Updated September 20th, 2019 – I love a well-cut suit as much as the next Bond-fan. But I have to say: vintage sportswear also holds a special place in my heart. That’s where pieces like the Steve McQueen waxed motorcycle jacket come in.
What is it about vintage outerwear that I find so appealing? It’s hard to put my finger on. I definitely find the history behind heritage brands like Barbour and Belstaff fascinating. And because I spent a good portion of my younger years climbing, hiking and kayaking, I certainly learned to appreciate well-designed, bombproof clothing. Trust me: when’s it’s -30 on day three of a week long climbing trip, a zipper blow-out can ruin everything.
Then there’s the legacy these early designs have left behind. When you check out a book like The Vintage Showroom (or visit their website), you quickly realize that very little about these jackets has changed over the last 80 years. You can also see how vintage military outerwear and civilian sportswear continue to inspire brands today. The earlier designs were just that good.
If I had to sum it up, I would say what I like most is that these pieces perfectly bridge the gap between “utilitarian equipment” and “stylish clothing”. They’re designed to be used … hard. And the more beaten up they get, the better they look. I’m sorry, but (IMHO) you can’t wear a new jacket like this and look “cool” or “stylish”. It’s the wear and tear that tells the story. And that not only gives the jacket character. It’s also a reflection of YOUR character. In the end, isn’t that what “style” is all about?
The Steve McQueen Waxed Motorcycle Jacket
Well, there are two. At least we can be certain about that. Here’s the story as I understand it.
Barbour was the team sponsor for the International 6 Day Trials in East Germany in 1964. And so, as a U.S. team member, McQueen wore their A7 jacket. Most of the iconic pics of McQueen wearing a waxed motorcycle jacket come from that race. So he definitely did wear a Barbour.
But rumor has it (and many websites claim) that McQueen actually preferred a Belstaff jacket for personal use and wore that brand in many of his other races. One of his favorites was a Trialmaster, a model that comes both with and without a belt. What we do know is Belstaff bought one of McQueen’s personal jackets at auction in 2006 for $35,000.00. And the jacket they bought did not have a belt.
And then lawsuits ensued, and blah, blah, blah. Basically a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with looking cool.
All you need to decide is this: do you like the jacket with the belt or without?
Features wanted for the Steve McQueen Waxed Motorcycle Jacket
- Heavy (10 to 12 oz) waxed cotton in black or dark brown
- Almost 3/4 length cut
- Short lined collar with strap and buckle closure
- Four bellows style pockets with brass snap closures. For the sake of accuracy, the left chest pocket should be on an angle.
- Belt? No belt? I’ve included both options below and I’ll leave it to your personal preference.
Best Options for the Steve McQueen Waxed Motorcycle Jacket
Pros? Just about everything, including the price and the fact it’s sitting with 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon after forty reviews. Cons? Some reviews state that the fit in the shoulders is kind of tight and the cut around the waist is a little loose. The fabric is 12 oz waxed cotton and all the hardware is brass. Those of you in the UK can order from Amazon, where it’s also available in Brown for £69.99. If you’re in the States? You can go directly to the Speedwear website to order one for $87.29.
Vedoneire 3050 Wax Jacket: £102.99 to £159.94/$175.00 to $189.99
Do you find the belt-less style more appealing? Then this alternative from Vedoneire is definitely worth a look. I actually own this jacket. And after more than three years of steady use, I love it even more. The quality is amazing for the price and it’s breaking in very nicely. HOWEVER … it’s definitely cut on the trim side. I ordered a medium and there’s no doubt it’s a slim fit. But that works for me.
The links above go to Amazon UK/U.S. But You can also order the Black or in Brown directly from Vedoneire. That’s what I did and I had no problems. Shipping from Ireland to the U.S. was quick (about 5 days) and there were no extra customs charges. Plus, the customer service at Vedoneire was really nice and very helpful.
Like the belt but want to skip the collar strap? Here’s an affordable option from Walker & Hawkes. The outer fabric is 100% waxed cotton with a 100% cotton tartan lining. You’ll find sizes small to XL in stock on both Amazon UK and U.S. And if brown isn’t your color of choice, it’s also available in black for $110.95.
Game Speedway Wax Motorcycle Jacket in Black or Brown: £79.93 to £89.99/$130.49
A made-in-the-UK (I think), 12 oz waxed cotton jacket that’s modeled after the Belstaff Roadmaster and Barbour A7? For less than £100? Sounds like a good deal! Especially when you consider the two poor reviews on Amazon are about the cut of the jacket, not the quality. Seems like it fits a little on the large size. Which should work for you bigger fellas out there. The jacket comes in brown or black (click here for the black one if you’re in the U.S). And Amazon is stocking sizes small to XXL.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter weight, check out the Game Technical Continental Belted Jacket in black or brown for £63.54 to £69.99. It’s still a 12oz waxed cotton, but it doesn’t have the lightly quilted lining. Sadly, this one is only available in the UK.
White Stuff Derwent Waxed 4 Pocket Jacket in Brown: on sale for £116.00/$184.00
White Stuff changes things up a bit by going with a 72% polyester/28% cotton outer shell fabric. Not as historically accurate. But it will probably help a little with water resistance. The jacket also has a half quilted, half shearling inner lining. So it’s definitely made for cooler weather. That sale price is only good for about another 24 hours. Which means if you want one you’ll need to act fast before the price bounces back up to £145.00. UK sizes XS to XXL are in stock on their website.
Peregrine Bexley Jacket in Gunmetal: $209.00 (ex. VAT)/£205.00
Coming to us from the fan-favorite Mason & Sons, the made-in-England Bexley is kind of a hybrid shooting-motorcycle jacket, combining elements of both designs into one utilitarian piece of outerwear. And since it uses a 6 oz. waxed cotton, it’s definitely on the lighter side. Which should make it a great choice for warmer fall days or those of you living in milder climates. Sizes small to XXL are in stock on their website.
Orvis Stretch Wax Moto Jacket in Brown: on sale for $229.00
This is kind of an interesting one. The outer fabric is a stretchy cotton/Spandex blend which should help with your range of motion. They’ve also added fire fighter style metal clips instead of snap buttons to close the front placket. Which is a fun style detail. The overall jacket design definitely doesn’t stray too far from the standard model. But it’s just different enough to stand out from the crowd. Plus it has 4.7 stars out of 5 after twelve reviews, with the one negative feedback focusing on the fit but praising the quality. Orvis has sizes medium to XXL in stock.
A clean, minimalist option from Banana Republic. The outer shell fabric is a 59% cotton/41% nylon blend and they’ve applied a water-resistant coating for extra protection. The use of a drawstring at the waist instead of a belt keeps the style fairly streamlined while still allowing you to give the jacket some shape. Sizes XS to XXL are available.
If you wait around for sales, you can usually find some solid deals on Barbour International wax jackets.
About as close to the 6 Day Trials A7 jacket McQueen wore as we’re going to get. Made from Barbour’s 6 oz. Sylkoil waxed cotton, it has all the style details we want, but in a more contemporary, slimmer fit. Aphrodite1994 has sizes 40 to 46 in stock.
If you’re looking for a heavier version in the A7 style, check out the Barbour Icons International Waxed Jacket at Saks 5th Avenue for $575.00.
So what does the extra $375 buy you? A removable fleece liner and the cool “Steve McQueen” patch on the left shoulder. Other than that, the specs are almost identical to the International above. Macy’s has the navy blue version in sizes small to XL in stock.
Belstaff Trailmaster in Black: $526.00/£450.00
Supposedly McQueen’s favorite jacket model. Like the Barbour, it’s made from a 6 oz. waxed cotton and uses brass hardware throughout. Believe it or not, the best price I could find in the U.S. was on Amazon. You’ll find sizes 38 to 46 in stock there. For those of you in the UK, Luisa Via Roma seems to have the best deal at the moment among the reputable dealers. But if you happen to be a size 42 or 44 and don’t mind dark navy instead of black, you’re in luck. Zappo’s has those sizes on sale right now for $312.75. You can also take a look at this season’s Burgundy model at Matches Fashion for $490.00. The color is actually nicer than you’d think!
Did we miss one of your favorite alternatives for the Steve McQueen waxed motorcycle jacket? Tell us about it in the comments! And if you’re a fan of the King of Cool’s style, don’t forget to check out our Steve McQueen Fall Style post! You can also visit our Facebook page, Instagram account, Twitter account and Pinterest Boards for more James Bond style advice and inspiration!