Three ways to style a leather pencil skirt

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Friday, February 19, 2016

One of the most common questions I get when I tell people about this no new things challenge is: "What are you going to do when the spring comes?" The truth is, spring and summer dressing was so far from my mind when I committed to this challenge back in December that there wasn't really a plan for the warmer months. However, I've given it a lot of thought and realized that I own warm weather alternatives for most of my cold weather staples. I've started a list of these "alternatives" and have been starting to brainstorm fresh ways to style them to keep myself on track.

I've been living in leather leggings all winter, and will miss them when it warms up. The springtime equivalent of leather leggings is the leather pencil skirt and I already own one! I've spent some time thinking about how to style my leather pencil skirt, and came up with some fresh outfits using the same rules I've been applying to their leggings counterpart:

#1 Treat a leather pencil skirt as a basic

Like you would any black skirt, really. This means you can pair it with casual tops like a Breton stripe tee (or my favorite Lovers + Friends graphic tee I wear too much...), sweaters, and add color and personality with your accessories (like a red leather fringe clutch or bright red heels).

#2 Use it to add spice to a minimalist, monochrome outfit

I wear my leather leggings with all black or black-and-white ensembles constantly, and love the element of texture and interest it gives to a could-be-boring outfit. A leather pencil skirt worn with a simple white blouse and flats is so easy to toss on but looks very put together (at least in my opinion)!

#3 Balance the proportions

Leather pencil skirts are typically fitted (mine is on the tight side after a long winter...) so they look best when paired with oversize tops, long blazers, loose cardigans and chunky knits. 

#4 Vary the textures

This is something that takes some thought, because we tend to style ourselves based on color coordination and not the ability for different fabrics to "get along." Since leather is a natural fabric, it plays well with other naturals like silk, wool, and cotton. It does not play well with polyester, rayon and other man-made fabrics (and will make your beautiful genuine leather skirt look like polyurethane). 

#5 Keep shoes simple and classic

Leather pencil skirts look great with classic styles like pumps or pointed flats in suede, leather or calfhair. Anything too high, strappy or trendy can make a leather pencil skirt look cheap and inappropriate. I apply the "office appropriate" shoe rule to my leather pencil skirt regardless of where I'm planning to wear it: either closed heel or closed toe, 3" or shorter heel, and no studs or adornments that would raise eyebrows in a conference room! 

One of the reasons that I love a good genuine leather pencil skirt is because it is a timeless item and extremely versatile. This also means you can find a great deal on one if you're willing to hunt - the one I'm wearing is vintage, picked up for less than $20 at a shop in North Carolina. In the outfits above, I paired it with: #1 Gap Breton tee, a Joelle Hawkens fringe bag, and Nine West nude pumps; #2 Transit Par Such coatigan, vintage Gucci patent leather bag, and Mango heels; and #3 Madewell cotton-and-silk blouse, Vince d'Orsay flats and a Pulicati tote.

Do you have any ideas for styling a leather pencil skirt for spring? Or general thoughts on winter staple alternatives for spring that I can start to add to my "outfit ideas" list? Would love to hear your thoughts!

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6 comments on "Three ways to style a leather pencil skirt"
  1. Happy weekend Colleen!

    Oh I love all 3 outfits I really cant tell you which one is better, they are all awesome!

    I must be so lucky that I live in such a mild weather, my closet does not have very obvious winter/spring separation, I pretty much can wear any piece any time, only need to add some jackets or overcoats. My concern usually is: is this too thick for the weather? Or how long will I be able to wear this coat?

    I do not have real leather skirt(I have faux ones) but if I go thrifting I will now make sure to look for one!

    I agree with all your tips, leather skirt is actually very easy to wear, versatile, if we keep things simple and natural it can not go too wrong. I think it will also go well with slip-ons or sneakers, to give it a more casual look. Also a loose fit light sweater comes in mind, it should be good too paring with the skirt?

    Love your pictures and posts as usual :)

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Echo, thank you so much for reading and for your comment! Glad you like the outfits, I'm going to get some good use out of my leather skirt this spring :) You are definitely lucky to live in a mild climate and have the ability to use your full wardrobe. Will have to try my skirt with sneakers, that is a good suggestion. (And yes, keep up your thrifting and I guarantee you'll find a great real-leather version!) Loose fit light sweater would look great with this skirt! I'd do that even with sheer tights and ballet flats for colder days in the next month!

  2. Hi, Colleen! Something tells me that you'll get through 2016 with what's already in your closet just fine ;)

    Thank you for another excellent article! Although leather garments are no longer meant to be worn merely by bikers and rock stars, and thanks to the fashion industry have become pretty much ubiquitous in our society, they can be tricky to style in every day life and even more in the office. Further, I feel they get even harder to pull off as we age, but fortunately it seems that women fair better than men in this. I mean, I wouldn't mind my husband wearing a great, vintage-looking leather bomber jacket in his leisure time, but he'd be well advised to stay away from leather pants. (This coming from someone who recently bought two pairs of leather leggings! LOL)

    The skirt you're wearing is not only an incredible deal, but the cut is pure perfection - not too short, adorned, or trendy. I absolutely love how you've styled it! Each look is timeless, simple, and (hello!) appropriate for a wide age range of women.

    1. Hi Ivanka! Thank you so much for reading and for your comment - glad you liked the post :) And I totally agree that leather is tricky to style, and can easily look inappropriate if we're not careful in choices of shoes and tops! And LOL to husbands in leather pants!! Thanks for your compliments on these outfits - I have a feeling they will be on repeat for the next couple of months ;) Hope you have a great rest of the week!

  3. hi

    love your style and this leather skirt.
    Why don't you wear it anymore?
    what about suede skirt?


    1. Hi Catherine, thanks so much for reading and for your comment (and compliments) - I appreciate it! Suede skirts are amazing, I don't have one but will be keeping an eye out for vintage / thrifted this year! They can be styled the same way as this basic leather one. (Which will be back in rotation for spring :)