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. But what to wear with leather leggings, be they real or faux? This post originally was published in 2018 but because this trend is so popular, I updated it with looks appropriate for this year. Below I share how to style faux leather leggings, with a focus on the styles of faux leather leggings from Spanx.  I chose Spanx because they are by far the most popular style, come in plus sizes, and many have purchased them at the recent Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  However, in the widget below I have faux leather leggings from a variety of retailers and pricepoints. 

 

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 in 2020

leggings (available in tall and petite up to 3X) | cashmere sweater (available up to XXL) | booties | earrings

This is a classic way to style faux leather leggings – with booties and a sweater.  What makes this look work is the details.  The sweater is roomy with a statement collar which balances the slick and fitted look of the leggings.  If cream isn't your thing this sweater is also available in a deep merlot color.  Instead of trying to match the faux leather of the leggings, consider a print.  Snakeskin is a hot trend this season and a way to add texture and trend to a simple ensemble.  These booties are available in seven different colors or patterns and are highly rated for comfort.  Curb chain-inspired hoops add a bit of shine without competing with the other details of the look and are small enough to work with any style of face mask.

tips on how to style faux leather leggings for work

leggings (available in lengths and sizes up to 3XL) | blazer (available up to 3XL) | sweater (available up to 2XL) | loafers| pendant necklace

If you work in a creative office, you may be able to get away with leather leggings.  The key is to ensure your rear is properly covered.  Look for boyfriend-style blazers to cover beyond the waistband without adding bulk. Go sleek and sophisticated by pairing the blazer with a short-sleeved sweater (wear untucked with the jacket open or buttoned up). Consider a loafer with no-see socks to add a level of professionalism with a hint of punk and a comfortable low heel.  If your office is more casual, such shoe can easily be replaced with a pair of trendy sneakers.

how to style faux leather leggings

how to style faux leather leggings with a tunic

leggings (available in lengths and sizes up to 3XL) | tunic | flats (available in widths) | earrings | bracelet

Because faux leather leggings have such a trim fit, they're great to wear with longer tunics and shorter dresses.   A pair of flats with a pointed toe will elongate the look and keep it from looking like loungewear.  A pair of earrings can add a pop of color and interest, especially if your meetings are on Zoom.

how to style moto faux leather leggings 1

leggings (available in petite and sizes up to 3XL) | blouse (straight-sized version) | boots | earrings | necklace

Skinny faux leggings are great for balancing out a top with plenty of volume.  This blouse works because it is a lightweight fabric with layers that catch the breeze; a heavier fabric may cling to the leggings and feel weighed down. As for the boots, the combat-inspired style continues to be on trend this season while providing comfort and practicality. Add gold accessories to complete the look and to help the romantic blouse balance the toughness of the boots and leggings.

how to style faux leather leggings for winter

turtleneck (available up to 3XL) | leggings (available in lengths and sizes up to 3XL) | earrings | sneakers

Faux or real leather leggings are so sleek and chic.  Play up these characteristics with more of the same.  A turtleneck sweater pairs nicely with the shine and brings elegance to the leggings. For a downtown cool factor, pair with trendy sneakers and small yet sassy earrings.  A look this chic can work with a fresh face and messy topknot, or maybe a swipe of red lipstick.

how to style leather leggings casual

leggings | sweater (available up to 14/16) | t-shirt (available up to 2XL) | sneakers 

With our new normal, you may be looking for ways to style your faux leggings in a more relaxed manner. In past years, faux leather leggings were styled with plaid flannel or denim shirts or lightweight very long cardigan sweaters. This season, switch it up with a cozy chunky sweater with a more relaxed silhouette and a bit shorter of a length. From hip- to thigh-length, it will be long enough to feel covered while having a modern look. Rock those t-shirts stating your views; look for shirts that have descriptors like, “flowing,” “soft,” and “women's cut” to find one that you may like better with your curves. If it's a unisex t-shirt, don't be afraid to customize it to better suit your unique body. A good start is turning the t-shirt inside-out and cutting out the collar and cut off the hems of the sleeves. Pull a little at the shirt, try it on, and you may wish to trim each a bit more but do a little bit at a time so you don't ruin the shirt.  A pair of slip-on stretchy sneakers (these are washable and comfy) at the door ready for your next socially distant event!

 

how to style plus size faux leather leggings

What Shoes to Wear with Faux Leather Leggings?

The best 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.

If you're looking to dress up the leggings for work or evening, consider a pair of pointed-toe flats, or a boot with a bit of toughness.

Sleek ankle booties and pumps in black leather may be a safe bet, but the look can be too superhero.  If you choose this kind of shoe, be sure to balance the look with a clearly professional and polished or relaxed and voluminous top.

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 or a denim jacket.
  • 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 fabric 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.  They're not the thing to wear with a cold shoulder or sheer blouse or statement shoes. If the rest of your outfit is a bit quieter your leather leggings then can sing.
  • Add Polish. While faux leather leggings look more refined than traditional leggings, they can easily veer into athleisure if styled with more relaxed pieces.  Oversized sweatshirts, cocoon cardigans, and sweater coats can make you look as though you just rolled out of bed. Add a bit of tailoring or an accessory to make it clear this is not loungewear.
  • Think Contrasts Not Costume.  Rocker leather leggings with a corporate blazer. Black leather with cashmere in a soft pastel color. The shine of the leggings paired with chambray or a plaid flannel. The way to make these 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.
 

33 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

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

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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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