A leather jacket can instantly elevate your style. If you’re planning on wearing one, you’ll need to ensure that it is supple and doesn’t look too stiff. If your leather jacket feels a little too firm, it may be best to break it in.
By breaking in your leather jacket, you allow the leather to stretch and conform to the natural shape of your body, making it feel more comfortable to wear. While it also makes the leather material more supply, it can also prevent it from aging prematurely.
The best ways to break in a new leather jacket are to wear it regularly, condition it using leather-friendly products, or tumble dry it with no heat. We’ll teach you all this and more in this guide!
Wear Your Leather Jacket Regularly
The safest and most natural method for breaking in your leather jacket is to wear it regularly. Unfortunately, this is also the slowest way. When you wear your leather jacket frequently, it begins to mold around your body, as it gets accustomed to your body’s natural shape.
If you want to quicken the process, you can try stretching your arms and body from time to time. These movements will likely stretch and loosen your leather jacket, giving you a more comfortable fit.
More specifically, we recommend stretching and bending your elbows, trying spinal twists, rounding your back, protracting your shoulder blades, and squeezing your hands together behind your back.
Not only will this provide you with some exercise and mobility, but it will also relax the fibers of the stiff new jacket, giving it more flexibility in the long run without damaging it in the long run.
Condition Leather Jacket
Another way to break in your new leather jacket is to condition it. A leather conditioner seeps into the layers of the material and lubricates its fibers. This allows the jacket to become more supple and comfortable to wear.
Conditioning a new leather jacket is a fast, easy, and safe way to break it in. There are various types of leather conditioners to choose from, and we’ve mentioned the best ones below.
Using An Off-the-Shelf Leather Conditioner
If you are trying a dedicated leather conditioner to treat your jacket, we recommend using the Leather Honey Leather Conditioner or anything that has similar ingredients and is designed for use on leather.
Start by testing the product on a small, inconspicuous area of your leather jacket. Be sure to use a leather conditioner that matches the color of the jacket to ensure it doesn’t affect its appearance.
If you are conditioning an old but stiff jacket, wipe it gently with a slightly damp cloth to remove any fine dust or old stains beforehand.
Using Lanolin to Soften Your Leather Jacket
Lanolin is a natural moisturizing ingredient that is obtained from sheep. Most people prefer not to use lanolin, since it can soften the leather to a greater degree than other leather conditioners in the market.
Some leather conditioners (such as Leather Honey or Bickmore Saddle Soap & Conditioner) already contain lanolin. These lanolin-based cleaners and conditioners can be perfect for breaking in new and especially stiff leather jackets.
On the other hand, lanolin can also be quite heavy on leather and may cause it to darken in color. Therefore, we recommend reading the product description carefully beforehand.
It’s also a good idea to start testing the effect of lanolin on your jacket in a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure no unwanted side effects are noticed before applying it to the entire jacket.
Tumble Dry Your Leather Jacket without Heat
An innovative way to break in your leather jacket without causing too much distress to it is by putting it in a tumble dryer without any heat. The tumbling motion will cause the leather to stretch and scrunch, which will in turn soften it.
Take note that using this method may distress your leather jacket. Therefore it’s only advisable to use this technique if you’re looking for a slightly distressed look. It’s also important to mention that you should only tumble dry your leather without any heat setting.
Applying heat to leather can cause it to dry out and stiffen – it can even cause it to begin cracking. Therefore, it is best to do this only if your dryer has a no-heat setting available. You may also want to apply a leather conditioner after this process.
How to Break in a Suede Leather Jacket
A suede leather jacket is more sensitive and difficult to break in, especially if it has gotten wet previously. If you want to break in your suede leather jacket, you can use all the methods mentioned above except for using a dedicated top-grain leather conditioner.
To treat suede, you need to apply a specialized suede leather conditioner to your jacket. Using a generic leather conditioner may alter its naturally soft texture.
Apply a Suitable Suede Conditioner
As regular leather conditioners can ruin the nap of suede leather and impact its texture permanently, it’s vital that you use one that is made for suede, such as the Care & Cool Suede and Nubuck Conditioner.
This product is formulated for use on suede leather and can nourish your jacket while softening it at the same time. These conditioners contain oils and conditioning agents that permeate the material without saturating it.
To break in your suede leather jacket, we recommend spraying it over all areas, as this will allow the natural fibers to soften and become more flexible.
Send Your Suede Jacket to the Dry Cleaners
If you want to break in your suede leather jacket but don’t want to risk ruining it, we recommend sending it for dry cleaning. This method is best for a stiff suede jacket that hasn’t been worn in a while and has accumulated dust or a few unsightly spots.
Although the high cost of the dry cleaners needs to be considered, you can rest assured that your suede jacket will be safely cleaned by professionals. If you are unsure where to give your suede jacket for dry cleaning, it is best to contact a company that is experienced in cleaning suede.
Frequently Asked Questions
While breaking in your brand-new leather jacket seems like a straightforward process, we understand that you may have more questions about this topic. We’ve made sure to address some of these questions below.
Does Breaking In a Leather Jacket Cause It to Look Distressed?
Breaking in your leather jacket may cause it to look distressed. However, it depends entirely on what method you’ve selected. For example, wearing your leather jacket frequently will show natural stretch and crease marks in areas where it bends
The same applies to the no-heat tumble drying method. If you want to avoid any signs of distress on your leather jacket, we suggest just wearing it naturally and applying a suitable leather conditioner to break it in gradually.
How Long Does the Breaking In Process Take?
Breaking in a leather jacket can take a few days or even a few weeks, depending on the type of leather and its thickness. We suggest breaking it in gradually and using a leather conditioner so that it doesn’t overstretch and crease.
Keep in mind that some leather jackets that are more durable and thicker may take much longer to break. It’s important that you do not adopt any harsh breaking in methods unless you prefer your leather jacket to have a more distressed appearance.
Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Writer At Leatherskill
I’m a leather enthusiast turned artisan. Apart from crafting leather products, I’m passionate about writing in-depth guides and reviews on all things leather!