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Biker versus moto: Which is which?

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There are two types of the riding jacket that has permeated the world of fashion. The much-revered biker jacket, which first landed on the backs of stylish lads and lasses about nine decades ago when Irving Schott designed the Perfecto, named after his favorite cigar, in 1928, is the more established motoring-inspired garb of the two.
However, like military jackets, neon satchels and culottes, the biker has reached its point of diminishing returns. In other words, while a true classic, this particular jacket design has grown into something that’s increasingly hard to pull off throughout the seasons because it’s become cheesy. The forward-looking arbiters of fashion, together with the common folk on the street, have grown tired of it. The moto jacket is the it-jacket to wear now. But what’s the difference?

While both worn by riders, the biker is the kind you associate with Harley Davidson, Hell’s Angels and Marlon Brando. It is characterized by the asymmetrical cut on the front where the zip teeth meet, leading to a pronounced, V-shaped collar with four buttons or so to keep it from flapping in the wind.

The biker’s middle-zipping cousin borrows its design cues from motocross, hence the deliberate decision to take the name even though both have something to do with motorcycles. The moto is a more modern, more functional and less fussy relative of the biker. It paints a picture of speed even at a standstill, perhaps because it was mostly worn by people who rode sport bikes before designers decided to hijack it. The zipper closes all the way up to the collar, which goes around the neck and snaps into place with a pair of buttons. It would reach a height where there would be little to no gap between the collar and the helmet. It can be the same color as the traditional renditions of the biker such as black or tan, or it can be a bright, striped number that pays tribute to its roots in racing.

Despite the similarities, there are differences in what you can and cannot wear with the biker and moto. Due to the ubiquity of the former, it’s become completely acceptable to wear with either a white V-neck tee and ripped blackish jeans or a shirt, tie and slim-fit trousers. The moto, meanwhile, means more business. It has not completely breached the wall that divides the realm of sport uniform and typical everyday dress, so you’ll need to approach this one with arguably more caution that you would a biker. I won’t recommend specific items and restrict your options, but suggest that you maintain a sporty-racing theme so you don’t look like you actually rode a 400 cc Ducati to get there.

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