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Leather pants have always held the attention of fashion’s rulebreakers. They’re the chosen uniform of early Rock and Roll stars like Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley. Later, there was the post-apocalyptic embrace of the bottoms in 1999’s cyberpunk saga, The Matrix, a reference that has been recently resurrected at fashion houses like Balenciaga and Ann Demeulemeester.
But, despite their longstanding ties to those pushing trends on the punk end of the fashion spectrum, leather pants are a crucial staple in even the most minimalist wardrobes. Thanks to the diversity of options on the market these days — whatever color, rise, or leg silhouette fits your desire, it’s out there — embracing the soft, buttery feel of leather on your legs is easier than ever. “Someone with a more classic style might stick with a standard black pant option,” Shopbop fashion director Caroline Maguire tells WWD. “A customer who wants to go outside of their comfort zone may go for a bolder leather pant option, head-to-toe leather look or style an outfit with bold accessories or jewelry.”
Types of leather pants
As you embark on your shopping journey, prioritize finding the silhouette that best suits your needs. Leggings are a casual choice often ideal for layering, while a wide-leg style can offer a dressier look that’s suitable for work or more formal occasions. Since many consider leather pants to be an investment, ironing out what exactly your needs are ahead of buying will help ensure you get the most out of your purchase.
In addition to silhouette, it’s also important to pay attention to material, as vegan leather, typically made of polyurethane, has risen in popularity over the last few years as an animal-friendly alternative to traditional leather. Often, vegan options also come with a lower price tag and may be worth purchasing based on budget. If you’re interested in going this route, celebrity stylist Britt Theodora suggests honing in on “designers who are really mastering vegan leather tailoring like Nanushka.” Or, she adds, “since leather lasts for so long, another option is to shop for vintage leather.”
How to wear leather pants
As trousers and looser-fitting jeans have come back in style, leather pants have similarly taken a turn towards the relaxed, with many runways offering wide-leg trouser silhouettes for spring ’22 including those of Bottega Veneta and Hermes. Theodora also points to Prada’s most recent menswear collection for inspiration. “It showcased some really iconic styling of leather pants and even a Veri Peri colored leather jumpsuit,” she says. “I love the play of jewel-toned leather pants with oversized jackets layered over.” But, it wasn’t just at Prada that color played a major role for fall ’22; in fact, Tom Ford sent models down the runway in shimmering purple and gold track pants.
When it comes to styling this on-the-rise silhouette, take cues from trendsetters like Bella Hadid, who has favored the full leather suit — styling pants with a coordinated top or jacket. If you’re opting for an oversized bottom, be aware of proportions and opt for something more fitted or cropped on top. “For the more classic look, I would style a black pair of leather leggings with a white tee and some gold jewelry with a pair of ankle boots,” Theodora suggests. “For a trendier look I would style leather leggings in a fun color like purple or green with a printed bodysuit and patterned jacket. This works for those who love to layer textures and patterns.”
Maguire adds that if you’re looking for leather pants that can easily transition from relaxed daytime settings to more formal events, the key is versatility. “I love layering knits to add texture to a look and keep me cozy,” she explains. “For an evening look with the same pair of pants, I still love to layer, but with dressier options, such as a bodysuit or oversized blazer. Sometimes, I’ll even pair a dress over leather bottoms to completely switch up my style.”
How to care for leather pants
Leather can withstand more wear and tear than more delicate options like silk or cotton, but there are still actions you can take to ensure that your leather pants stay pristine over time. Since you can’t throw them in the laundry like you would a pair of jeans, you’ll want to make sure you’re staying ahead of upkeep.
Firstly, when cleaning, you’ll want to spot-test. Try dabbing the pants with a damp cloth in a more discreet location — inside of a pocket or inside the waistband. If the water dries without discoloring the pants, you can move on to more visible areas. For any spills or stains, spot clean with water and then let the pants air dry, keeping them away from direct heat. You can apply a leather protectant as an added level of security against spots (again, being sure to spot-test first) and a leather conditioner to keep the pants supple and soft.
You can also take your pants to the dry cleaner, though you’ll want to stick to those that specialize in leather cleaning. Similarly, if your pants need to be tailored for any reason, you’ll want to look for a master tailor or leather specialist that has the specialized machines needed for the heavy-duty material.
When it comes to storing your pants, consider hanging them to avoid wrinkles (leather cannot be ironed). You can store them in a protective bag, but during the summer, avoid storing them in plastic, where they could accumulate moisture.
Below, shop the 15 best leather pants we’re currently eyeing. We even included some of Theodora and Maguire’s picks.
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Top Leather Pants
- Best Black Leather Pants: Loewe Cropped Leather Pants
- Best Faux Leather Pants: Nanushka Zoey Pleated Pants
- Best Brown Leather Pants: Altuzarra Serge Pant
- Best Green Leather Pants: Remain Berger Christensen Lynn Pants
- Best Leather Leggings: Theory Adbelle Leggings
- Best High-Waisted Leather Pants: Altuzarra Sidney Pant
- Best Leather Flare Pants: Wandler Aster Trouser
- Best Sweats Alternative: Missoni Trousers
- Best Wide-Leg Leather Pants: Proenza Schouler White Label Leather Culottes
- Best Minimalist Leather Pants: Zeynep Arcay Leather Track Pants
- Best Under-$500 Leather Pants: Agolde Vegan Leather Wrap Band Pants
- Best Practical Leather Pants: Rag & Bone Mia Pants
- Best Colorful Leather Pants: Bottega Veneta Leather Wide-Leg Pants
- Best Luxury Leather Pants: Khaite Melie Pants
- Best Vinyl Leather Pants: Good American Good ‘90s Textured Vinyl
- Best Straight-Leg Leather Pants: Aritzia Melina Pants
Loewe Cropped Leather Pants
Best Black Leather Pants
Loewe is a brand beloved for its leather accessories, but its craftsmanship is applied to its ready-to-wear offerings, too. We recommend these wide-leg leather pants if you’re in need of a luxury option that allows for a bit more airflow (read: reduces the risk of a Ross Gellar moment). For those desiring a designer option, these are the best luxury leather pants out there.
Nanushka Zoey Pleated Pants
Best Faux Leather Pants
One of the best labels around for vegan leather pant styles, Nanushka offers silhouettes with a touch of retro flair that still feel on-trend. Opting for these tan pants will mean you’re sticking to neutral territory while pushing the envelope a bit. Try a silk top for an overall sleek look that doesn’t feel too matchy-matchy.
Altuzarra Serge Pant
Best Brown Leather Pants
Brown is the new black for 2022, so add these chocolate-hued pants from Altuzarra to your collection. The slight flair makes them an ideal choice to pair with ankle boots in a coordinated hue. Finish with a beige or off-white sweater for a coordinated look that doesn’t feel too over the top.
Remain Berger Christensen Lynn Pants
Best Green Leather Pants
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and add a little color into your day-to-day wardrobe. “These green leather pants are awesome for someone who loves to wear color,” Theodora explains of Remain Berger Christensen’s straight-leg option. If you’re going for green (which happens to be a go-to color trend in 2022) try wearing your pants with other trending hues like periwinkle or dahlia pink.
Theory Adbelle Leggings
Best Leather Leggings
Leather leggings are a sophisticated alternative to their spandex counterparts, and what most would consider a wardrobe staple. This pair from Theory tops the competition thanks to its snug, sleek fit. Choose a classic black option with an elastic waistband to serve as the base of your winter outfits. Even if you add a number of bulky layers on top, your ensemble will appear balanced.
Altuzarra Sidney Pant
Best High-Waisted Leather Pants
Altuzarra’s Sidney leather pants are a sleek take on trousers. These are the best high-waisted leather pants option if that’s a style on your wishlist. The straight-leg silhouette and front pleating make them ideal for wearing to the office, and they can easily be paired with pumps or a chunky ankle boot for winter.
Wandler Aster Trouser
Best Leather Flare Pants
The beauty of white leather trousers is that even if you spill on them, you don’t risk leaving spots or stains. These pants from Wandler have a flared ‘70s-inspired hem, making them the perfect option for pairing with a playful heel. Finish off the look with a sequin top and you’ll be ready to hit the dance floor — these are the best leather pants for the life of the party.
Best Sweats Alternative
If you’ve had a hard time parting with sweats, the best leather pants to shop for are ones with a jogger silhouette. The elastic ankles and waistband on this Missoni pair mean that you’ll be comfortable, while the supple black leather lends a sophisticated touch.
Proenza Schouler White Label Leather Culottes
Best Wide-Leg Leather Pants
New York label Proenza Schouler has a knack for nailing classic staples with a bit of downtown edge. The best wide-leg leather pants have a loose silhouette without being overwhelming, and these hit that sweet spot. Even if you aren’t a resident of Manhattan, these pants will be a cool addition to your wardrobe.
Zeynep Arcay Leather Track Pants
Best Minimalist Leather Pants
Are you a strict minimalist? If you prefer to keep your wardrobe small and your pieces neutral, then Zeynep Arcay is a Turkish label that should be on your radar. “These are the perfect shade of brown,” Theodora notes of the pants’ toffee hue.
Agolde Vegan Leather Wrap Band Pants
Best Under-$500 Leather Pants
I’ve been seeing wide leg pants and trousers all over this season,” Maguire says. “[One of] my favorites right now is this vegan leather pair from Agolde.” These faux leather pants feature belt tabs at the hip that allow for easy adjusting and a tapered silhouette that hits just at the ankle. Since vegan leather tends to have a lower price tag than traditional leather, these pants are a solid under-$500 option. Tuck in a classic button-down for a look that works for a coffee catch-up with friends or an in-person work meeting.
Rag & Bone Mia Pants
Best Practical Leather Pants
Practical may not be the first word that comes to mind when you’re in the market for a pair of leather pants, but the built-in belt and ankle snaps on these Rag & Bone pants place them squarely in the category. A great casual option that you can style with sneakers and a tee for an easy weekend look, these are your go-to off-duty pick.
Bottega Veneta Leather Wide-Leg Pants
Best Colorful Leather Pants
Don’t shy away from vibrant options when it comes to bottoms. In fact, choosing leather pants like this fiery red style ensures that your outfit will always stand out from the crowd. Courtesy of one of fashion’s buzziest labels, this Bottega Veneta‘s take is the best trend-forward option of the bunch. Try contrasting colors if your style skews bold, or pair it with classic black pieces for a simpler look.
Khaite Melie Pants
Best Luxury Leather Pants
If your aesthetic is more classic, you can never go wrong with a cropped pants silhouette in black. These leather pants are the best straight-leg option to style with a preppy blazer for a work-chic look. Khaite is a brand known for its mastery of elevated basics, so consider investing in a full outfit from the label when you’re considering how to style your new bottoms.
Good American Good ‘90s Textured Vinyl
Best Vinyl Leather Pants
Loose, ‘90s-inspired silhouettes are back in style, and these pants from Good American are the best vegan leather trousers for anyone seeking a throwback. If you’re looking to nail a playful going-out look, try pairing a looser, vinyl bottom with a crop top or sheer cardigan.
Aritzia Melina Pants
Best Straight-Leg Leather Pants
After Artizia’s Melina pants went viral on TikTok, the brand couldn’t keep the high-rise style in stock. Luckily, you can once again pick up a pair in a range of colors and in short, regular and tall sizes. If you lean towards wearing jeans every day, these pants have a similar silhouette and will serve as an easy alternative to your usual denim.