After about eight years of arsing about – am I too old? will I look tragic? I soooo want one… but I could look desperate – I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought myself a black leather biker jacket.
Except it isn’t leather (like the one in the pic above, which I wish was me, but it isn’t), it’s pleather. Plastic ‘leather’ which they now list as ‘PU’, hoping to dazzle us into thinking it’s some new kind of textile.
I totally was when I bought my first skirt with ‘PU’ on the label, about four years ago, until curiosity made me Google it and I found out that PU is short for polyurethane, a very well-known form of our good old friend plastic.
Although to be fair PU is a massive leap forward from the kind of boil-in-a-bag placcie my first forays into pleather clothing were made of.
I could lose a kilo in one night sweating in the tight and shiny plastic ‘crocodile skin’ pants I bought in a sex shop in Paris. They were fantastically groovy, but I’d go from being a one-woman sauna on the dance floor, to near hyperthermia on venturing out into cold night air.
Peeling them off at the end of the evening was always an interesting process.
PU doesn’t fuse to your skin like that, because it’s made of a layer of polyurethane fused onto the top of woven polyester fabric, so it has both structure and give.
But the great leap forward the clever textile scientists have made is to somehow make the surface of it so much like real leather people are genuinely fooled. I even feel quite fooled myself.
Because even though my £39 biker jacket from Zara is 100% PU it gives me exactly the hip cat swinger leather feeling I’ve so been longing to get back into my life.
I basically spent my entire youth in biker jackets. Pretty much from the moment I first heard the Sex Pistols in November 1976, I wasn’t without one.
Even when I moved on from that rebellious phase I still always had a black leather jacket of some kind until my mid-thirties when it suddenly felt wrong and muttony and it’s been sorely missing from my life ever since.
You have a different relationship with biker jackets than you do with other clothes. It’s more like that thing you have with a favourite hat. No matter where you’re going, it always feels right to put it on, like it’s part of you.
I felt like that from the moment I tried my Zara pleather on. I wore it out of the shop. And every day since.
It doesn’t matter what else I’ve got on, the minute I slid my arms into my pleather I feel like the best real me.
I spent the whole of yesterday in home clothes – ancient Juicy Couture velour trackies and a sweatshirt. When I popped out for a walk I threw my pleather on over the top and immediately felt groovy, like a had a look on.
I wore it to a cool friend’s bar party on Monday night with my thigh-gripping boot cut jeans (Gap), high wedges and a studded belt (same sex shop as previously mentioned plastic pants) and sashayed around thinking I was Marianne Faithful in 1971.
I may have looked more like Mrs Sloccombe rigged out as a punk rocker for the Grace Brothers fancy dress Christmas party, but I felt great.
So I’m enormously grateful to the inventors of PU, because a £39 jacket, which feels and behaves like leather (and makes you behave as though you are actually wearing leather…) was a low-price experiment to see if it still feels as good to wear a biker jacket in your 50s, as it did in your 20s.
Turns out it totally does – but I wasn’t game to put it to the test with a £600 real leather investment purchase.
Now I’ve joyfully discovered that my inner rock chick is a happy in a biker jacket as she was twenty five years ago, I’m wondering if I should now shell out for the real thing.
There are some really gorgeous ones out there, but you know what – the whole concept of a ‘designer’ biker jacket really takes the roll and out of it for me.
I’m happy in my pleather. And it’s machine washable.