Tuesday, 25 September 2012

How to Wear... Leather

When I say leather, I do mean pleather (but it just doesn't sound as chic does it?!) - it's cheaper, can look just as good as the real thing, doesn't smell and isn't made from Old MacDonald's friends - what's not to love? Unbeatable for adding drama to any look, whether you tend towards heavy metal, vintage chic, sports luxe, oriental flower, boy-meets-girl, or 20% of all of the above - here followeth a few of my favourite looks and new season picks.

The Trousers
The Shorts
The Skirt
The Top
The Dress
The Jacket

The Trousers

Classic leather skinnies give a rock-chick-diva edge to any ensemble, and are great for giving a twist to tailored, feminine or casual separates. I like to team mine with a monochrome chiffon shirt and bow tie for a strong, feminine take on tuxedo-style androgyny, an obi-belted kimono and lace-up boots for a Geisha-meets-warrior feel, or a loose knit or band tee for a casual look with added oomph.

Trousers: Primark (Past Season)
Shirt: Primark (Past Season)
Bow Tie: Primark (Past Season)
Kimono: Primark (Past Season
Obi Belt: ASOS (Past Season)
Boots: Peacocks (Past Season)

For evening, they look great with a contrasting statement top and killer heels - a long, voluminous one like Kim's is great for disguising hips and tums, and a lighter shade minimises thighs.

Photo: thefashionspot.com

The Shorts

Like leather trousers, leather shorts look great with tops in contrasting styles and fabrics - black shorts lend themselves to a sharp, rock chick look, teamed with studs, spikes and fringing, whilst chocolate brown is softer and pairs perfectly with pale neutrals and feminine shapes and fabrics, such as lace (see this post). For AW, a long sleeved polo, opaque tights and heeled loafers make for a simple but elegant look, especially when dressed up with feminine jewellery and detailing, like these statement ruched shoulders.

Shorts, top, shoes and necklace: All Primark (Past Seasons)

The Skirt

Leather neatly and cheekily subverts classic skirt shapes, such as the pencil and skater, for a butter-wouldn't-melt/ladylike-meets-dominatrix vibe. Great for evening with a sexy-but-sophisticated top (think peplums, Baroque embroidery and sheer panels, like the one in the next section), but don't rule them out for day either - try teaming with a slinky knit in a simple colour palette for vintage-chic-with-a-twist (below), doubling up on your leather (see next section), or pairing with a sloppy tee or sweater, metallic tee or bomber jacket (see here) for a sports-luxe feel.

Skirt: Topshop (Past Season)
Jumper: Primark (Past Season)
Collar: Freedom at Topshop
Shoes: Peacocks (Past Season)

If you haven't invested in your own pleather pencil yet, pop this gorgeous George at ASDA number, £14(!), into your trolley next time you're nipping in for a pint of milk.


And after searching since last AW for my perfect pleather skater, I let out this week's first gasp of delight when I picked up this one from Primark today, for just £12! It has a beautifully full, structured shape - one of those "even better on" buys - can't wait to style it up!


The Top

A perforated airtex/liquid leather-style T-shirt gives sports luxe a dramatic spin, and looks great half-tucked into jeans with studded boots and a statement waistband-skimming multi-strand necklace for a more casual sports-rock look, or doubled up with a leather skirt or shorts for optimum wow factor.

Top: Primark (AW12)
Skirt: Topshop (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (Past Season)

More structured leather tops, such as peplum styles, are great for evening, teamed with a leather pencil skirt or skinnies, or with contrasting fabrics such as velvet or denim. Go for full-on leather, or mix with sheer panels and embellishment, as in this stunning River Island example - it just needs a skinny waist belt to hide the join between the peplum and main body.


The Dress

The leather shift dress is a great style-up-or-down AW staple. Fit 'n' flare styles are more forgiving and more likely to fit adequately off-the-rack than bodycon styles, although a perfectly-fitted fitted number could stun.


I'm keeping an anxious eye out for these two dresses from Primark's new collection to drop - they'll look fab with chunky tights and boots, a blazer and hat for day, and killer heels and statement belts and necklaces for evening.


The Jacket

No homage to leather would be complete without a word or two on the biker jacket - you can see four of my five-strong collection here, here and here. Don't feel you need to stick to classic styles, or black - cropped, embellished, metallic, coloured and stylised versions can all bring something different to a look - they can feminise and glamourise, as well as toughening up and toning down.

I must admit I'm not a huge fan of the leather-sleeved denim/parka/trench hybrid, but they're certainly not in short supply right now if that's your bag (and I may be eating my words at some point; I usually do eventually after swearing off a certain trend).

A final word of warning: You can find a leather jacket to go with almost any outfit, but beware if already sporting a leather-clad derrière - full on Hell's Angel is not necessarily a good look (although contrasting colours and/or styles could work) - try a blazer or cape for a sophisticated feel, or a statement bomber for a casual/sports-luxe vibe.

Tomorrow: How to Wear Velvet


See more posts featuring leather here


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