Worker V: 1.5 (+ Rules for Rocking Leather in the Office)

Another day at the office, another Worker V look—but this time, in leather. Oh yes I did.

I’ve had this a-line leather skirt for years; picked it up for a song at Gap (if you can believe that), and I have adored its unique cut  season after season. Curiously, though, I tend to wear it to work or church, which seems rather contradictory for a leather skirt, don’t you think? Probably because this skirt is an a-line that falls well below the knee…not the stuff date nights are made of, or at least not my date nights.

Coat: Ann Taylor •  Sweater: Banana Republic  •  Belt: Bebe  •  Skirt: Gap
Heels: Oh Deer  •  Bag: Topshop  •  Watch: Michael Kors  •  Ring: Stephen Dweck

In real life, this skirt is pretty attention-getting because it is black leather, but the conservative cut tones it down. I paired it with a skinny patent leather belt and simple, round-toe, black patent pumps—plus a very retro 3/4 sleeve coat. I felt kind of Mad Men/Joan in this look.

What I love about this ensemble (and what I think makes it work) is the mix of textures. Yes, it’s basic black—but there is leather, patent leather, and that calf-hair, leopard print bag to break it all up. I felt so good in this outfit. I was totally covered, office-appropriate, but very me.

Rules for Rocking Leather in the Office

For years, I have worked in an relatively conservative environment with a “business casual” dress code. Leather skirts, minis, and casual wear are not the norm. This is my approach to dressing for the office, while still dressing for me.

1. Always remember these fashion formulas:

  • edgy outfit + classic accessories
  • classic outfit + edgy accessories
  • 80/20 (80% covered, 20% skin)

2. Don’t even think about wearing a leather skirt or dress that’s shorter than two inches above the knee. Nothing says SEX more than a short leather skirt. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

3. Don’t pair leather with more leather.
As in tall leather boots or a leather jacket /coat with a leather skirt. Double leather is like double denim, which I think is too much of a good thing. The leather clothing item you choose to wear—whether it is a skirt, dress, shirt, or vest—should be the focus of your look. Outerwear, belts, and shoes should be simple and not compete with your primary piece.

4. Avoid wearing leather pants in the office.
They’re kind of synonymous with rockers and bondage gear…and these days, only skinny leathers abound. Sure, you could wear some ’80s leather pants that are cut like trousers, but have you seen how ’80s they look? Not for me, that I do know. And kind of universally unflattering. Probably best left in the ’80s.

5. Keep accessories and shoes simple.
This is the edgy outfit : classic accessories formula above. Skip the wild platforms and opt for a standard pump, or even some cute flats.  Think classic, and you won’t go wrong. Studded and spiked accessories are fine in the office in small doses, with classic pieces—that’s my classic outfit : edgy accessories rule.

6. Don’t wear red leather in the office.
Wear anything but expensive pumps or a belt in red leather, and you could be mistaken for Michael Jackson or a hooker. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

7. Pair leather dresses with opaque tights.
There are some very chic leather shift dresses being produced that are totally office-appropriate. As long as they aren’t too tight or too short, go for it. But I’d wear one with tights to lessen the impact. If you’re going straight from work to cocktails, lose the tights for instant hotness.

For more tips on staying true to you while dressing for business, check out Worker V: 1.1 (+ My Office Wear Strategy).

Comments

  1. says

    I really like the way this quest for a certain “stylish balance” Here comes along with an ambition to electrify your Corporate attires without sinking in show off Dear V !!! The material hysterizes while the shape tempers, AND your haughtiness naturally dazzles far beyond any kind of skin’s unveiling . . .
    ps: Mmh and THE “Glam Forecaster who is writing you” (shyly) must add that He highly suspects your heels to be provided an uber appealing bloody side too . . .
    à Bientôt, Antoine
    Antoine’s latest post: THE BOMBnextDoors Vertigo as seen on Stilettostetico- OR the almost unspeakable charm of REAL Glam 8My Profile

  2. Jenna says

    I love your look, V! Leather is one of those amazingly chic materials that can be tough to pull off. Definitely agree with all your rules. Especially about leather-on-leather. That’s such a no-no. I may need to invest in a skirt like yours one of these days! Right now, my motorcycle jacket is just about all the leather I have.

    xo,
    Jenna

    P.S.
    I am dying over your bag!

  3. says

    And another perfect post. YOU LOOK AMAZING. And office appropriate. The coat with the leather gives me chills- I love the play of classic-on-the-edge, it’s like the kiss exchanged between Catherine Denueve and Susan Sarandon in The Hunger. Surprisingly a very good thing.
    The advice you give is right on. No to ’80’s leather pants. No to leather mini’s. Yes to texture play.
    I have that exact same skirt (not my size, to sell) and when I hung it up yesterday in my shop, I thought of you. Also thought of you with the suede pants I found at Salvation Army for $10bucks. Just don’t start kissing Denueve, ok? I’m not sure I could handle it.

    Enter to Win My Shabby Apple Dress Give-Away- the Citizen Rosebud
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  4. Metsy says

    Stunning as usual my dear! And you have that bag I tried to get but alas, it sold out. I wasn’t quick enough. ;)

  5. says

    My fav post you have ever done!

    LOVE the tips…although I don’t work…and I hardly ever wear leather, although one day I will own a pair of thigh high leather boots…and I will wear them constantly.

    I love that you say nothing says SEX like short leather skirt…haha. Yeah. First I though sexy…but no…it says sex.

    I want leather pants too! Oh man…what I wore leather pants with those thigh high boots? that would be ridiculous.
    annie’s latest post: Party Life haha- ok- not reallyMy Profile

  6. says

    I covet your closet. You have some of the best pieces I have ever seen online. That look is perfect and you are right – very Joan/Mad Men-esque.

    i love that you don’t just post your outfit, but give pointers on how to rock the look on your own. I would never have thought to wear leather to the office (except in jacket or boot form) but here you have it – it works brilliantly.
    Beautifully Invisible’s latest post: Friend Friday- What’s in your Makeup BagMy Profile

  7. says

    I totally agree with your fashion formulas, although I may toe the line with a more 70 to 30 ratio! You are such a classic beauty, even a leather skirt looks ladylike (yet edgy) on you!
    Santina’s latest post: Back to Square OneMy Profile

  8. says

    V, you take such great pictures!! This is an understated sexy office look, if I’ve ever seen one, and I LOVE it! That bag is the perfect finishing touch!

  9. says

    That skirt is ridiculously hot…and for the office?! Showstopper! Love how you threw the leopard bag in for some extra flavor. Wishing you a fab weekend girl! xo
    Nicole’s latest post: Game pLayersMy Profile

  10. says

    Love it and it’s so up my alley! I love classic pieces with an edge to it because when you work in an office most of the week, you wanna have fun while not giving your co-workers a heart attack! Definitely agree with not over-doing it – one edgy item in your outfit is enough! :)
    MJ’s latest post: Outfit 26 of 30- True Blue and Almost ThroughMy Profile

  11. says

    I love how you end the post with tips. It’s really ridiculous what I’ve seen women wear to the office.

    Leather + more leather = yikesssssssssssss

    Your skirt says sophisticated with a twist of va va voom. So classic yet chic enough to look outstandingly fashionable.

    ps.
    great job during Independent Fashion Bloggers. You were my favorite speaker. You seem so genuine V.
    Lauren Nicole’s latest post: There’s more to me than pretty clothesMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Lauren, thank you!

      Yes, what some women wear. The day I wore this I walked into the cafeteria and saw a woman in LEGGINGS with a business-y jacket. It covered her bum, but barely, and she did not have the best figure, either. OMG. What on earth was she thinking? Leggings to Corporate America?

  12. says

    Loving this! I would have never thought a leather skirt would be office appropriate, but you totally work it. And I love the coat, very Mad Men. You’re an endless wealth of inspiration, lady!

  13. says

    ah V, you look exquisite here- I love that this doesn’t look over the top but has such fabulous details. I love the feminine cut and color of the coat against the leather and your bag is such a sweet leopard print. LOVE it
    Elle’s latest post: A bet to a better lifestyleMy Profile

  14. says

    V – Love the look! Keep your eye on the bag – that thing is totally awesome and I want one!! :)
    But I break your rule #6 > I have worn a red leather motorcycle to work on casual Friday and I have worn over the knee red leather boots with a dress and with a pair of pants. No one called me MJ or asked how much so either I pulled it off > or my co-workers were polite. I did get quite a few compliments though.
    By and large I agree with your rules – but I am a sucker for red leather!!
    http://www.fashnlvr.blogspot.com
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  15. says

    Great advice! I wish I had a leather skirt. I used to, years ago, but I think we parted quite a few years back.

    I remember when the Gap was selling real suede skirts in kind of that same style. They were a nice knee length a-line and really flattering. I so wanted one but I was really broke at the time. Everything I’m seeing right now is so short. It’s great if you’re young or not going to the office, but what do the rest of us do? Wear our old skirts I suppose.

    Anyway I love your leather look. I used to wear leather jackets to the office a lot when I worked at one, but they were cut more like coats and less like biker jackets, you know.

    Love,
    Heather
    http://heathersdesignblog.com/

    • says

      Thanks, Heather!

      Yes, there are a lot of really short skirts out there, which is probably why I revert to the ones that have been hanging in my closet for 10+ years!

      I know the kind of leather jacket you are talking about. Have had a couple of those too! Actually, I have one now that has a detachable fur collar that I forget about since I leave the collar on it. I need to whip that bad boy out!

  16. says

    I am usually not a big fan of leather, but I love your tips, especially wearing opaque tights with leather, it makes it organic. Also, your advice of not pairing leather with leather is sooooo apt!!! Thanks V,,
    Ambuji’s latest post: From runway to rueMy Profile

  17. says

    V!!! Okay, I definitely had that same skirt form GAP. I worked at GAP my freshman year of college and that is exactly when that skirt came in — winter of 2000 or 2001?? Anyway, I bought it and LOVED it and then I gained the freshman 15 and I had to say good bye. LOL! Fortunately, I replaced it last summer with a button A-line midi leather skirt from the Goodwill for…ding.ding.ding. $9.99. SCORE!!!

    Anyway, you’ve got leather for the office down to a T. The leather catches the eye, but not in a bad way… in a “oooh, she is so chic” way. I love that you paired it with a demure round toe pump and a retro coat… all around FAB!
    Eboni Ife”s latest post: Fun Flats &amp Linea Pelle for TargetMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks, sugar! Who knew that everyone had/has that skirt?! I didn’t until I started reading comments on this post!

  18. says

    I remember wearing leather in the Philippines and it was not really a good idea hahahah the hot climate make me have sweaty legs hahahha and dripping sweat all over my knees not a perfect sight to look at….

    and yes edgy outfit less accessories….not everyone can rock an over the top outfit…you should avoid looking like a christmastree

    Kisses
    sweet
    PensandLens
    @mistytewest

  19. says

    Great advice – leather can look so wrong so easily but not here and not on you. The textures meld together beautifully to make a perfect ensemble
    kavery’s latest post: Simply redMy Profile

  20. says

    Oh yes I wear leather in the office as well and don’t think anything about it and agree about wearing a skirt that’s below the knee. I must confess (for shame) I wore black leather trousers to work maybe four years ago and paired it with a sweater but the swishing when I walk of the sound of the leather made me never wear them again.Your cape reminds me of the vintage cape I have of mother’s. I love purses and this one you have is gorgeous girl!
    JTwisdom’s latest post: Day 16 30 for 30My Profile

  21. says

    absolutely gorgeous!!! this is totally work appropriate but edgy, cool and fun at the same time. i love your worker V outfits because you prove that people don’t need to all dress like clones of each other, with no flavor or personality, just because they are going to work. it’s one of the things that KILLS uptown new york fashion (in my opinion). on the street you pass so many people who dress so completely devoid of personality i actually find it draining and depressing. so then i venture downtown where people remember to live a little. =P

    Kristy Eléna – Full Time Fabulous
    Vogue Gone Rogue
    Twitter: @kristyelena
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    • says

      Thanks Kristy! I feel the same way about the way people dress where I am. There IS room for creativity! But I think it comes down to the fact that some people are just more expressive in what they wear than others.

  22. says

    Yep, I figured out recently that what I love about the leatha I’ve been seeing lately is that the entire ensemble looks almost ladylike, but with one leather piece substituted for something very classic. Like a tuxedo jacket, white blouse, and skinny leather pants instead of say, cigarette pants. And flats. The flats elevate it (so to speak) to something more than the expected stilettos with skinny leathers.

    L-O-V-E your version of leather for the office (and I also love that I found your blog – can’t believe I haven’t come across it before)!!!

    merci,
    Shannan
    merciblahblah’s latest post: FBFF- Beauty &amp The BeatMy Profile

  23. says

    Damn! This look screams of you V! The leather skirt is such an amazing piece. You are the queen of putting together office appropriate looks that still show off your signature style. You look gorgeous and your hair is so shiny and perfect. xoxo
    brookemeagan’s latest post: Please do not disturbMy Profile

  24. says

    I’ve been looking for a skirt just like this for absolutely ages now, and you’ve just made me want one even more – you look like a movie star :) Totally agree that the key is to keep it simple and below the knee – the way you’re wearing it here is absolutely perfect :) (And oh, those shoes!)

  25. says

    Thanks, loves! Glad you think this outfit works and you found my tips helpful. I appreciate all your comments!

  26. Jennifer says

    Hi Vhani!! OMG! what a hot classy lady you are!! I saw you at FTF blog and i stopped to visit you. love your tips. Very helpful.

    • says

      Cassiopeia, thanks for your comment and for visiting! Would love to see that purple leather skirt. I’m not surprised that it gets compliments!

  27. Eric says

    Hi,

    I would like to share that your look is amazing!
    Also, for a date night, I like your look like that! It is classy, sexy, conservative at the same moment!

    Eric

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