These leather jackets are under $500 but feel like they cost twice as much - we haven't found a better value yet

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Thursday Boot Company

There are certain wardrobe essentials that a man should only have to buy once in his lifetime, and a genuine leather jacket is at the top of the list. If you pick the right one, it'll never go out of style, and it'll only get better with age.

But realistically, buying a quality leather jacket can become a substantial financial investment - one that most guys aren't ready to make (myself included). Most worthwhile options cost around $700 or more, which, for a while, meant that my only chance of getting a premium yet affordable leather jacket would be in a thrift store. That was, until I found out one of my favorite shoe startups was making really nice leather jackets without the retail markup.

Thursday Boot Company, a footwear company we've praised for making boots as good as pairs twice as expensive, recently launched a collection of leather jackets for men. The evolution of the brand's product lineup proves that Thursday is becoming a menswear brand with staying power, and not just a trendy startup, here today and gone tomorrow.

Coming in three styles - Motorcycle, Varsity, and Flight - Thursday jackets use the same premium leathers found on the brand's footwear and accessories, and are priced between $349 and $489.

Thursday Boot Company

Thursday sent over two Motorcycle Jackets for us to try out - one in black full-grain leather and the other in natural Chromexel Horween leather - and, in my opinion, they're more impressive than the brand's shoes.

I say that because generally, well-made dress shoes are a lot easier to come by, especially if you wait for the right sale. Very seldom will you find a genuine leather jacket of this quality at an under-$500 price.

I gravitated toward the black version for its timeless design. Thursday executed the look flawlessly by including all of the elements of a classic motorcycle jacket (lapels, angled pockets, buttons, a waist belt, and a fair amount of zippers) without making it look like a tacky version that should've stayed in the 1970s. The decision to use gunmetal hardware over a brighter silver gives the jacket a bit of sophistication.

Thursday Boot Company Moto Jacket

The material Thursday used on this jacket is very substantial. If you're of the belief that a $200 fast-fashion leather jacket would be a better buy because there's no real difference, this jacket will completely prove you wrong. It's made with the type of leather that takes time to break in and soften, making for a garment that could very well outlive you.

The first time I wore the jacket, my dad recognized it as a new piece and began to ask questions about it. After giving him a rundown on Thursday Boot Company as a brand and the specifics on the jacket, he went into his closet to fish out a custom leather jacket that he paid a lot of money for more than 20 years ago during his days as a motorcycle rider to compare. Surprisingly, Thursday's Moto Jacket was just as thick as his, even though it's not specifically designed for the same purpose. We're not experts on motorcycle safety, but my dad said he'd feel safe wearing a Thursday jacket if he were to ride again. I'll be sticking to four wheels, so that's not something I can test out - but having the chance to compare my jacket to his much more expensive one said a lot about its quality.

According to a currency inflation calculator, the $700 my dad spent on his leather jacket in 1996 is equivalent to $1,121.24 in today's dollars. With that perspective in mind, paying $489 for a Thursday leather jacket is a lot easier to justify. Thursday knows its jackets are extremely fairly priced and they have every reason to boast about it. In the description for the Natural Chromexel Horween leather Moto Jacket, Thursday says, "Try to find another Chromexcel Jacket under $500... we'll wait." Well, I tried and came up with absolutely nothing. The closest thing I could find was about $200 more.

Thursday Boot Company

The Natural Chromexel Horween leather jacket is noticeably thicker and slightly heavier than the black full-grain leather. Here's what my colleague had to say about his experience wearing it:

This is not your mother's Moto jacket. Unless she's a biker, of course. Thick, stiff, Natural Horween leather, Rubi zippers, gunmetal hardware, and an attached leather belt make this a real biker jacket that could probably handle a generous thrashing (I haven't, nor do I intend to put it to that test). With three-ounce leather, this is an extremely heavy jacket. It's also obnoxiously stiff at first. Wearing it around the office to try to break it in little by little, I felt like Ralphie's little brother in "A Christmas Story." Winter in New York is a chilly time to be heading out in leather (even if it's thick leather) and I haven't worn it enough to break it in yet, but it's started to loosen up and I have good faith that this jacket will, in all likelihood, outlast my skin and bones. At under $500, this jacket is a steal, and a worthy addition to any collection. - Insider Picks guides reporter, Owen Burke

Thursday Boot CompanyThe Thursday Varsity Jacket in Grey, $349.

If the Motorcycle jackets we've tried aren't exactly your style, Thursday also makes a $349 wool-blend varsity jacket with leather sleeves (pictured above) and a $489 leather flight jacket with a removable shearling collar. The Flight Jacket has proved to be a popular choice, so you'll have to join the waitlist to grab one from the next batch produced.

When you're ready to add a leather jacket that's timeless in design, built to last for life, and priced fairly to your wardrobe, your search can begin and end with Thursday.

Shop all Thursday Boot Company Leather Jackets here.

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