Stay cosy—without looking like a sheepherder

A shearling jacket can be as warm as a puffer coat and, if you wear it right, as badass as the perfect leather jacket.

Think: Robert Redford in Downhill Racer in the ’70s, or Bane setting off mayhem on the streets of Gotham in The Dark Night Rises.
But if you’re not careful, you could end up looking more like an extra in an episode of Fargo. Follow these four steps to nail the right look.

Wear Real Shearling

Make sure your jacket is 100 percent real shearling—that is, sheepskin or lambskin with the short under-layer of wool still attached.

Fake shearling is not as breathable, says Men’s Health Fashion Editor Dan Michel, and it looks and feels cheap.

Good shearling jackets start at R3000, while premium ones will cost you upwards of 7,000. It’s steep, but it’s an investment you’ll carry with you for a lifetime.

To find a jacket on the lower end of that range (without resorting to a knock-off), look for a jacket with just a shearling collar.

Go ahead and turn up your collar to block wind, too.

“It’s one of the rare occasions when popping your colour is actually OK,” Michel says.

Try an Unexpected Color

A classic shearling, like the one worn above by fashion blogger Isaac Hindin-Miller, will never go out of style.

If you’re not into the western look, though, that’s OK. You can opt for shearling dyed in a dark hue like black, charcoal gray, or navy.

What to Wear With Your Shearling Jacket

The presence of a shearling jacket automatically elevates your entire outfit, Michel says. Just take a look at UFC fighter and Men’s Health cover guy Conor McGregor, above.

“What you pair under it can be a little bit more casual,” says Michel. We’d go for a high-quality T-shirt or a thin turtleneck against the high collar.

Jewel tones—burgundy is a fail-proof option—look rich against shearling. That applies to layering pieces, pants, and even shoes.

Just avoid pairing brown boots (or, worse, a brown hat) with a brown shearling jacket—unless, of course, you’re an actual cowboy.

Don’t shy away from incorporating a shearling coat into dressier looks. A sharp pair of black monk straps would look outstanding with any shearling jacket.

How to Take Care Of Your Shearling Jacket

A shearling coat will last for decades and, if maintained, will look better with every wear.

Before ever stepping out in your shearling jacket, make sure to treat it with a water-repellant spray.

If it does get wet, let it air-dry—high heat will destroy the fur—and then brush out any water spots with a soft-bristle brush.