Real or fake, leather luxe is fashion's chic new body armour

Whether it's the real stuff or fake, leather luxe is providing chic looks from daywear to parties. Fashion editor Stephanie Smith has tips on how to wear, plus what you can buy on the High Street now.

Rose gold faux leather skirt, £55, by Elvi.
Rose gold faux leather skirt, £55, by Elvi.

There’s something confidence-boosting about wearing leather. It has the capability to make us feel tough, resilient, ready to take on the world. Like a fashionable form of body armour.

For this autumn/winter 2018, leather in all its guises is more fashionable than ever, having strutted its way across many an international catwalk, including Alexander McQueen (zipped and belted leather dresses); Loewe (ankle-length leather dresses) and Tod’s (belted leather shirt dresses), to name but a few.

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A real leather jacket, skirt or dress is certainly an investment piece, but one which can and will take you from work to parties in sharply impressive style. I’m not convinced about weddings yet, unless you’re going as a sort of wicked fairy godmother (and yes, I know that’s actually more relevant for christening and naming occasions, for which I cannot find any reason at all not to wear leather, especially if in a soft shade of pink or a baby blue).

Black leather popper front skirt, £139; blouse, £45. At

Leather has grown up for the new season, bringing us chicly tailored and seductive styles that slot with surprising ease into the winter wardrobe. The same applies to its less expensive (but not always cheap-looking) faux cousins, PU and pleather.

The simplest way to tap into the trend is probably with a skirt – and these, fortunately, come in all lengths and shapes to suit the wearer’s own shape and preferred style. There are above-the-knee, below-the-knee, mini and midi pencil skirts, especially in a lovely rich taupe shade, but also in shades of green and berry red. And black, of course, because there is always black, either sleek and sophisticated or embellished in some way, perhaps with rhinestones and studding, while quilted is also a look to go for.

But then there are also full, flirty skirts of volume, designed to make a statement with a silhouette more usually crafted in silk or chiffon. These really do look wonderful but obviously rely on fine and supple leather (or its fake equivalent) for movement and ease of wear. Check out the real leather full skirt from Sosandar here and also the deep red PU style shown here from Monsoon. This one is £60 but looks so much more expensive, and it going to work beautifully with silk blouses, fine-knit polo-neck cashmere sweaters and even neat tees (try a slogan or motif or embellished one).

The leather sartorial story is all about luxury and texture, so it’s no surprise that knitwear is a key fabric pairing. At Paris, Lanvin showed a below-the-knee, burnt umber, slim-fitting pencil skirt with a slight wrap front and a front deep slit, teamed with a slim-fitting, high-necked, long-sleeve, fine-knit ribbed top in a silver cream. The overall effect was highly sleek and luxurious, but it’s not the only way to go. On the High Street, the teaming of shiny, smooth leather and faux leather with oversized, chunky knits is a more casual and attainable way of managing textural interplay. Mixing in faux fur and silk, in animal print and bright tones, strikes a luxurious note . Irresistibly impressive.

Pink jumper, £15.99; pleather pencil skirt, £37.99; court shoes, £24.99. All at Bonprix.


October 27: Go Racing in Yorkshire Best Dressed Lady Racegoer Grand Final, Doncaster Racecourse.

Now to January, 2019: Catwalking: Fashion through the lens of Chris Moore exhibition runs at The Bowes Museum, Teesdale. see

Now-April, 2019: York Castle Museum: A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes, a touring exhibition from The Civic, Barnsley. See

Collarless PU jacket, was £35, Now £20 at Bonmarche.

Now to Oct 26: Himalayan Fashion exhibtion at Lotherton Hall, near Leeds. Discover sumptuous silk brocades and fine Kashmir wool shawls. Entrance to hall and grounds, £7.50 (adults).

Autograph leather trousers, £199; Limited Edition top, £39.50; M&S Collection bag, £25. All Marks & Spencer.
Red blouse, £45; deep red PU skirt, £60; slouch boots, £99. All at Monsoon.
Leopard coat, £69; roll neck, £10; rhinestone mini, £28. All at Dorothy Perkins.