How to Style Faux Leather Leggings

how to style faux leather leggings

Faux leather leggings have been a fashion trend for several years (seriously I was discussing the style merits 0f faux leather leggings back in 2016) and they don't seem to be going away any time soon. In fact, I originally write this post in 2018 and am updating it for 2021 as faux leather leggings are still stylish. But what to wear with leather leggings, be they real or faux? Below I share how to style faux leather leggings for a range of personal style aesthetics and clothing sizes.

How to Style Faux Leather Leggings

sandy from grease how to style faux leather leggings

Faux leather leggings are a bold move, and not one that can be worn anywhere and with anything. One false move and you end up looking like Sandy at the end of “Grease” (no shade on “after” Sandy, that was my dream look for most of my tween and teen years). But let’s focus on the everyday…

How to Style Faux Leather Leggings for the Weekend

Keeping it real, this is the most popular way that I and most women I know wear their faux leather leggings. They're easy and comfy but elevate weekend basics so you don't look as though you're running around town in your pajamas.

how to style faux leather leggings

t-shirt | cardigan | sunglasses | necklace | bag | sneakers

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Oh the power of a pair of faux leather leggings… if the leggings were regular knit, this outfit would take a very different turn. But it's still super comfy and easy, but the faux leather gives it a bit of a rocker vibe and makes everything else feel super purposeful. And how fun are these Converse high-tops?

what to wear with faux leather leggings

loafers | hat | sweater | sunglasses | crossbody bag | earrings | earring cuff | smartwatch band

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Bad hair day? Throw on a beanie and faux leather leggings will make it look like a style statement, not a morning of struggle. A striped sweater is classic and is a nice contrast to the faux leather finish. Consider a pair of lug sole shoes as an alternative to sneakers – they can be just as comfy but give a more polished vibe. And this crossbody bag can hold all your essentials while the round shape adds a cool visual detail to any ensemble.

how to style faux leather leggings

How to Style Faux Leather Leggings for Creative/Business Casual

Not every office is the kind where a pair of faux leather leggings can work, but for those who have more casual or creative offices, there are ways to make them look chic, not casual or club.

how to style faux leather leggings by wardrobe oxygen

striped top | blazer | dog brooch | hoop earrings | scarf | loafers | bag

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I have last year's version of this J. Crew blazer and it's a relaxed fit and longer silhouette that works well with faux leather leggings and skinny jeans. I love the juxtaposition of tweed and Breton stripes with the faux leather; it fits very well with this fall's trends while also being quite classic. Speaking of classic, up the classic styling with a neck scarf, tassel loafers, hoops, and a traditional saddle bag crossbody. And how cute is this adorable pin? I just had to find an outfit where I could include it!

How to Style Faux Leather Leggings for A Night Out

how to style faux leather leggings 1

bag | shoes | blouse | hoop earrings | layered necklace | lipcolor | eyeliner

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Going out for dinner, or to a bar, or a get together at a friend's house? Want to be comfortable but also look polished? Can't go wrong with a pair of faux leather leggings with a blouse. This blouse has a bit, but not too much shine. Too satiny or sequined and you can look Vegas, too bright of a color and it can look dated. But a neutral or soft metallic like this one is elegant and feels festive without being over the top. Want a bit more drama? I cannot recommend these metallic liners enough; I own at least four. No need to have super skills, you dab it along your lash line and it adds a hint of sparkle that looks so fun without being extreme.

how to style plus size faux leather leggings

What Shoes to Wear with Faux Leather Leggings?

The easiest and most universally stylish choice is a pair of sneakers.  Whether they're trainers or a trendy pair, the juxtaposition of athletic gear with leather is quite chic and will steer you clear from “Sandy” territory.

This season, the lug sole shoe is on trend and can look quite good with faux leather leggings. Consider a lug sole loafer with no-see socks or a lug-sole lace-up leather boot with your leggings tucked inside. The juxtaposition of the sleek leggings and the chunky shoe is very modern while also harking back to the '90s.

If you're looking to dress up the leggings for work or evening, consider a pair of pointed-toe flats or a boot in the same color and similar finish to create a continuous line. A sleek boot that can fit under the leggings will look more dressy than one that is on the outside.

You may also like: the most wearable fall fashion trends for women over 40

What To Wear (and What Not to Wear) with Faux Leather Leggings

While you can wear whatever the heck you want and I will completely support you and root you on; if you're unsure how to style leather leggings here's some tips on what not to do to make them look as stylish as possible.

  • Don't pair your leather leggings with a leather jacket.  This will take you from “Sandy” territory to Leather Tuscadero territory. If you need to wear a jacket, consider a cargo jacket in a neutral like olive, a denim jacket, or a menswear-inspired blazer.
  • Balance the shine with other textures. Faux leather leggings with shiny satin or sequins are only appropriate in Vegas or on stage.  For every day, you want to temper the shine of leather.  Fleece, chunky knit sweaters, cashmere, denim, and angora are all great fabrics to pair with the leggings to keep the look luxe yet relatable.
  • Keep Jewelry Delicate. Big, bold pieces paired with shiny black leggings can end up being too much of a look.  Delicate chains, small rings, a single watch or chain bracelet, thin hoops or studs is often the best choice when styling leather leggings.
  • Don't Be a Trend Salad. Leather leggings are a lot of look, and usually looks best with more subtle of pairings. If the rest of your outfit is a bit quieter your leather leggings then can sing.
  • Think Contrasts Not Costume.  Some examples? Envision rocker leather leggings with a classic tweed or plaid blazer. Black leather with cashmere or angora. The shine of the leggings paired with chambray or a plaid flannel. The way to make faux leather leggings look great is to treat them as though they aren't leather; style them as you would a pair of skinny pants or ponte leggings and you'll have the best results and not look like you're wearing a costume.

35 Comments

  1. Lee
    September 15, 2021 / 7:53 pm

    While leggings of any type are not for me, I do love all the items you paired them with—especially the “vaccinated” t-shirts! I’m very tempted to get the one from Etsy in that first grouping you shared; love how it looks like typewriter print!

  2. August 31, 2020 / 3:07 pm

    On my..living in Florida I don’t get to wear them often and forgot I have them. Thanks for the reminder. I do look rather sexy in them!

  3. Carly
    August 31, 2020 / 8:30 am

    I loved the original post, and I love the update even more! Can’t wait to style mine this fall- I’ll be back to review!

  4. Carla Brecht
    December 6, 2019 / 6:09 pm

    So needed this…. thank you for continuing to provide valuable and real content. So much appreciated!

  5. Kate
    December 4, 2019 / 5:54 pm

    I love leather pants (jean style) but faux leather leggings are not for me. However, I love the way you’ve styled them in this post! I’d love some leads on good looking leather pants (skinny or boot cut) someday.

    • December 6, 2019 / 11:19 am

      So I am totally saving up for a pair from Pari Passu, they’re so chic! They’re sold out now, which is fine because I’m not able to afford them yet! https://paripassushop.com/collections/shop-all . For Misses, I think Vince leather pants are the best but they seem to be sold out most everywhere right now. Lafayette 148 also has an amazing pair http://bit.ly/2sPUPL7

      • DiplomaticDressing
        August 31, 2020 / 10:42 am

        I own the Lafayette 148 leather pants and they are fantastic. I’ve had them for 4 years so the cost per wear is low and they’ve gotten better with age. I love Pari Passu but I didn’t love the fit on their leather leggings to be honest, so I would make sure not to purchase if you can’t return. For a legging style, I love the Veda leather leggings from 11 Honore.

    • Rebecca
      September 15, 2021 / 12:22 pm

      I have a pair of faux leather cropped pants from Levi’s ribcage line that I love. Real leather is indeed a splurge, and I feel like I jump around with my weight too much to make it worth it for me. But anything Lafayette 148 is good quality and classic style.

  6. Melissa
    December 4, 2019 / 1:41 pm

    Leather (like) leggings? All I can think of is Ross Gellar baby powdering himself down to get them on, in Friends.#hotsweatymess
    Hard pass (for me). Not judging anyone else.

  7. Sandra
    December 4, 2019 / 11:31 am

    It seems your links led me to purchase….. Faux leggings? Never! But I clicked on a purse and ended up with a FELT HAT. 😉 Thanks so much! I have been wanting one.

  8. Susan
    December 4, 2019 / 10:21 am

    I have a pair of chocolate brown faux leather leggings that I adore. Most of my wardrobe is navy, and not black, so the brown works better for me. However, I am struggling with shoes. I feel like this is a weak spot in my style in general and the faux leather leggings just call more attention to my footwear.

    • December 6, 2019 / 11:20 am

      Go with something not trying to match. With chocolate a pair of tan or camel suede booties or trendy sneakers is a good idea!

  9. December 4, 2019 / 9:57 am

    Any advice on how to style these when you have “pink” hair? Now that I‘Ve gone Rose Gold I’m rethinking how I wear everything. I LOVE my new hair. But I do t want to look like an old groupie at the same time.

    • December 6, 2019 / 11:21 am

      Go luxe. Pair with silk and cashmere, drapey styles, softer colors that complement your rose gold tresses. Think rich art collector instead of rich rock star.

  10. Marie
    December 4, 2019 / 8:28 am

    I love and live in faux leather leggings and always looking for different ways to style them so thanks!

  11. December 9, 2018 / 1:39 am

    This was so helpful, thank you!! I just bought the Spanx leggings on Black Friday and was wondering how best to pair them. I don’t love layering so the idea of a simple longer top is the one I loved most!

  12. M
    August 7, 2018 / 1:26 pm

    Allie, I adore that long pendant but when I clicked on the link it says it is convertible but not what the conversion is – any idea or did I just miss it in the description?

    • August 7, 2018 / 1:37 pm

      I *think* it’s because the cord clasp is the type where you can adjust the length from short to long? Weird that there’s no explanation in the description!

  13. Chris
    August 6, 2018 / 8:06 pm

    Allie,

    Seriously, what if a person wants to look like Sandy for a costume party or Halloween? What do you recommend? I’m thinking of a young friend, not me. She has the hair and the body for it.

    • August 7, 2018 / 1:05 pm

      I’d do an off the shoulder black top tucked into leather leggings, a wide elastic belt, and red lipstick!

  14. Karen
    August 6, 2018 / 6:15 pm

    Love these looks. You’ve reminded me that I have a pair of black waxed skinny jeans (this was my budget-friendly alternative to real leather) that are in my closet somewhere. I’d say most of the looks will work with them also. I just have to wait till about December before I can start to play with the looks, considering I live in Florida.

    • Krista
      December 4, 2019 / 9:51 am

      Well, welcome to winter in Florida. Start playing!

  15. Julia
    August 6, 2018 / 2:32 pm

    Thank you, this is so helpful! I’ll give a +1 to the vans perforated slip ons. These are some of my favorite shoes I own (I have the floral perforated pattern ones) and I’ve pretty much worn them out. I replaced them this year with silver ones, and I love them just as much. I’ve decided to get this top from Torrid to wear with mine
    https://www.torrid.com/product/harper—purple-georgette-sleeveless-pullover-blouse/11201054.html#q=harper&start=11

    It’s low in the back for butt coverage. I’ll pair it with a cute rucked sleeve blazer and either my vans or silver flats.

  16. August 6, 2018 / 1:42 pm

    “Trend salad” is a concept I’ll definitely use in the future haha Faux leather leggings have been a piece of clothing I’ve been kind of scared of. I feel like I won’t be able to pull them off, that I’ll look horrible in them. I’ll definitely try to overcome that fear and look into some faux leather leggings in the future and definitely gonna follow your tips.

  17. Cynthia
    August 6, 2018 / 12:32 pm

    “Don’t be a trend salad.” Love this advice. My favorite faux leather leggings have a stripe of black lace down the side, which makes them fit into my style better than the moto ones. You’ve given me some great ideas here — I especially love the grey suede wedge booties. I always wear black shoes or booties — need to up my footwear!

    • August 7, 2018 / 1:10 pm

      I really love breaking it up with a different texture and/or color. I think you’ll like the effect!

  18. August 6, 2018 / 10:12 am

    Spot on, Alison. Let the leather be the focus, I totally agree. I have a pair of leather pants, not leggings, more like trousers. And I’m careful how I style them. I’m 62, so I don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb. So longer sweaters and boots, simple tees with a blazer and loafers are what I usually wear with my leather pants. And now you’ve given me some new ideas, thanks.

    • Jacqueline
      December 5, 2019 / 1:29 pm

      Sue, “mutton dressed as a lamb”… I’ll have to remember that one! I’ve got 10 years on you, and have always wanted a black leather moto jacket. I finally bought one and let it hang in my closet because I didn’t know how to style it so I wouldn’t have that “mutton” look! Too late to do anything about it now because I finally gave the jacket away.

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