How to Wear Leather Leggings Without Looking Ridiculous (PHOTOS)

reese witherspoon wearing leather leggings in NYCJust when you thought leggings were the ubiquitous style you couldn't live without, the must-have item is now, hands-down, leather leggings. No, not just on rock star style mavens (think Gwen Stefani) or Victoria's Secret models (Behati Prinsloo). Reese Witherspoon stepped out in leather leggings earlier this week, which was definitely a departure for her, given that her style is typically classic and preppy. And yet, she looked amazing! Turns out, we all can.

I know, I know. You're probably thinking that the curve-clinging pants only work if you're long and lean or have an edgy sense of style, but the truth is that anyone can rock the look without looking ridiculous -- simply by following a few smart styling tips!

leather leggings

Check out our 10 expert suggestions for making leather leggings work for you, then tell us: Do you consider #2 a rule of thumb when wearing leggings?


Images via Allan Bregg/Splash News & Kaspars Grinvalds/shutterstock

  • Don't Rest Until You Find the Right Fit

    1

    Just like Goldilocks, some leggings may be too big or too small, but it pays to keep looking until you find the pair that is just right. "The fit is EVERYTHING!" emphasizes Kendall Farr, fashion director and co-founder of PersonalShopping.com. "Whether leather or good quality faux leather, you want a fit that is snug, but not so tight that you have unflattering bulges."

  • Go for Paneling

    2

    If you want to flirt with the trend rather than fully commit, there are fantastic options out there with a leather (or faux leather) panel instead of full leather leg. Bonus: Leather panel leggings are especially flattering. "The panels help break up the width of the legs, causing them to appear thinner," explains wardrobe consultant Diane Pollack of Stylempower. One to try: BCBG's Shelby Contrast Faux-Leather Legging ($138, BCBG.com).

  • Mix Up Your Textures

    3

    When it comes to what to wear on top, especially in the coldest months, consider a look like this one from Express, featuring their Scuba Legging ($59.90, express.com). "Leather looks great with textures," explains Pollack. "So pair with all kinds of sweaters or fur!"

  • Think Like You Do When You Buy Jeans

    4

    When scouting a pair of leather leggings, use the same criteria as if shopping for a pair of jeans, says celebrity wardrobe stylist Suzi Grgurich, who has styled Amy Adams, Dianna Agron, and Melissa McCarthy. "Whatever style of jean you like to wear, that's what you should look for in leather leggings," Grgurich says. In general, Grgurich likes leggings that have a zipper and button as opposed to an elastic waistband, and notes that the established denim makers -- such as J Brand -- generally make the best ones. "They keep their structure and shape better," she explains. 

    One perfect example of jean-like leather leggings: LOFT's Modern Coated Skinny Moto Jeans ($74.99, LOFT.com).

  • Avoid Bagging

    5

    This baggy look Selena Gomez is a fan of? A whole different story. If you want to go for sleek, chic leather leggings, "bagging blows your look!" says Farr. "So do some deep knee bends, sit, twist your torso from side to side. The waist should stay put. The knees should hold their shape, and there should be a smooth skim fit over your bottom." 

  • Pair With a Flowy, Long Top

    6

    If you're more of a pear shape (smaller on top, fuller on bottom), you can "wear a top or sweater that clears your bottom," advises Farr. "A longer length menswear-inspired shirt also works well." One to try: This Trouve Silk Blouse ($74, nordstrom.com).

  • Don't Go Too Long or Too Short

    7

    For a daytime look, "wear your leggings long enough so that they meet the top of an ankle boot -- with at least a 2" heel -- to look longer and leaner," advises Farr.

    Or for a night out, "leather leggings with a simple black pump make the leg look like it's going on forever," says Grgurich.

    One example: Target's Faux Leather Detailed Legging ($22.99, target.com) with pumps!

  • Consider Layering

    8

    Just like sweaters or flowy tops work to break up your look and create a flattering silhouette, so too will a blazer or a long cardigan (like Charlize Theron, pictured here). "In this case, your top underneath may be a little shorter or tighter," explains Pollack. "[But] I would caution against a leather top or jacket as leather on leather can be too much."

  • If You're Going to Go for Real Leather ...

    9

    ... you're probably going to spend more, of course. But if you plan to wear these pants for years to come, and they're the perfect fit, you might feel it's worth a splurge. "Lamb leather is the best quality," notes Farr. "Brands like Alice and Olivia, MICHAEL by Michael Kors, and J.Crew are always on our radar."

  • If You're Going to Go for Faux ...

    10

    ... you'll definitely have an array of options that are more budget-friendly, like these Club Monaco Tasha Leggings ($99 on sale, ClubMonaco.com). ASOS and TOPSHOP are also worth a look, says Farr.

    The bottom-line with faux: "The more like a real leather the pants look,
    the better," says Pollack. "And matte is a safer bet than some of the shinier versions that can appear young and sometimes tacky."

trends clothes

More