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What to look for when shopping for leather clothes

midlife woman in fashionable maxi leather skirt
mature woman in long leather skirt
Oliveo long cherry red leather skirt, Shein abstract floral print top, Coach fabric bag, Studio gladiator sandals, thrifted silk scarf, and Winkwood mirrored sunglasses (all own)

In this and some following posts I will share some tips about leather clothes. When you follow this blog already for a while, you already know I love to wear leather. Leather is part of my signature style. Leather clothes are to me sort of what the security blanket is to Linus.

As a kid I had a pair of Lederhose. I loved them because I could do what I wanted in them and wouldn’t get into trouble. Sliding down a dirt hill, no problem! Playing with my granny’s briquettes and build a little hut out of them. No problem as long as I would put them back into place along the wall in the cellar. My Dad would just brush the dirt out. I wasn’t allowed to do that in my skirts or dresses, but in my Lederhose.

#leather toddler in lederhose
Me as a toddler in my first Lederhose that started my love for leather clothing

There are various hides from which leather clothes are made like calf, lamb, deer, cow, buffalo, caribou, reindeer, elk, moose, even pig just to mention a few. They are also various ways how the leather is tanned. When the smooth side of the hide is made hairless and turned to be on the outside (right side) of the clothes, the leather is often called nappa leather. Nappa leather can be made from all kinds of skins. Sellers distinct between natural, slightly pigmented, pigmented and sanded nappa leather. Nappa leather can have either the natural grain or a corrected grain.

Nappa leathers are very soft. Italian nappa leather usually has great quality. Deer leather is often a comparatively thick hide and can be sort of ‘stiff’. However, for coats a bit of stiffness may not be a bad thing.

Nubuck leather is top-grain cattle leather. It was sanded or buffed on the grain side to obtain a velvet-like surface. Nubuck leather is very resistant to wear and tear and perfect for jackets and coats.

midlife woman in maxi leather skirt
Oliveo maxi leather skirt, Shein short sleeve top, Coach fabric tote, Studio fall sandals, braided scarf, and Winkwood wooden sunglasses (all own)

In contrast to nubuck leather, suede leather was sanded on the flesh side, i.e. the inside of the hide, to obtain a velvety surface. Like nappa leather, suede is just a finish, and not a variety of leather. Sometimes it is made from the inner splits of a hide. Most common are cow and pig suede. Suede skirts, shirts, and jackets are very sought after as they look more elegant with their velvet-like finish. They are also easier to get away with at the office than nappa leather.

However, before you invest in a suede piece think twice. When you are often around small kids suede is never a good idea. While it is fine to brush the dirt off a kid’s suede Lederhose, you can’t get away with it when wearing a suede piece as an adult. It is hard to find an expert cleaner and the suede surface sucks up all kind of dust and dirt. Many leather cleaners don’t clean suede leather as it may change its color during the cleaning process.

When you buy nappa leather watch out for areas that seem to have a lot of wrinkles. This leather is lower quality than leather with no signs of wrinkles. the former is taken from the sections where the legs are attached to the body. You want to get leather that is showing hardly any or no wrinkles.

It is worth to invest in good leather clothes as they last for years. Some styles look even better with time (e.g. bomber leather jackets, black trench coats). Tan deer leather may change its color with time, which looks beautiful. Pleather clothes or covered jeans look cheap even a teenager. Especially when the coverage breaks with time. It looks plain trashy on everyone.

Deer leather items last for a lifetime. They may become a bit stiff over time. This means that you can make the pants nearly stand all by themselves like Bavarian Lederhosen or thick motorcycle pants with a lot of patience. The hide of those kind of pants must be stiff because they are made for protection. Hides for non-protective clothes are thinner and hence show nice movement. Thin leather should also feel soft, more like skin. Go for soft thin leather for skirts and dresses, medium thin leather for pencil skirts, jackets and pants.

All leather pieces except Bavarian Lederhosesn should have a lining. Yes, even skinny leather pants cut in a jeans cut should have a lining. Otherwise the legs get “dyed” by the dye of the pants. That dye is hard to get off your skin. It doesn’t look nice to have bluish legs from black leather pants without lining. 😉

Speaking of lining, I recommend to carefully wash the lining at the crotch by pulling it a bit out of the leather. Here carefully means making sure that the leather doesn’t get wet during the washing and drying process.

Don’t buy leather when you don’t love the smell of leather. While the smell gets less with time, it will be around like a decent perfume whenever you wear it.

It would mean a lot to me when you spread the word about these leather shopping tips by tweeting have a look at these great leather shopping tips! Thanks, I so appreciate your time.

Do you like leather clothes? Will you jump this fall’s leather trend? Do you have questions how to style it? Let me know about your challenges with leather clothes by email so I can help you.

Note that there will be further posts on leather clothes, how to style them and how to take care of them. You may have already a look at styling a leather top for Casual Friday or when you are daring how to wear two leather items without looking like a rocker.

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When you like the blog, you may also want to get my style recipe book How to Dress for Success in Midlife.  Buy the paper copy  now or go for the Kindle version.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

Copyright 2013-2017 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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