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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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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.