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).