Accessories: Biker jackets are cut short, so they don’t bunch up when you sit down. But, when you stand up, they can sit above your belt buckle, revealing skin. A long T-shirt or hoodie worn underneath will fix this, covering that odd gap and visually lengthening your torso, making you look slimmer and taller. And, a hood flopping around behind the helmet may look odd on a bike, but it drastically softens the look of a leather jacket off the bike, helping it appear more casual while aiding fit. You can otherwise break up the visual blockiness of big items of gear and soften the whole thing with a hanky in a jeans pocket or even a scarf. Bonus points if you have the appropriate level of Erol Flynn to pull of an Aerostich Silk Scarf.
That’s the little stuff, now onto the big items.
They should always match the color of your belt and jacket. So they’re probably going to be black. Our basic rule for determining if a boot is going to protect your feet in a motorcycle crash is to grasp it by toe in one hand and heel in the other and twist as hard as you can. Does the result look like your foot would remain intact? If so, you’re good to go. Look like you’d end up with foot sausage? Don’t wear it. You also want strong (but not guillotining steel) toe and heel boxes, a sole with good grip and solid support for your ankle. Embrace the biker look and go with a full-on boot rather than a riding sneaker. A boot will be more versatile (they work with shirt and tie or t-shirt alike) than sneakers while providing exponentially more protection and, with proper care (see leather lotion), will last many times longer. Make sure they lace up securely and tightly, well above your ankle; because you really want them to stay on when you crash.
Want to go all future function? If you’re wearing a technical jacket with external armor and geometric shapes, then a pair of Dainese Torque Ins are the best accompaniment we’ve seen. They’ll absolutely fit under your jeans and you’ll benefit from GP-level protection.
The eternal conundrum. By opting to wear any sort of casual riding pant (denim, Kevlar, a mix, whatever) you absolutely are sacrificing safety in pursuit of comfort and style. Regular denim, no matter how tough, will not protect you in a motorcycle crash.
Having said that, there are some jeans that build back in a modicum of safety. Go ahead and dismiss all “Draggin Jeans” and similar from established gear manufacturers. Without exception, every pair we’ve ever seen is absolutely hideous and many suffer from that unfortunate logo-bloat which plagues all riding gear. You really don’t want a giant embroidered star on your butt.
The key item in your collection, you can go a few directions with your jacket, allowing you to personalize your style. Whether you go simple, clean and classic (like me), baroque adornment (think Schott Perfecto), vintage style (RSD Enzo) or futuristic function (Dainese G Speed Pelle), think quality and subtlety. Nothing looks cheaper than cheap leather, while conversely, nothing matches the look or feel or intent of the quality stuff.
Throwing modern jackets into the mix, it can be hard to set firm rules for determining leather quality. You should be able to see a nice grain, without visible flaws, the stitching should appear and feel strong (and include hidden seams for strength) and any adornments such as logos or external armor should be subtle and of a quality equivalent to that of the jacket; embossed rubber logos bad, titanium shoulder sliders good.
Jackets are expensive. Take the time to shop around, comparing materials, construction and fit. A good leather jacket can last a lifetime, make sure it looks and feels and smells and wears like something you’ll want next to your skin for that long.
For riding, you’ll want high quality, CE-rated body armor in the shoulders and elbows. A back protector can always be worn separately, a solution which creates a greater area of coverage and often leads to a better fitting jacket because there’s no weight pulling the rear jacket panel down.
Oh, and speaking of panels, fewer is better. Seams are a weak area, they tend to split in a slide. Any jacket should, at a minimum, use a single panel across the main area of the back. A notable exception is the Vanson, which is so ridiculously thick and strong, its seams are probably tougher than the leather on lesser bike wear.