Style file: Take flight in a bomber jacket

The sun may be out, but there’s still a nip in the air. A bomber jacket is the perfect piece to see you through to summer, says Rebecca Gonsalves
  • @R_Gonsalves

The fashion rule book has been ripped up and thrown out more times than we care to remember, so much so that once revolutionary wardrobe items are now viewed as harmless old favourites. Take, for example, the bomber jacket – whether in plush leather or suede, vibrant silk or embellished with colourful crystals, this versatile style is back for spring/summer in a big way, although for some, it never went away. Everything Nineties seems to be news at the moment, so it is not surprising that the jacket that was big – literally, thanks to a fashion for oversized padded versions – in that era has returned, although it has been given a 21st-century spin. The modern take on the jacket is suitably slimline – after all, even the most game for playing with proportions don’t want to resemble the Michelin Man in all his padded glory, and fabrics range from the luxurious to the utilitarian – fittingly, given the garment’s origins.

Not all bombers are created equal, although they are all inspired by the original – the MA-1 flight jacket, which was first issued to flight personnel in the US forces in about 1950. Made of the then relatively new fabric, nylon, the jacket was designed to be lightweight and unrestrictive, while providing warmth at altitude. The original, complete with bright-orange lining, found favour with civilian subcultures from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, and indeed there is a certain appeal to the classically retro, no-frills version.

But this season, the bomber has been given a stylish update as, by stripping away most of the padding, womenswear designers have hit upon a spring jacket that has far more attitude than a trench or mac, but is just as versatile. Jonathan Saunders’ colourful satin versions for spring/summer were exemplary, not least because they were worn with delicate skirts and louche, wide-legged trousers, creating the ultimate in androgynous dressing.