The “bomber jacket,” originally known as “flight jackets,” were created by the U.S. Army Aviation Clothing Board in 1917 to keep World War I pilots warm in the uninsulated, open-air cockpits of the early fighter planes. These heavy-duty pieces featured high wraparound collars, zipper closures with wind flaps, snug cuffs and waists, and some were fringed and lined with fur.
It was between the two World Wars that flight-jacket design evolved alongside aviation advancements. With cockpits becoming closed, narrower, and encumbered with technology, new styles were introduced— namely, the U.S. Army’s leather Type A-1 in 1927 and the A-2 in 1931. The styles had knitted waistband and cuffs, which not only insulated the jacket from cold air but also gave it a particularly flattering fit, sitting high on the waist.
Also with origins dating back to the 1930s is the U.S. Navy’s G-1 style, designed to parallel the Air Corps’ A-2. The G-2 was produced until 1978, when the U.S. Congress canceled it due to its tremendous popular appeal, which was overwhelming the Navy’s supply system.
The jackets have become symbols of honor, adventure, and style, with Hollywood films like “Top Gun” and the 2022 blockbuster sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick,” putting the bomber front and center for fashion aficionados and collectors alike.
We’ve rounded up a selection of bomber-inspired jackets and apparel from several Park City-area boutiques, sure to help you rediscover this always-in-fashion trend, just in time for this winter season.
Talia Jacket by Sea-NY
For an unexpected and feminine take on the bomber, the Talia Jacket provides a whimsical version with a vintage, quilted aesthetic featuring floral, bandana-print fabric in baby blue and pink. Navy-and-red starburst quilt accents give the jacket an Americana charm while the solid-black ribbed cuffs, waist and baseball collar bring that letterman-jacket vibe.
The Talia Jacket is also a piece that is distinctively Sea — combining that vintage feeling with more modern, clean styles that create quietly inviting and elegantly balanced pieces. Sea is known for its spin on classic silhouettes with its distinctive use of lace, embroidery, knits, and technical fabrics that result in collections that are at once both effortless and romantic.
Stripes Galore Bomber Cardigan, Delicate Brioche Cardigan by Maiami
With their defined wrist cuffs and waistbands, clean necklines, bell sleeves and cropped lengths, these hand-knitted sweaters are the softest versions of the bomber that we’ve seen this season. The bold stripes and eye-catching color combinations of the “Stripes Galore Bomber” make this fluffy mohair cardigan a standout all winter, while the delicateness of the “Brioche” cardigan gives it a super luxurious feel. “Brioche” refers to a special kind of knitting stitch that adds an extraordinary three-dimensional depth to this design.
The cardigans are representative of the Maiami brand, which brings a modern perspective on the traditional craft of knitting. Their modern aesthetic is represented in Maiami’s distinct style, which features unexpected colors and combinations, and luxurious yarns. Each of their hand-knitted products re ects the time and care invested in creating beautifully crafted products with luxury that’s rooted in the handmade.
Women’s Tilly Jacket by Parajumpers
Designed to elevate your “every day,” the Tilly Jacket is a luxurious hooded puffer that features a high-shine finishing and diminishes all fear of the elements in style. Constructed from a high-density taffeta and windproof nylon with water repellant treatment, this bomber is filled with insulating duck down and features elasticized cuffs and hem, a full-length zip front, drawstrings at the hood, and the iconic Parajumpers tab at the neckline. Pair this oversized bomber with a comfy activewear set and trainers for a sleek yet functional look.
Inspired by an encounter with a serving member of the 210th Rescue Squadron, who are highly trained for extreme rescues and recoveries in the wildest, most remote and hostile corners of the globe, the Parajumpers brand prides itself on innovative outerwear collections with highly technological components, “created with passion to upskill your life.”
Upcycled, one-of-a-kind jackets
Taking advantage of two fashion trends at the same time, jackets from local makers Mary Mertes and Ann Erickson are often authentic military issue and have the added bonus of being upcycled. The real-life sisters and Utah residents call themselves “Salvaged Sisters,” giving a nod to their family ties and mutual love of thrifting, which they were both able to embrace upon retiring from “corporate America” in 2021. But while their jackets might be enjoying a second life, there’s nothing second-rate about these wearable creations.
For the “Silk Dragon” jacket, the green canvas shell is actually the top half of a military flight suit, remade into a jacket with cashmere cuffs and matching cashmere waistband. Silky, Asian-print appliqués and accents from a long robe that was cut to showcase the beauty of each piece. The blue trim also is from a deconstructed military jumpsuit, with additional trim pieces from a deconstructed Indian saree, and a vintage Boy Scout patch for added flair. For the “Quilted Beauty,” the thrifted black jacket is adorned with plaid fabric from an available remnant, parts of a deconstructed military backpack, a piece of a military blanket, several military patches, and topped with hand embroidery.
All Salvaged Sisters designs are one of a kind, and Mertes estimates it takes 2-3 hours for the creation process for each jacket followed by 6-10 hours of labor. Current inventory is constantly changing and found online at salvagedsisters.com, although custom ordering options are available and include personalizing the jacket to include a favorite color, hobby, band, or sports team.
Women’s Esla Bomber Jacket by prAna
You don’t have to be a maverick to wear a bomber jacket, but you’ll always be on-trend. And no more so than while sporting this uber-stylish Esla Bomber Jacket for women by prAna. Known for their sustainably sourced and fair-trade certified apparel, prAna is a brand you’ll feel good about wearing—and this is a jacket you’ll feel good wearing everywhere.
Throw it on with leggings for a chilly morning, or pair with your favorite jeans. This jacket is made from earth-friendly materials that lessen the load on our planet, even while delivering water resistance and plenty of performance.
Jacket details include a center front zip with ultra-suede pull tab and rivet, rib-knit collar, bottom hem and sleeve cuff, zip-entry hand pockets with brushed tricot lining, hanger loop, recycled plastic bar logo, PFAS-free durable water repellent (DWR) and bluesign® approved materials.
Women’s Rock Bomber Jacket by RH+
The perfect jacket for this winter’s slopeside après-ski gatherings, the Rock Bomber has a seriously fashion-forward cut featuring a slightly cropped hemline, a leaner fit through the core, flattering bell sleeves and an asymmetric zipper. How cool is that? And don’t worry— this insulated bomber is just as well-suited for the slopes as it is apres: It’s waterproof, has a snow skirt, is seam sealed, and is w-a-r-m. RH+ prides itself on using technical, high-performing materials while also bringing elegance to its designs.