Privilege Blog

Can Middle-Aged Ladies Wear Biker Jackets?

There’s no indirect way to put this. Can middle-aged ladies wear biker jackets? And to be precise, what about a middle-aged heterosexual woman who has never come close to driving a bike herself?

Tish Jett, over on A Femme d’un Certain Age, captioned the above photo, “When chicken get teeth (that’s when I would wear this jacket).” Her commenters almost to a woman agreed. I was surprised, as I had hypothesized that I might rather go biker than hang out with fanged poultry. A shopping expedition confirmed.

I wore this outfit to work. On Tuesday, to be precise. And enjoyed myself enormously.

Details: AllSaints jacket, GAP 1969 selvedge jeans, a white v-neck Petit Bateau tee, and black and brown Gravati oxfords.

One might ask, how does one get to Biker from Quiet? Simple. High WASP Dress Code Tenet #1: Dress Appropriately. Yes, really. The dress code at my workplace is Don’t Wear Tattoos On Your Face. Everything else goes. In fact, tattoos on your face might be just fine, we simply haven’t got anyone on the team who has made that choice. Yet.

(And I can’t lie to you. Everyone’s got and aspirational persona and mine is tough and brave and laughs on the street and thinks, “Well yeah,” when someone calls her bad-a**.)

So one might also ask, how does a middle-aged High WASP lady make an aspirational biker jacket her own? The Grande Dame drapes it over her Alaia Little Black Dress. An Artsy Cousin will do as she pleases, which may involve a cotton gauze maxi-skirt. However, all Archetypes rely on one secret weapon.

Pearls, of course.

I added saturated crimson lipstick to situate the needle where I want it on the masculine-feminine gauge. Also to prevent my face from disappearing altogether amongst shoulder-quilting, distressed leather,  and zipper-strings. The messy hair, well, so as not to try too hard.

Sturdy Gals, being monobagamous and lovers of convenience, will come close to ruining said bad-a** effect with a sedate cross-body. Here, by Bottega Veneta. If I wear it hanging on the back of my hip it looks less sedate but then you couldn’t see it, now could you? Sturdies are nothing if not pragmatic and helpful by intent.

So we make Very Tough Faces to compensate. Add a sneer for good measure.

Rock on, Wild Ones. As they say, no need to go gently.

A Few Thoughts For Fall Of 2016

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165 Responses

    1. Let me just say, right up top here, that I was surprised almost to embarrassment by the response. Almost not quite. After all, as Mom says, a simple thank you will suffice. Thank you very much. What an adventure all around.

  1. You look fabulous! Everything perfect except the bag. I see a much more casual purse. Maybe a large tote, or an across the body small bag worn in back.

    Love that first sideways photo. Would I be miss to say “adorable?”

  2. Thank you so much for proving that yes, a middle aged woman can wear a biker jacket (though you did overshoot a bit- you totally ROCK a biker jacket.)I’m going to wear this very outfit on the birthday where I first feel “middle aged.”


    Sorry for the caps, but I am THAT enthusiastic. I love this on you, so much. And the pearls are the perfect finishing touch.

  4. Another thought – would a middle age man ask this same question? No, he would not.
    If there is one thing I’ve learned in middle age it is to throw caution to the wind.

  5. You Go Girl! The jacket – and you look fantastic!
    I think women’s motorcycle jackets doesn’t suffer from exactly the same stereotypes as those of men. Well dependent upon where one lives.

    Myself? Well, it took awhile for the conservative socialite ladies; now my friends, to come around – admitting over lunch at the 4 Seasons, that they had simply given up trying to categorize me.

    On a given school day, I collect our son at his middle school in a bike I’ve had for 17 years; a 1964 R69S BMW motorcycle w/a 1948 Steib side car. It’s in a gorgeous vanilla buff color and coordinates beautifully with my jacket, Gucci skinny jeans and Jimmy Choo Universe studded clog boots. Later that evening, at a fundraiser in long gown custom formal … both accessorized of course with pearl studs!

    1. the Jacket is great, the motorcycle combo is great,but I have an issue with the skinny jeans and boots. If it hasn’t sunk in motorcycle clothing is for protection and the most vulnerable part is your legs and feet, therefore you are sadly leaving yourself open to serious injury. I trust you wear a sensible helmet.Please take care, my day is taken up dealing with crash victims.

  6. Sturdy Gal here (like my fashion icon Grace Kelly), and I LOVE biker jackets — at any age (including on wee ones) as long as their relatively simple in styling. I believe they fit right into a closet of safari jackets, trench and barn coats, and other classic utilitarian outerwear.

    Agree with Sandy that an across-the-body bag worn in back would complement your look better, but don’t go too small. (I’m sure you have at one medium-sized one in your closet, Lisa!)

    I wear my jacket with a black & white boat-neck mariniere or a white tee with a strand of long grey pearls and a fun white watchband. (I’m on a much tighter budget than you, so I went with a Michele silicone “Tahitian Jelly Bean” watch, but you probably can afford one of their ceramics — if not the Chanel one they’re all aping!

    And you’re absolutely correct about the importance of adapting to your setting: Dress. Appropriately.

    1. How did you know I’ve coveted that white Chanel for years and years:). Your outfit sounds great.

  7. You look incredible! The styling is absolutely spot-on.

    Will you wear the jacket over button-fronts as well?
    If I’m not mistaken, you also have a pair of nice ferragamo ballet flats – will you also consider them with the jacket?

    1. I wouldn’t wear the Varinas with it, they don’t have enough bulk. Seems it requires a substantial shoe for balance. Button-front, yes, maybe so. So much exploring to do:).

  8. You certainly rocked it out!! Bad a** indeed. I love the no tattoos on the face dress code. Hysterical! A whole new side of you. Very chi chi.

  9. I am just an occasional commenter, but I wanted to say your jacket is lovely. And frankly if you live in SF you need a bit of bad-***ery in your wardrobe!

    1. It’s mutual. All I did here was put some clothes on:). You cook, write, have a job, have a kid at home…

  10. First off, I love love love your hair! But as a middle aged woman I don’t understand this fad of motorcycle jackets. I have a motorcycle (a Vespa) and a license to drive it and I don’t have a jacket like this. I do have several real motorcycle jackets with armour in them, but they are nylon in bright colors so I’ll be seen by others! I wouldn’t wear them casually.

    To me these jackets are costumey. I guess that’s ok, if you like that sort of thing.

    1. I think that clothing items that start out utilitarian (think Doc Martens, Red Wings, overalls) always look costumey to the people who are the authentic market. Just like Ralph Lauren looks completely preposterous to my father, who grew up in space similar to those Mr. Lauren likes to picture.

  11. I bought a biker jacket in kelly green leather. I returned it. The style just doesn’t work for me – I need a longer jacket.

  12. Just transfer your face, hair and full body to me, and I’ll wear that outfit happily, even here in Florida, in the heat. Meanwhile, I have preordered those GLORIOUS shoes.

    ps Remember back when you said skinny-leg jeans just on you? and that we needed to stop pushing the subject? ahem? ahem?

    1. Ahem. These are as skinny as I can go. And these are technically 1969 fit. Narrow, not tight. Still, point taken.

  13. You live in SF. You work in an office where a suit and stilletos would raise eyebrows. You are slim. You CAN get away with this.

  14. You look good wearing red lipstick.
    But – I don´t like biker jackets on ” adult ” women. Never had, never will.
    Perhaps this has to do with some cultural matters.
    Women over here, wearing biker jackets are considered ” free prey “.
    The same goes with leopard and snake prints on textiles and accessories.
    I would not like to considered as such ; ).

    1. Interesting. Here biker jackets would signal the opposite. Especially with oxfords. Such cultural variants. I would hate to be considered as such;).

  15. Ha – love the Very Tough Face! Better a motorcycle jacket than an actual motorcycle. Just don’t get one in red. :) I think you look great.

  16. I think it’s just perfect. I noticed the lipstick right away and thought it was exactly the right detail, although those jeans and oxfords are also critical parts of it all. Question about the outfit: I assume you don’t wear the jacket around the office. I love a plain white tee as a layering piece, but then if I had *only* the tee on in my office, even a nice tee like that, I’d feel a bit too unlayered. Just my problem, and you embraced the plain white tee as officewear? Or did you have a cardigan or something else at the office?

    1. This is so often what I wonder with a lot of great outfits I see. When it relies on a jacket as a key piece, what happens when you get inside and the jacket must go off? It’s where I get stuck because I love jackets and I love basing outfits around my favourites … but once I’m at work I feel underdressed.

    2. I do wear the moto jacket in the office. It’s light, and no warmer in situ than a blazer. I too wonder about the white tee at my age, perhaps a subject for another post.

  17. Wow,you remind me of the women I see hanging onto their biker boys waists as they speed down the highways!

    The pearls add the soft touch.Ida

  18. Love the jacket. Seriously love it. (I’m a bit concerned you might have some VPL going on in those jeans though. Sorry, had to mention it since you seemed open to suggestions. Hope you don’t mind!)

    1. Yes I saw that! The jeans are so thick I don’t think it’s VPL, more like a crease from my hands pulling in my pockets, but yikes!

  19. LOVE IT. I’m 43 and have been wanting a biker jacket. I left BigLaw last year to start my own practice and today, with meetings finished for the week, I am wearing dark teal nailpolish too (on very short nails). Conformity be damned, that’s what I say.

    For those of us who sort of wish we were Joan Jett in our alternative life, I think this is a fine idea. I’d need to lose weight to pull it off well, though (goody, a new motivator).

  20. First of all, love the look, if the investment on the jacket paid off in versatility I would buy one too, but alas! More interesting are the jeans, GAP?? Wow! I’m going to try them out!

  21. Well, Lisa, I am MUCH older than you, and I am a big fan of motorcycle jackets…
    I think it depends on one’s attitude! I am taking the liberty of linking to my blog, wherein I made a shiny black moto jacket that I LOVE!

    1. Oh my gosh! You are SO talented! I can’t believe the things you are able to sew. And you look gorgeous in that jacket.

  22. Of course you can! You are.
    Love the pearls with it. Just a bit of softness there to take off the edge. I think pearls go with everything- the more offbeat the better.

  23. Uber biker chick Katie Sagal as Jemma in “Sons of Anarchy” can rock the jacket. As a Sturdy Gal myself I can’t carry it off.

  24. Wowee!! You look Fabulous!!! The pearls are perfect – you rock this. Plus you have that look in your eye in the first photo like you are up to something fun!

  25. You look Amazing! Spot on with the hair and not wanting to look like ‘trying too hard’. Red lipstick: divine. I have been vacillating re: a biker jacket and I am sooooo getting one!
    Love love love your work!
    You are really an inspiration.

  26. Hands down, my favorite outfit photo of you ever! And the lipstick- makes all the difference. I am now recommitting to my lipstick.

    Wow, Lisa. Just wow.

  27. Oh wow. You ROCK!

    After that rather admiring and totally heartfelt exclamation, the prosaics.

    Chicken are dinosaurs. Given the damned girls peck my toes if I can, the idea of them having teeth does not attract.

    Any-aged lady can wear a bkier jacket so long as it fits! I mildly regret disposing of my (proper) biker jacket some years ago, but it was rather heavy and I’m much better served by the light-weight fashion job. Far too thin to be good for protecting the hide in an accident, but I no longer ride, so not an issue.

    One good thing about the old jacket was the number of pockets – inside, outside, on the arms. (All the zip lacings? That’s to make them easy to grab while wearing gloves). See how many you have, and if you can pare down contents of bag. Otherwise, just for the look of it, the strap needs to be longer.

    Dress code at geek workplaces are pretty much the same in Australia, certainly in the backrooms. And loving the fact that summer is finally over and I can start layering again!

  28. I LOVE that All Saint’s leather biker jacket! I’ve been looking at it for a month now and it just looks SO amazing on you. I might actually have to buy it. Now, if only you could come to London so we could have a lunch date in our matching jackets!! You look PERFECT.

  29. Of all the looks you’ve modeled, this is my favorite. The proportions suit you and FINALLY there is the display of the good figure usually hidden under all that tweed and wool. Perhaps the inner rocker has been fighting all along to get out and kick some a$$.

  30. Your proportions are good for this look. It works very well. It suits where you live. I like the pearls with it. I’d change the purse, however.

  31. “The dress code at my workplace is Don’t Wear Tattoos On Your Face.” LOL!

    You look great, top to bottom, and really rock a sneer. You do need a back bag, though. One with a visible zipper or two. It won’t clash with the pearls if you do it right, which I know you can.

  32. Stylin’ & Profilin’! Your best outfit ever. What bold style! In my opinion, what makes this outfit work is your hair. It just wouldn’t look as chic if your hair were colored in any artificial shade.

    Please show us more about how to make bold yet tasteful fashion choices. Playing it safe is just too easy.


    1. I will have to experiment with bold. As you know, it’s not my native mode. We will learn together.

  33. You will get a lot of fan mail for this, it’s cool. In my neighbourhood you’d get cruised heavily by some very hot women.

    1. It is unquestionably a butch look. That’s why I spelled out my proclivities. I would never want to promise what I couldn’t deliver.

  34. I don’t agree with those against the BV bag. I think it works. Black would be too matchy matchy. IMHO :)

  35. Proud of you! High WASP or not, wearing black leather moto jackets for the first time at our age takes a sense of style and commitment to adventure!

    (I was planning, but forgot, to wear my Joe’s leather moto while vacuuming today – bought snug, it needs more wearing to truly becoming mine. . . )

  36. Super look. Everything goes together so easily. And the choice of shoes is great, not a boot, not too dainty either.

    As to fanged poultry: it’s funny, I always read by Rob Breszny because it’s not your usual fare and it does give you a little story or conundrum to think about every week. In my sign’s yearly forecast he mentioned that alligators and chicken had the same ancestors long ago and that 2013 would be the year the “chicken parts” of my personality would grow teeth.

    I’m working on it and when it finally gets warmer I’ll be sure to break out my navy biker jacket…

  37. Oh, Wow – you look fabulous! It’s so interesting to find that many of the comments reflect those of a certain age group who actually love wearing leather. I’ve had a simple leather and knit jacket for years, but recently wanted something completely leather. Couldn’t decide what, so instead of buying a really expensive jacket for the nonce, discovered “Forever 21”. Have gotten two rather stunning “leather” jackets – one black and one white. I’m going for the light pink one next and I’ve gotten tons of compliments on the first two. “You Rock” being the most said and in a silly way, most appreciated.

    Glad to know there’s a huge group out there finding ways to dress it up a little, in a fun way.

  38. I am new to your blog and I absolutley love, love, love this look! I look for opportunities to wear my black moto jacket but often wonder that folks may judge “this woman of a certain age”, but I don’t care. I feel empowered, strong, a little rebellious and, yes…feminine. Bravo on a great post.

  39. My Munro booties would look great with that outfit!

    Love the jacket. And with the pearl earrings just a little ironic.

  40. I think any age woman can wear a bike jacket. I am well into my “middle age” and I wear one most of the time. I also ride a motorcycle and wear the skinny jeans and heels. Who are we to let people tell us what we can and cannot wear and be comfortable and happy in?

  41. You knock this style out of the park! You can, you did, you do and you will — and you make me want to, too! This is such a brave, fearless look on you, and all of the details are just so right. Perfection!

  42. You look totally fantastic! You own it!
    I can’t believe some of the questions posed re what a woman over 40 should wear. It’s enough to make me rebel! :)

  43. Love the jacket, the jeans, the shoes, and your attitude. I found the link to this on my blogger pal Amber’s (Butane Anvil) post. I would be completely comfortable wearing that entire outfit. It’s all about how you style the jacket – I found the comment about how middle-aged women wearing biker jackets are considered “free prey” where the commenter lives amusing. I wear a lot of leather – mainly skirts but some pants, a couple of dresses, and jackets, and I don’t think I’m viewed as “free prey” but perhaps I’m just oblivious ;)

  44. You look pretty badass to me! It actually took a lot of soul searching for me to be comfortable in a dress. Eventually shaving part of my head gave me enough bad-assitude to feel comfortable in a vintage ‘ladylike’ dress.

    I can’t imagine a life where I spend so much time thinking ‘am I young/old enough’ for this. We only have so much time! Live it up.

  45. Lisa, you are lovely and fierce in this outfit, just fiercely lovely! As Forest City Fashionista mentions, I referenced your post in mine today –

    Amazing genuine jacket, and so right together with the mono-mix of other classics: pearls, hairstyle, jeans, T, oxfords. Your hair is a gorgeous colour, and lucky, lucky you to go shopping with Audi, another tremendous blogger whose cool and brilliance I greatly admire. Cheers!

  46. The biker is my off duty staple. I’d rather be buried in one rather than stop wearing it because someone else decides I’m too old. Love how you’ve styled yours – awesome post and this is an awesome biker jacket (I might be making a trip to All Saints after this!)

  47. I just had to get in on this conversation. I love the look but perhaps I’m biased. I ride my own Harley and wear biker jackets on a regular basis. I’ve never thought that it might be inappropriate or strange. Most people are surprised that I ride (I’m 61 and don’t fit the image of “biker chick”), but really, it’s the most fun thing I do! All ladies: go ahead and wear the biker jackets, but if you get the chance, ride your own bike. Gotta admit that by wearing the biker gear and hearing the rumble from my bike, I feel a little bada**!
    Heather from Friendship, Life and Style

  48. Lisa… just found your site… no sure how!! You look really great in the biker can ride on the back of my BMW any time (if you come to the UK)
    class always shows not matter you wear. Now you just need the leather trousers as well !!

  49. I love this look and you wear it so well !….This would be just the thing I would choose to wear but would be worried whether or not I would be judged for not dressing appropriately for my age. After seeing your photos I wouldn’t hesitate to run out any buy one of these jackets (I have wanted one for ages !) and if I look half as good as you I would be satisfied.

  50. came upon this page accidently! but enjoyed it! i’m a crusty old male who rides motorcycles from time to time but rides Japanese crotch-rockets partly because of the cultural costume-party that riders of Harley-Davidsons (et al) seem to be embracing. the highways are filled with stock-brokers (who else can afford the 80K HD?) and of course, they all resemble some kind of iteration of the young Marlon Brando.
    waitress to Brando: “what are you rebelling against?”
    Brando: “whatta ya got?”
    a friend of mine has a motorcycle accessories shop and does a rip-roaring trade in fake ponytails and tattoos. businessmen who’ve built up their pecs and biceps in the gym, buy them to complete the rebel-ly look. nice.
    thought i’d suggest to you that you experience the complete biker-chick look. lose the pearls, get some trashy hoops, for G-d’s sake let your hair down and don’t forget to tease it! fake eyelashes and make ’em big and have a t-shirt on under the jacket and spill a drink on it! now you’ve got it!
    go out in the world and see if the reaction is different from the leather’n’pearls look.
    love your page


  51. You don’t drive a bike – you ride one. Sorry. Just can’t help it.

    And I do have a biker jacket and I will carry on wearing things I want to wear until such time as I’m too old to choose my own clothes.

  52. I certainly hope that middle-aged ladies can wear biker jackets! Especially as some of us are actually “bikers”. While I agree that black leather has certain social aspects, there is little to prevent anyone from pulling off the Fonz with careful accessorization. It’s those of us who “have” to wear the blasted things that don’t always take care to add the extra touches.

  53. True love (at least for me) is riding down the road on my motorcycle and seeing the special woman in my life with a big smile as she rides her bike next to me. Regardless of what she wears!. But I do love the black leather look!

  54. You look AMAZING. I have a cream biker jacket that I wear all the time (I’m 46). I also have black leather jeans; never worn together I hasten to add. I soften the look with more feminine pieces. I’m not trying to be young; It’s nothing to do with age, it’s about your own personal style and knowing what suits you. My friends say I have a bit of RocknRoll in me, which I’m flattered by. I’m going to have to get a black biker jacket now..!

  55. i’m late to this, but just wanted to say that you look FIERCE. love love love the simple tee + jeans + biker jacket with pearls and a red lip. you know my love for leather jackets, they are much more versatile than they appear :)

  56. Saturday March 23 NYT online Style highlights biker jackets via Bill Cunningham video.
    Bill Cunningham and Amid Privilege great duo.

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  58. You look fab! I was wondering how tall you are? I’m about 5’10 (shrunk an inch sometime in the last decade). A lot of jackets are short in the sleeves for me-do you find the All Saints Jacket a good fit? I was thinking about ordering one and than voila, there you where. It looks wonderful on you. Love your blog.

  59. I found this blog because I have, in a bag, a Whistles bike jacket .
    I love it, I want to wear it but I don’t want to look ( as we say in the UK) like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ or ‘tarty’….personally I think I look OK but this that as I live in a conservative part of the country it may be frowned on…

    Perhaps I need to come to see my relatives in SF and wear it then!

    You look absolutely fab I have to say, it could be your build, it could be your look..don’t know..but brilliant!

  60. I am dying laughing right now…..why am I JUST discovering your blog?! I am 49 years old and love fashion and read fashion blogs. I was getting tired of the totally perfect-starbucks-in-hand 20 something blogs out there wondering where the heck is the fashion blog that understand that my lipstick bleeds now that I have wrinkles on my mouth? I googled, “bloggers over 40″……and there you were. Reading your posts just made my day and I would totally wear a biker jacket – you rocked it! Thank you for the great inspiration! You have a new fan :)

  61. I believe in wearing whatever you like, whatever age you are. I have three biker jackets in my wardrobe and I’m almost 50! Guess what? I think I rock them :)

  62. OMG. I mean it – OMG.

    Before I risk the gushing that comes first to mind, I will take your mother’s good advice and just say, “Thank you.”

    I, a bona fide middle-aged lady, have, from time to time, trotted out my old (sorry, I mean vintage) biker jacket, pairing it, by turns, with tee-shirt and jeans, indian gauze wrap around skirt, or black pencil skirt. It never occurred to me that I was being either inappropriate or particularly fashionable until I hit 50. Suddenly, the whole issue became far more philosophical than I had thought possible. Who knew the truly big questions in life would be so utterly trivial and yet so horribly weighty? Not me. Now, by purest accident (while searching for interpretations of “Wings of the Dove,” believe it or not) I find this marvellous blog on which someone actually addresses the subject of biker jackets on middle-aged women. Geez, I guess the internet really IS a miracle after all.

  63. Good Question…

    Even middle aged women can try such outfits…

    It is up to us that how do we carry ourselves, rest every style is ok..

    Thank you for sharing this post with us.

  64. Only mistake I see is the bag. Matronizes the ‘look’, IMO. Nonetheless, love your blog so far.

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