What Do I Need to Know Before Investing in a Pair of Leather Pants?

You'll get as much milage out of them as you do from your moto jacket. We promise.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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You'll get as much milage out of them as you do from your moto jacket. We promise.
Photo: Imaxtree

Photo: Imaxtree

In our latest column, "Ask a Fashionista," you can solicit our strongly held opinions on everything from how to wear a midi skirt without looking like a tree stump to whether a certain retail CEO should go ahead and resign already. Have a question? Email us at ask@fashionista.com.

Q: I want to invest in a pair of leather pants this season. Since it's a pretty expensive purchase, do you have any tips about styling and shopping for them that I should consider before pulling the trigger? — Ashley, New York, NY

The chill in the air is an undeniable sign that fall is upon us, which means one thing in the fashion world: it's leather weather. Moto jackets have been a closet staple among the style set for years, and slowly but surely, another leather wardrobe item is gaining popularity, and that's the leather pant. It's one item that can instantly elevate your look, and it's surprisingly easy to style — something you'll quickly realize after browsing street style photos from Fashion Month (see above and below).

Purchasing a leather piece can be a daunting task, as prices rarely dip below $500 when you're looking for something of high quality. So, to help sort through the stressful decision making process, we consulted the design team and J Brand — an industry favorite when it comes to leather pants — about what you need to know before taking the plunge.

Photo: Imaxtree

Photo: Imaxtree

1. Start with a simple style, like a black leather legging. When shopping for leather pants, a quick Internet search will pull up an impressive variety of styles: trousers, skinnies and jogging pants (a la Kanye West), to name just a few. The team at J Brand suggests going with a classic, slim-fitting style for your first pair, mainly because they're easy to wear and will go with everything in your closet — much like your beloved leather jacket. Once you feel more comfortable with wearing leather, you can try branching out into a more fashion-forward style, like a slouchy leather boyfriend jean.  

2. Material and fit are the most important things to consider. When buying leather, it’s all about quality — which will essentially determine the piece's durability — so now is not the time to go for the cheapest option. Some labels make mixed-material leather leggings that feature panels of leather paired with rayon or other fabric, so you can get the look (and quality leather) for a bit less cash. 

3. Keep in mind, leather does stretch out. I learned this the hard way with the first pair of leather leggings that I purchased at a sample sale when I first moved to New York — I can still wear them, but they're not as sleek-looking as they once were. Seek a snug fit, but don't go down a size when buying a pair.

4. Take the time to find a cleaner that specializes in leather. Now that you've made your purchase, it's time to take care of it! Not any dry cleaner will do, and you should do a bit of research to find a cleaner near you that specializes in leather cleaning. Get your pants cleaned when needed, but we wouldn't recommend sending them in too often — this might shrink them a bit, and leather cleaning can be expensive. My cleaner, for example, charges at least $30 an item.

Now that we've covered the basics, get out there and start shopping! Once you find a pair you love, you'll treasure it like you do your beloved motorcycle jacket. We promise. Shop some of our personal picks below.