Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 22 September 2020

Fashion notes: The leather diaries

How to do leather without being a rock star.
Louis Vuitton. Rex
Louis Vuitton. Rex

There’s a fleeting month (or two, if we’re lucky) when the Middle Eastern sun relents and allows us to delve into heavier fabrics without looking like we’ve spent an afternoon in a slow cooker. Velvet, tweed, mohair, brocade, leather and all those other sumptuous fabrics normally beaten into submission by the sun, your time is now.

Despite the varying levels of taste – think engines, stilettos, an overabundance of flesh and, well, the 1980s – leather has always hovered somewhere around the periphery of the Middle Eastern wardrobe. A staple the world over, we often struggle to find ways to experiment in the bludgeoning heat. Let’s face it, the thought of wrestling with a pair of leather drainpipes in the sticky months can be more than a little overwhelming. Not to mention that it’s a difficult one to wear well – leather, generally speaking, makes even the most impish of figures appear larger.

Sharp, structured silhouettes, such as tunic dresses, boxy jackets, A-line skirts and sleeveless waistcoats, were seen across the runways from Paris to Milan this season – noteworthy collections coming from the likes of Moschino, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Tod’s. In terms of pairing, think elegant jumpers in a loose knit, plain chiffon and strong masculine brogues with no socks. The key is to not see too much of it: small accents that enable the minimalist look to shine.

Remember that all-out rock-star leather isn’t necessarily our key to cool. For while the bondage dress with garish zippers may look great on a Kardashian (and that was just North West), visualise it fitting into real life. If Aerosmith is your pop-culture reference, perhaps it’s time to hang up the boots.

That’s not to say there aren’t ways to work the trend without mockery. Three-quarter-length skirts are often underestimated and overlooked, because of the somewhat unfair “mature lady” implications, yet worn with smart flats and a buttoned chiffon shirt, they can look surprisingly elegant. The same goes for mixing a simple, mid-length, slightly fitted skirt with a prim cashmere jumper and minimal jewellery.

Remember, though, when combining sweaters with mid-length leather skirts, make sure to tuck the jumper in neatly to achieve the necessary waist definition.

Unless you have the proportions of a Victoria’s Secret Angel, cut-off trousers tend to be more flattering than full-length, as are cropped jackets and three-quarter-length sleeves. If all of this is still a little fear-inducing, try mixing your fabrics: a sleeve detail here or a trim there will add a preppy accent with the added bonus of making it more suitable as ­daywear.

Outerwear will complement a leather skirt beautifully, from a classic light trench coat to a longish linen-mix jacket over a plain, good-quality cotton T-shirt.

Always keep the rest of your outfit simple: there’s to be nothing “stick-your-neck-out” about the new modern take on the look. Gone are the days that leather screams “come hither” (if you want fuel for that fire, remind me to introduce you to leopard) – once we liberate the rather staid requirement to be sexy, it will come into its own.


Updated: January 15, 2015 04:00 AM

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