know that if you keep things in your price range you are going to get a cheap looking jacket so I think their ideas are sincere and make some sense. A number of the lower end makers being suggested just don’t make the most super looking jackets. I mean they are “ok” but you totally get what you pay for.
Let me throw this out. You were honest enough to suggest having a bit of a tummy???? If you are a well-proportioned big guy - great - but if the tummy is larger than you like (enough to where you are mentioning it in your post!!!!) then I gotta say that an A-2 or G-1 is not going to look so good on you. Sorry man, IMO but these short wasted leather jackets make the “belly" look bigger and you may be disappointed. Consider a longer leather jacket. If you are wanting a military vibe, consider an Arctic M41 or a Navy N-1, now that might really fit the bill!!! Something cloth. A Tanker might also work as it’s not as short waisted as some other flight jackets yet it was a favorite pilot option in WW2.
I feel fine saying all this as I am average build but stocky and sort of barrel chested with similar chest and waste size so many high wasted leather jackets don't look so good on me, some do but I am slowly moving away from them. Still love the A-2's, etc!!!!!
Perhaps you can look for "flight jacket" on your local Craigslist and actually try stuff on before spending any money. Where are you located? Perhaps a fellow TFL member has a jacket or 12 in a similar size for you to try out.
My first a2 purchase (not long ago) was a horsehide Avirex that actually has more of the details right than wrong. The fit was a bit too loose for me so I traded up to a second hand Lost Worlds which I love.
Best of luck and have fun!
It sure is! Thank you ALL so much for all the awesome advice!!!
Somewhere between 46 and 48
There are always several amazing examples in your size range on the classifieds here. For a bit more money you will hat an awesome deal on a lifetime jacket.
Addison, I assume the price point is the determining factor here? (sorry, haven't got a chance to read through everyone's post but I see you waited a while to post the second time). First off, you can find new old stock, or excellent Cooper A2 on ebay, in large sizes. Cooper is by no means junk. For your price range, it's a very good brand. They in fact was a contractor for the airforce at one point. Also, you can find excellent used Schott or Avirex flight jacket made from Lambskin. Your chest size would not be a good guide as your mid section calls the shot here, so I'd say aim at 50 chest size. Anyhow, you'll really have to look harder and spend time trawling on ebay. Or, if you could push your price up a bit, you'll get more.
And, US WINGS, you will like them.
Thank you, Regius...in fact I have been looking at Cooper on eBay and in my budget they seem to be what I'm looking for. I may move up to better stuff later, but they look decent for starters. I've been seeing nice looking Coopers going for $100-150 in my size (which I'm happy to say is shrinking due to a diet I'm working hard on).
Best thing IMO as a terminal novice is to not be too intimidated and afraid to make mistakes. Despite what I feel is a friendly rivarly between the harcore military jacket versus the civilian jacket guys and gals, everyone beats to the same drum and is in my experience, quite happy to help. I'm talking more knowledge on details and flight jacket contracts than purchasing jackets per se, but trying different jackets will give you a wealth of knowledge in the process. Hands on learning.
Hi there, Further to whats been said, you are in for some fun, enjoy the search.
Your biggest trick is going to be fit. Cooper is a good starting point, as they are a little bit roomier. Be patient, they do come up in your budget.
My first A-2 was a Cooper and I loved it, but the sleeves were too short for me. Went through 3 Coopers before my first Eastman - so beware... You 'budget' may miraculously increase the more you venture down the rabbit hole.
Older Eastmans on Ebay are a good bet, if you are very patient. If one pops up grab it.
NB - measure a jacket you already own, if you can and then compare that with any A-2 you are interested in buying. Remember the A-2 is a trim jacket, so will likely feel a little restrictive at the outset also, until you get used to it.
A-2s are not for everybody. Also consider a G-1... these can be very comfortable jackets and easier to wear, due to the bi-swing back and satin lining. They last forever and can easily be found within your budget...
And then check out AVI Leather.... http://www.avilthr.com/webshop/
They have a pretty decent goatskin A-2 (reviewed earlier) for $329 NEW. Currently with 20% OFF ON NON-EU ORDERS and FREE SHIPPING & FREE RETURNS - Almost a no brainer...
Also look at Cockpit jackets, I recently;y saw some on Ebay well within your budget. Cockpit makes decent 'generic' jackets.
Also try http://www.buckstarrlegends.com/ourjacketfeatures/ - some good deals on 'new' budget A-2s and G-1s
Being a little taller, but about the same build, I wear mostly A-2 jackets and echo the recommendations for US Wings - I have one each of their A-2 and G-1 jackets - good quality and fit me well (the G-1 is a trimmer fit than the A-2 in the same size). You also asked about Cooper A-2 jackets. My first "good" (not form the mall) A-2 was a Cooper - and more than 24 years later, I still enjoy wearing it. It has held up well, and for many years it was my only leather jacket, so it has seen lots of wear time.
Though by now I'm supposing you've made a purchase, I'll share my experience as a fellow beginner: I'd wanted an A-2 because I'd admired the style, and for me as well it would be my first leather purchase. I was in the same kind of price range you are! Eventually I tried US Wings...but my body type did not work. I'm taller than you are, but I wasn't all that much less heavy, and I am definitely not barrel-chested. I found that either the shoulders fit or the belly...but not both at the same time. In the end I gave up, returning them all.
Now fast forward to today: I'm about 70 pounds lighter. The jacket I eventually purchased at the time (not leather, cotten oilskin outback-style jacket) is now hanging on me. I'm waiting for US Wings to get fresh stock of their Modern A-2, and will try again. If it doesn't look good on my now, then that's clearly all for me.