How to wear leather this year and look modern at 50+

Discover how to wear leather at 50+.

How to Wear Leather and Always be in Style?

Sandy knows how to wear leather in Grease.

Leather has long been a fashion trend that comes back almost every fall/winter season. I’m always reminded of Sandy, played by Olivia Newton John, from the movie Grease, and her transformation into a sexy diva in her oh-so tight-leather pants and biker jacket. I later learned she was sewn into those pants and dieted to keep that look, while filming. You can look beautiful, sleek and trendy without the painted-on leather pants and diets. She forever solidified leather as a staple in women’s wardrobes, and if you don’t have any leather, maybe it’s time to add a piece to your existing closet. It’s a great way to shake up a soft dress or blouse. By simply mixing  in leather you can toughen your style while adding some interest and staying warm. Leather is durable, lasts for years and is luxurious. If you follow these few simple rules, your new purchase will have longevity in your wardrobe.

How to Wear Leather at 50+

  1. Keep the details on your leather jacket, skirt or pants to a minimum. Avoid patent leather, too many rivets, zippers, snaps and embroidery. These details not only detract, but eventually will date the garment.
  2. Fit is the most important rule when trying on anything leather. It cannot be too tight, nor too baggy. It needs to fit properly, like a well-tailored suit.
  3. Avoid pleating and gathers around the waist or front. It’s just too thick of a fiber and will add unnecessary volume.
  4. When thinking about buying your leather garment, pick a neutral color that coordinates with most of your wardrobe. If you predominantly wear black shoes, pick a black leather jacket, or brown if that color suits you better. Light-colored leather gets dirty and is challenging to maintain. Make that your second or third leather purchase.

Not sure leather is for you? If vegan is your lifestyle, not to worry, there are plenty of faux leather and ultrasuede jackets, skirts and pants that will work.

Leather or Suede Shirts

Sleek and have an unexpected look since the style is typically a classic shirt. They are usually made of a lighter-weight leather or suede, making it a great transition piece from summer into the cooler fall months. These leather tops have all the details that a regular shirt would have, button up the front, buttoned cuffed sleeves and possibly a small breast pocket. When wearing a leather shirt, fit is everything, like with all leather.

It’s not a jacket, but can be worn as outerwear, and should not be too baggy. I love the idea of a gathered top sleeve or possibly a small pocket detail on the front, but just keep those sweet, additional details to a minimum. They can be worn as a top, or opened, showing a colorful camisole or graphic tee underneath. It’s a traditional look using a nontraditional fiber, making this look fun, fashionable and on-trend for this fall.

Need to know how to wear leather? Try a stylish leather shirt.

EQUIPMENT – Garcela Leather Shirt, $550 

Leather shirts can be a modern take on a classic piece.

Anthropologie– Suede Shirt Jacket,  $230

Biker Jackets

An iconic silhouette and a great choice. Many labels are remaking this style while keeping the traditional look, but simplifying it. They are James Dean cool and toned down for a more modern and approachable look. You can’t go wrong with a slim-fitting biker jacket, they have been around since the 50’s and are not going out of style anytime soon. I love the look and always have a form of this silhouette in my wardrobe. Biker jackets look terrific with full skirts, midi skirts, straight skirts, cuffed jeans, full legged pants, long draped dresses, prints, stripes — they’re very versatile.

If learning how to wear leather intimidates you, start with a classic jacket.

Boden – Morleigh Jacket, $398 (also comes in soft truffle)

Wearing leather is about how you pair it with other closet staples.

Free People – Washed Leather Moto Jacket, $420 (also comes in retro orange)

This faux leather jacket is a great transitional piece.

Ted Baker – TOPAS Faux Leather Collar Biker Jacket, $395

The puffed sleeves on this leather jacket add some "wow" factor.

Anthropologie – Petula Puff-Sleeved Moto Jacket, $160

>WANT THE LOOK FOR LESS? BlankNYC at Nordstrom’s has a whole line of faux leather or suede jackets from $100-$200

Fitted Blazer

Looks great in leather. It’s an unexpected fabric choice for a traditionally masculine style. A colorful thin wool sweater and chunky necklace looks terrific with a tailored leather blazer. Add a long straight or full skirt and the style is sweet, interesting and work-ready. It’s great to pair with jeans and a shimmery top for an evening out to dinner or downtown. For the weekend, nothing beats a blazer and graphic tee along with some comfy jeans.

Wearing a fitted leather blazer shows you know how to pull off a modern twist on a classic look.

Neiman Marcus – Theory Classic Leather Shrunken Jacket, $1,295

the button details on this leather blazer add a fun detail.

Neiman Marcus – Veronica Beard Cooke-Peak Lapel Leather Jacket, $1,295

Wearing leather can be as effortless as grabbing a simple, classic style.

Neiman Marcus – Elle Tahari Madison One-Button Leather Jacket, $998

Moto Jacket

Hearkens back to the days of Speed Racer. It’s the love of racing, sport and all things sewn for that purpose, translated into trendy wearable fashion. Again, another silhouette taken from menswear. This fashionable little detailed jacket has lots of sewing and tufting, just purchase one that doesn’t overwhelm the leather or the jacket. It’s an excellent choice for those who prefer a smaller, tighter fitting jacket, as the style tends to be more so. It pairs oh so well with baggy jeans, wide legged pants, and full dresses or skirts. The jacket should hit right at the waist. It’s an interesting fashion statement to pair this jacket with a feminine dress or flowing skirt.

Moto jackets borrow from menswear but give women a feminine shape.

Neiman Marcus – Blanc Noir Hooded Single-Button Moto Blazer, $159

The Aviator or Bomber Jacket

A classic jacket that has been around for decades, created in the 1930s. A looser cut and style. This jacket is usually made with several front pockets, cuffed sleeves and waistband, some having a faux fur collar and/or cuffs. Most aviators are sewn in rich brown or black leathers. They have several styles and sometimes look like a letter jacket. They can be more fitted like a motto jacket, or long hemmed to lay at the hip.

Aviator jackets offer a lot of versatility to how you wear leather.

Anthropologie – Marrakech Colby Jacquard Bomber Jacket, $150

Some Bomber styles offer shearling or faux-fur details.

  Sak’s Fifth Avenue – Maje Barton Shearling-Trim & Faux Fur-Lined Leather Jacket, $745

Short Midi Leather Skirt

This is not a mini. It’s an above the knee or slightly beyond the kneww, but nowhere near the lengths or lack thereof, that the mini is all about. It’s a skirt that can be worn pencil straight or A-line. A-line is particularly cool in leather or suede and can be worn in a plethora of fall colors. A-line skirts are pleasing and slimming for hips and thighs. A little pocket or snaps down the front add an extra fun detail. The straight midi in leather is a fantastic choice, since this type of skirt is best when substantial fabrics are used to keep its shape. It can be worn in the office and with a quick change of blouse is ready for a party or dinner reservations.

Long A-line leather skirts have a fabulous silhouette for winter with longer hemlines and colder weather. It’s a nod to the 1800s Victorian era and the 70s with a modern twist, when it is made of leather or suede. In a neutral dark color, it can be paired with bright colorful sweaters and fun denim shirts or jackets.

Leather pencil skirts offer a unique way to wear this material.

Sak’s Fifth Avenue – COLLECTION Leather Pencil Skirt, $495

Have you considered wearing leather in skirt form?

Net-A-Porter – THEORY Leather Pencil Skirt, $695

Leather wrap skirts offer another way to style this material

Net-A-Porter – Envelope1976 Sarajevo Leather Wrap Skirt, $685

A belted skirt offers a tailored approach to wearing leather.

Net-A-Porter – NANUSHKA Aarohi belted snake-effect vegan leather midi skirt, $495

Full skirts work for bold women who want to wear leather.

Net-A-Porter – Nili Lotan Lila Belted Leather Midi Skirt, $1,295

The pocket on this stylish leather A-Line skirt adds a unique detail.

Net-A-Porter – Acne Studios Ligrid Paneled Leather Skirt. $1,550

Leather Pants

A bold choice and why I write about it last. It’s a fashionable statement that can be a refreshing alternative to slacks or jeans. Minimal stitching with minimal adornments is better, with fit being the most important thing. They must wear more like trousers than leggings. This is the trick to wearing leather pants at 50. Too tight and we fall prey to the Sandy-wannabe look. Pair these leather pants with a crisp blue oxford and wool nubby sweater, then add a chunky rhinestone necklace to soften the leather look. Rhinestones not your soup du jour? Try pairing your ensemble with a chunky gold or silver chain necklace.

The idea behind knowing how to wear leather is that whatever you pair it with, always choose feminine or crisp accompanying garments, through soft draping materials, classic silhouettes or floral prints. Even accessories can be more dainty, such as pearls or rhinestones. This softens the harsh leather look and elevates the prints or classic fabrics, it’s a happy juxtaposition.

Leather pants should be fitted properly to pull off this look.

Sak’s Fifth Avenue – THEORY Leather Cropped Pants, $1,195

These leather trouser pants are a stylish addition to your closet.

Sak’s Fifth Avenue – 3.1 Phillip Lim Full Length Leather Pants, $1,395

This ageless generation can pull of any of these trends with aplomb, just as long as you know how to wear leather.



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