I NEVER imagined in all my life that I could turn into Cary Grant. No, not in the sense that I’ve metamorphosed into a handsome, debonair sophisticate with the smoothest of voices and even smoother ad-libs. And we certainly never attended the same charm school.

But a new connection has formed; Todd McEwen once wrote the amusing short story Cary Grant’s Suit, a satire focusing on the perfect Savile Row two-piece the film star wore in the classic film North By Northwest.

In tracing the suit’s journey, the story offered insight into the psychological make-up of the actor himself.

I never imagined for a moment however that the purchase of a leather jacket could result in a similar essay in exploration and existentialism, asking the question; are we what we wear?

And more pointedly, should someone who has a bus concession pass once fancied Petula Clark and can remember Rawhide even be allowed to wear a biker jacket? The wonderings and worries begin exactly a year ago . . .

I AWAKE one day, stricken, out of the blue, with a clothing desire unfelt since the need to have a pair of animal track Wayfinders shoes back in 1966.

All I know is I need to wear a biker jacket, just as badly as Cary Grant needed to have his suits Savile Row tailored, just as Burton needed Taylor. Just as Taylor needed to wear diamonds the size of Cary Grant’s grin.

What prompts this jacket desire? I try to find out by reading the online comments of fashion designer Matthew Miller. “Biker jackets are a very purist symbol of rebellion and freedom,” he writes. “They are iconic and manage to transcend subcultures and time.”

If that’s true, and I’m not arguing, am I trying to rebel? I don’t think so. Baby boomers just get a little moody from time to time. And while biker jackets may transcend time, I’m not sure I’m likely to transcend anything other than a tricky metaphor.

I ditch the psychology for the moment to address the practical, to wonder what type of leather jacket I could see myself wear. The option range is immense and I’m forced to recall the ominous words of writer AA Gill. Gill once warned to be extremely cautious of clothing when reaching mature years: “You can’t wear clothes with a practical application after the age you would realistically be expected to perform the job their designed for.”

He was right. I’ve got to factor in that I’m not going to ride a heavy motorbike again, so I don’t need to emulate Brando in The Wild One and buy a jacket that’s as thick as a Triumph’s tyres. Nor am I set to flee from Germans across Bavarian fields like McQueen in The Great Escape, so I won’t want a little bomber jacket.

And it’s almost a given that I’m unlikely ever to pilot a plane so my leather jacket won’t have a fur collar. I certainly won’t be moonwalking or caging wild animals, so lurid Michael Jackson or Tiger King styles and colours are out.

As for sheepskin? Well only John Motson, or Penny Lane in Cameron Crowe’s cult movie, Almost Famous could every carry that off.

Instinctively, I know to avoid certain types of leather jackets; nothing of length, which reminds of Tony Soprano or a supporting actor in a Guy Richie film. The jacket can’t be too aggressive either, suggesting a Ramone or a Danny Zuko. I just don’t have the sneer.

Esquire magazine agrees with Gill I have to be very, very careful of my choice. “Leather jackets, in the wrong hands, can be a style disaster: a little bit silver-convertible with-cream-leather-interiors, a little bit ‘Mum's not coming back, Dad’.”

This is getting more complicated than I could have imagined. I need to choose carefully then, but where? The quest begins, looking in shops, boutiques, big stories, online. Even at websites across the States. Nothing hits the mark; the collar is too wide, the jacket too long. Too flash. Too many buckles.

The answer descends one morning however, just moments after ascending a Newcastle-bound train where I’m set to interview Sting. Thinking ahead for the mag feature pics, I’m checking out online images of the Geordie boy and discovering the 68 year-old is wearing a leather jacket which looks uber cool.

It’s dark brown and biker-lite. It’s the sort a Hell’s Angel might wear if he were a fan of musical theatre. It’s the sort of jacket which would offer the wearer protection only against a gentle summer breeze, or if they fell off their hog onto a thick sheepskin rug.

It’s tight and short. In short, it’s perfect.

I begin to try and source similar. (I know; I should have asked Sting where he got his, but the interview captured the mind.)

I check out countless clothing websites, shops in Glasgow, nothing. Undaunted, I search out Ronnie Smith, a one-time pop star with The Beatstalkers turned leather craftsman who made me a great (bomber) leather jacket some 35 years previously. I find Ronnie, still going strong, but he doesn’t make jackets anymore. (Only does repairs.)

Undaunted, and inarguably daft, I expand my search and discover a bespoke leather jacket maker who just happens to live in Ludlow, a little market town near the Welsh border. A six and a half hour drive later, I’m giving the genial Martin Pryce (another ex-rock guitarist) my measurements and leaving him to it.

Yet, now comes the time for the introspection and worry about why I needed to wear animal skin on my back. By chance the following day I’m watching the Simpsons and my fear of looking ridiculous is staring right back at me in cartoon form.

Homer is riding off on a bike wearing a leather jacket, shouting to the family: “Remember to rebel against authority, kids!”

Am I, like Homer, a two-dimensional clown, a rebel without a clue?

But if a leather jacket on an aged back can’t look cool, what’s the cut-off point? It goes without saying that Sting is clearly an exception, given he’s an ageless Geordie god. But are you too old at 40? Or 50? Or 60? Can you take the grandchildren to McDonald's wearing James Dean? Could a Sir Captain Tom feasibly wear a leather containing poppers, studs and cross body zips?

The self-doubt is cranking up. In the search for support I turn to the online thoughts of top American fashion stylist Ashley Weston, who is discussing BJs (biker jackets) on her forum.

But I don’t get any. Weston is in fact giving men of a certain age who were leather bikers a hiding. “Clients who are 45-plus should seriously avoid them because wearing them makes it look as though you are having a midlife crises,” she says in a “don’t-even-think-about-it you-sad-bas****” voice.

Weston adds; “Even when you get to the bomber style it still looks you are trying too hard to be young – and this look does not compliment your ageing appearance.”

Her solution? Forget leather. “Go for something softer, like suede or denim and embrace your age. And remember, your wardrobe should compliment that age. We don’t live in the Easy Rider age anymore.”

This rage against the aged and their garment preference is revealed again online where I’m discovering that La La Land star Ryan Gosling is taking a social media leathering for having the affrontery to wear a biker leather jacket. “At 39, the Canadian actor is way too old to wear tanned hide on his film star back,” declared the fashion police.

Oh no. How can this be? Further reading reveals that even Ewan McGregor isn’t impervious to leather criticism, having committed the crime of stepping out in LA, with his new girlfriend, wearing matching biker leather jackets. McGregor is just 49 and easier on the eye than Optrex.

I’m at a loss. I’m now seeking reassurance from a friend whom I just know will be supportive. ‘You’re getting a leather jacket?” he says, laughing at the news. “Is it in buff yellow? Do you realise you’ll look like an elderly confirmed bachelor?”

I’m now wondering hard about my sartorial decision making. What’s my real motivation for buying this dark brown jacket? Is it really about self-deluding into believing I’m younger – and thus more attractive – than the birth certificate – and the mirror – would suggest?

I’ve certainly been reprising some teen reading these days; Catcher In the Rye, I’ve gone back to the first series of Bewitched on DVD and the Dick Van Dyke Show on YouTube.

Shakespeare’s view of the last stage of man was: ‘A second childishness, and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.’ Am I currently sans brain cells?

Psychology Today, it seems, is suggesting something along those lines. “Baby boomers; if we wrinkled reach into middle age with style and verve, well, wow, the entire Western world might rethink the need to search for a fountain of youth,” says the report.

“Most of us, however, don't seem to have found that sense of contentment with our aging bodies that we expected to. Instead, baby boomers have both masterminded – and fallen victim to – an anti-aging epidemic far more virulent than the average case of mass hysteria.”

So I’m an epidemic-fuelling hysteric, am I? The Wall Street Journal appears to sympathise with my affliction however. “As life expectancy increases and gender roles continue to evolve in society, trying to hold on too dearly to ‘manly’ stereotypes can lead to painful, lonely and difficult years for men as they age.”

So I’m buying a biker leather in order to hold onto my manliness? “When one’s body or social position and income generation can no longer reinforce those feelings, increasing feelings of helplessness can ultimately take a toll on one’s mental and physical health.”

Wow. I had no idea the purchase of a jacket which costs a week’s wages was about fear of reduced income and position. Reading on, I learn it could be related, ultimately, to thanatophobia. Fear of death.

It seems I don’t want to die so badly I need to look as though I’m unlikely to. I’m not Cary Grant at all. I’m Ursula Andress in H. Rider Haggard’s She. “Ultimately, it comes down to a feeling of a loss of control,” says assistant professor Laura Hsu, whose research explores the psychological process of aging. “The norms of masculinity have an undercurrent of being in control and having some element of power.”

My physical norms have certainly shifted. But so what if I’m trying to re-define what it means to be old? My grandfather never even had his 60s. He never got the chance to live much past the chance to see his daughters marry and have kids, never mind afford a very nice jacket.

There’s another argument for the biker jacket, I make to myself. The generational barriers aren’t really as high these days. Men can wear jeans into a ripe old age, can’t they? We’ve moved on. We’re not living Brief Encounter lives anymore. No one expects a man to wear a shirt and tie for dinner. We don’t all need to wear car coats. What’s wrong with looking a little like a Geordie rock star?

And can’t the older woman wear a biker jacket too? Not according to veteran fashion writer Sarah Mower. "Everyone past the age of 40 needs a 'mutton monitor'," she declares. “Should one of our [older women] number be tempted to revert to Suzi Quatro mode, she'd just have to be stopped.”

Mower adds; “The rock chick mantle must always be passed to those in their 20s. Fact. Even Kate Moss [mid-Forties] will be pushing the mutton-button with that one any minute now."

Now I’m depressed. My buff-jacket friend suggests I check out the Italian short story for help. And it’s powerful stuff. Cesare Pavese’s The Leather Jacket is an emblematic rites-of-passage tale in which a young man realises the sexuality of an older woman via the leather jacket she wears.

The jacket is a weapon when worn on her body. The unzipping process a technique to reveal all a female has to offer – and deny, if she so choses. The jacket is a powerful motif for the sexual psychology played out in the pages.

There we go! That cheers me a little, because I love the idea of a woman of certain years looking sexy and feeling in control. And who could truly argue that biker jacket lovers such as Debbie Harry, Jane Fonda or Michelle Pfeiffer are in any way mutton?

So if women of mature years can wear them, I tell myself, why can’t men throw out a little sexual energy? Thankfully, Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman agrees. “I think you can wear anything – it depends how you look in it," she says. "The only time you possibly shouldn't wear a leather jacket is in your coffin.”

But now I’ve got the endorsement, what seems to be emerging im my head is I don’t need it. I agree with Linda Grant in the Guardian who wrote; “We loathe, and are frightened of, the idea of dressing old, for to dress old is to have someone to take you at face value: that you are old.”

However, having looked at all the arguments, for and against the senior person’s sartorial choice, I’ve come to understand why I have to have the biker jacket.

While Cary Grant’s suit revealed the actor to ‘be’ his suit, to be defined by his stitching, his perfect cloth and neat lapels, that’s not the case with the leather jacket at all.

The truth is I don’t really feel old. The truth is don’t want to be subversive or inhabit a subculture and I’m fairly sure my fears of loss of manliness and death to be no greater than that of the next man – or woman.

I just fancy one.