This post addresses what to look for when shopping for leather clothes. Read about the types of hides, which leather is best for clothes, and how you can tell that leather is good quality.
- Leather Clothes Are Investments in Your Wardrobe and Style
- What Are the Different Leather Types?
- Which Leather Is Best for Clothes?
- What Is Good Quality in Leather Clothing?
- What to Consider When Buying Leather Clothing
- How Can You Tell That Leather Is Good Quality?
- When Not to Invest in Leather Clothes
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
Leather Clothes Are Investments in Your Wardrobe and Style
Leather clothes are to me sort of what the security blanket is to Linus. As a kid I had a pair of Lederhosen. I loved them because I could do what I wanted in them without getting into trouble. Sliding down a dirt hill? No problem! Building a little hut out of my granny’s briquettes? 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.
Thus, with respect to leather my style evolved just to more grown up pieces. Read how you can look posh in leather over 40. Leather clothing is very versatile. When you are daring you may even wear leather-on-leather like a power suit.
What Are the Different Leather Types?
Hides for leather clothes can be from calf, lamb, deer, cow, buffalo, caribou, reindeer, elk, moose, even pig, just to mention a few. The different leather types also vary by the way they were 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 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.
Nubuck leather is top-grain cattle leather. It was sanded or buffed on the grain side to obtain a velvet-like surface.
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, suede is just a finish, and not a variety of leather. Sometimes suede stems from the inner splits of a hide. Most common are cow and pig suede. Suede skirts, shirts, and jackets are very popular as they look more elegant with their velvet-like finish. They are also easier to get away with at the office than nappa leather.
Which Leather Is Best for Clothes?
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 very resistant to wear and tear and perfect for jackets and coats.
Deer leather items last for a lifetime. They may become a bit stiff over time. This means that with a lot of patience you can make the pants nearly stand all by themselves like Bavarian Lederhosen or thick motorcycle pants. Those kind of pants must have a stiff, tough hide because these pants serve 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, thick for coats or protective gear.
What Is Good Quality in Leather Clothing?
All leather pieces except Bavarian Lederhosen should have a lining. Otherwise the pants’ legs “dye” your legs. You would have a hard time removing the dye off your skin. Bluish legs from dye are never in style. 😉
Speaking of lining, carefully wash the lining at the crotch by pulling it away from the leather. Make sure to not accidently wet the leather during washing and drying.
What to Consider When Buying Leather Clothing
Before you invest in a suede piece think twice when you are often around small kids. Suede sucks up all kind of dust and dirt. While it is fine to brush the dirt off a kid’s suede Lederhose, you can’t get away with it as an adult. It is hard to find an expert cleaner. Moreover, many leather cleaners refuse to clean suede as its color might change in the cleaning process. Furthermore, there are limited possibilities how to remove stains safely from leather.
How Can You Tell That Leather Is Good Quality?
When you buy nappa clothes look for garments with hardly or no signs of wrinkles. Areas with a lot of wrinkles are of low quality. An aspect of what to look for when shopping for leather clothes is that the hides are attached in a stylish manner like in the maxi skirt or sheath.
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.
When Not to Invest in Leather Clothes
Don’t buy leather when you don’t love the scent of leather. While the scent gets less with time, it will be around like a decent perfume whenever you wear it.
Not sure whether to go for real or faux leather? Read what you should know about faux leather.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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