How to Style Faux Leather Leggings

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tips on how to style faux leather leggings by Wardrobe Oxygen

Faux leather leggings have been a fashion trend for several years (seriously, I was discussing the style merits of faux leather leggings way back in 2016), and they don't seem to be going away any time soon. In fact, I originally wrote this post in 2018 but updated it 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

GIF of Olivia Newton-John as Sandy in the movie Grease. It is at the end of the film when she is wearing leather-look leggings and dancing at the carnival

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.

collage showing how to style faux leather leggings for the weekend featuring black faux leather leggings with a camel long collarless sweater jacket, an ivory and black striped long sleeve t-shirt, black Converse sneakers, gold swirl earrings, and NYX lip gloss

leggings | sweater coat | striped t-shirt | earrings | lip gloss | sneakers

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?

suggestion on how to style faux leather leggings with lug sole loafers, an ivory and black striped tunic sweater, black beanie, black crossbody bag, black sunglasses, and red lipstick.

leggings | loafers | sweater | bag | beanie | lipstick | sunglasses

Bad hair day? Throw on a beanie and faux leather leggings will make it look like a style statement, not a morning of struggle. I own this beanie, four years and going and it still looks great and washes well. Sunglasses are also great for an early or rushed morning; I own these sunglasses and always get compliments (and I love to share the low price). 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 if you want to amp the polish, this is one of my favorite red lipsticks to brighten up cold winter complexions.

tips on how to style faux leather leggings for all ages by Wardrobe Oxygen

How to Style Faux Leather Leggings for Work

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. The key is balancing the faux leather legging with classic workplace separates like blazers and refined knitwear along with footwear that reads corporate.

tips on how to style faux leather leggings for work showcasing black leather look leggings styled with a brown plaid wool blazer, black merino turtleneck, black leather loafers, tortoiseshell reading glasses, and a dark red matte lipcolor.

leggings | blazer | turtleneck sweater | loafers | reading glasses | lipcolor

I love the juxtaposition of classic tweed and houndstooth with modern faux leather; it fits very well with this fall's trends while also being a look that will still be stylish next year. Add loafers which will make the leggings read workplace not dancefloor. If you are concerned with cold ankles in winter, consider a printed sock that pulls the colors from your blazer, or choose an elevated black trouser sock to continue the line of color.

How to Style Faux Leather Leggings for A Night Out

ideas on how to style faux leather leggings for evening with a silk crepe tunic, satin handbag, and velvet bedazzled flats.

leggings | blouse | bag | shoes | lip gloss | earrings | bracelet

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. Want a bit more drama? A pop of color with an evening bag will add festivity.

Where to Buy the Best Faux Leather Leggings

Not all faux leather leggings are created equal. Some can look (and feel) plastic and painful, some go sheer when stretched over curves, some lose their shape, and some are truly worth your hard-earned money. Every style I recommend (except the last one) is available at least to size 3X and most offer a range of inseam lengths: My favorite faux leather leggings:

  • My personal favorite faux leather leggings: I have to admit, Spanx makes a pretty perfect faux-leather legging. Available in three inseams and sizes XS-3X, there's a reason these are highly-rated and continue to be a customer favorite year after year. Keep in mind, these leggings have compression and if you're not looking for that, go up a size.
  • The best matte faux leather leggings: Some faux leather leggings can look too shiny; the Good American Good Waist faux leather leggings have a slightly matte finish that looks a bit more luxe and like real leather. If in doubt, especially if you have strong thighs, size up. These are the most size-inclusive faux leather leggings available in sizes XS-5X.
  • The best patent leather-look leggings: If you desire that glossy look, check out the Commando Faux Patent Leather Legging. Six colors, two lengths, and available up to 3X, these are highly rated, comfortable, and look super cool.
  • The best tummy control faux leather leggings: Honeylove's Just Like Leather Legging is well-designed with a great faux leather finish. With interior shaping panels, they will slim and compress while looking fashionable. I am a fan of the ankle zippers which make these look more like streetwear than activewear.
  • The best leather-look athletic leggings: The Athleta Elation Tight is available in several “shine” colors that provide the effect of faux leather leggings but with the stretch, ease, and washability of your favorite workout tights. Available in Misses and Plus sizes as well as Petite and Tall, there may be the perfect fit for you.
  • The best faux leather flared leggings: With the return of flares and looser styles of leggings, I had to include a style of flared faux leather leggings! And yet again, I'm recommending Commando, which makes a high quality faux leather legging with a flared ankle. In two colors and sizes XS-XL, this is a highly rated modern option.
do's and don't's of how to style 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.

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 are 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. A “shacket” is also a nice contrast to faux leather leggings.
  • Balance the shine with other textures. Faux leather leggings with shiny satin or sequins are best reserved for 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. For evening, check out silk crepe, matte jersey, or velvet.
  • 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 are 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 quieter, your leather leggings 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.

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36 Comments

  1. This post is so useful! I’d love to see a similar post on how to style leather skirts. I bought a knee length leather skirt back in 2007 and have barely worn it because I can never figure out how to style it.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

      1. 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.

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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?

    1. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. “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.

  16. “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!

  17. 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.

    1. 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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