Will a leather jacket stretch? (Explained)

Sometimes leather can be a little stiff and difficult to wear. Will leather stretch if it is too tight? Will a leather jacket stretch with wear, or do you need one size larger than normal to accommodate the material’s tendency to shrink in length? Let’s find out.

Yes. Leather will absolutely stretch with wear and time. It can be hard to tell when the leather will stop stretching since it doesn’t happen overnight. Leather jackets can stretch up to an inch or more in length. Be patient and wear the jacket until the leather stretches enough to fit well if it is too tight.

Stretch marks could occur if you wear a leather jacket that has not stretched much before donning. Like all other materials, the leather will break down once it’s stressed beyond its limits.

How much does leather stretch?

Leather stretches by about half an inch for every foot of length in the garment. Even if you don’t know how long your jacket is, half an inch per foot should be a good rule of thumb. If you want your leather jacket to stretch out, wear it often so it can break down and relax.

Do lamb leather jackets stretch?

Lamb leather is a stretchy, soft material. If you buy a lambskin jacket that’s too tight, the leather will still stretch because it’s so flexible. Other types of leather need to break in before they can stretch, but not lambskin. The hide usually gets looser as it stretches out with wear and time.

Should a leather jacket be tight or loose?

Generally, you want a leather jacket to fit snugly. Do not buy a jacket that is larger than your measurements so it can stretch and break in with wear. You might want to consider buying the next size up if you plan on wearing bulky clothes underneath the leather jacket.

The jacket should fit well when you reach your arms up or move around in it. A loose leather jacket that hangs past your waist can look sloppy and unflattering.

Can leather jackets shrink?

Yes, leather jackets can shrink if you apply heat to it. If you wash your leather jacket with hot water or dry it in the dryer, it will surely shrink. Once the leather cools down again, it stays that size.

Do you have to break in leather jackets?

Most of the time, no. There are some types of leather that need to be broken in for it to become soft or supple. The more stiff and rigid this type of material is, the longer it takes to break in.

Most leather jackets will not require breaking in. In particular, those made from tanned cowhide are already flexible enough to accommodate most body types.

If, for some reason, you need to break in a leather jacket, the fastest way to do it is by wearing the jacket. At first, you’ll feel how stiff and rigid the material is when you move around. The more you wear it, the more supple the leather becomes.


Leather will stretch with wear. If it’s too tight, take your time and wear the jacket until it fits comfortably. Once it stretches, the leather will break down, and your jacket will fit perfectly.

Visit your local dry cleaner if you find yourself with a leather jacket that stretches too much. They might be able to retract the leather into its natural shape without harming it.

Andre from leatherninja.com

Andre is a passionate leatherworker. He loves the smell and feel of leather, and he takes great care in selecting the right pieces of leather for his projects. Read more here.