Wearing leather leggings after 40 – this is one of those posts that specifically addresses an email from a distressed reader. When I published my autumn trends post a few weeks ago, Victoria emailed to say “I can cope with the demise of skinny jeans but what about the expensive leather leggings that I’ve invested in – am I going to look stupid if I carry on wearing them?” The short answer is no. All you have to do is look at the feeds of Parisian fashion editors to know that leather leggings are timeless.
As it happens, one of my highest ranking posts is a very old one – how to wear leather trousers after 40. I suspect that in addition to quests from women over 40 who are genuinely interested in wearing leather trousers, there may be some from spurious sources… however we’ll gloss over that. As I pulled leather leggings out of my newly minimal dressing room yesterday, Victoria’s question came back to me and I decided it was time to answer it properly.
[I’m just going to pause briefly here in anticpation of Mr MC’s snort of derision when he reads the words ‘newly minimal dressing room’ – our definitions of minimal differ dramatically].
From October to April, I wear leather trousers a lot. Why? I think it’s because of the message that they send. They add a certain allure to your outfit and at the same time they imply confidence. The key to avoiding the cougar look lies in ensuring that the rest of your outfit plays down any overt sexiness. The outcome you are aiming for is insouciant rather than siren.
My first pair of leather leggings were black and came from Hush just over a year ago. I confess that I wasn’t sure I’d wear them much at first. But then one morning when I was getting ready for work, I spotted them hanging next to my usual tailored crops and thought I’d try them for an office outfit. Suddenly my rather conservative monochrome look had a new attitude. It was a bit like adding a pinch of chilli to a favourite recipe and finding that it brings out a new set of flavours.
So, since then, leather leggings have become an integral part of my wardrobe and I have added a fab navy pair from Baukjen to my collection. Navy leather leggings are really hard to find but these are a joy to wear. They’re a great fit and luxuriously supple. I use them in place of indigo jeans to add an extra dimension to otherwise simple outfits.
Leather leggings work well at weekends too and are an obvious choice for a night out. If you are grieving for your skinny jeans, this is one way of keeping the look alive. So, given that the weather has been too bad to take any outside photographs for a while, I thought I’d do a ‘show and tell’ to give you a few ideas of how I wear them.
|This a no brainer workday outfit for me. The wrap blouse with its dipped hem at the back is easy to wear and this year it comes in a rich burgundy or black. Just make sure your shoes are updated to counterbalance a classic look.
The navy leggings are also available in black, berry and cream.
|Another simple work look, this time with a corset shirt that has definition at the waist, simple black buttons and feature cuffs.
The black leggings are also available in berry and forest green.
|This shows you the corset detail of the shirt
|Another easy look – if I’m wearing all black I tend to soften it by adding the unexpected contrast of contemporary pearls.
|Adding a coat or long cardigan often gives you flattering dimensions and the silk of this one contrasts nicely with the leather.
Cos silk damask coat (sold out); Cos green t-shirt SS17; Whistles Cornell suede heels SS17; Navy leather leggings
|When you’re dressing down for weekends simply add a chunky knit and pointed flats. This jumper is great for anyone who can’t wear wool because it is chenille so it is cosy but it doesn’t itch. It works really well with midi skirts too.
|This is a great way to wear this season’s chunky knits. I know all of the Instagrammers are wearing cable knit jumpers tucked into the waistband of their cropped straight leg jeans but you have to be very tall and thin to pull that look off well.
Hush have kindly sent me this jumper to show you – I love it and in my view, it is much better worn by a midlifer who has seen a bit of Rock ‘n Roll in their lives than a fresh young 20-something. It will be available at Hush soon and I’m looking forward to wearing it properly when the weather gets colder.
|And finishing with what I suppose is the iconic leather look – leather with leopard print.
Is there really a difference between leather and PU or coated leggings?
In my view, yes. I used to wear PU and coated leggings but it’s a bit like the difference between polyester and silk – when you’ve tried the natural textile you’re unlikely to go back to manmade if you have the choice. I find that leather is more breathable and that it shapes to your body – plus it doesn’t squeak when your thighs rub together (assuming you don’t have a thigh gap – which I don’t)!
However leather is clearly a big investment so if you’re looking for a good alternative, these are the most regularly recommended PU versions that I have come across and they’re available in black, navy, bronze and berry.
And with that I must rush – this was supposed to be a quick post but frustratingly the gremlins have been at work giving me a few technical headaches. I’ll be back on Friday.