Never Too Old To Wear Leather

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Picture this. Years ago, in the late nineties or early two thousands, I was at a book club meeting. One of our members, an older lady, my mum’s age actually, left the room, and I turned to my friends and fellow book lovers and made a comment about her outfit. She was wearing bright red leather trousers, low-heeled boots, and a soft loose sweater. And she looked magnificent. Was, in fact, a magnificent woman. Tall, and big-boned, and totally comfortable in her own skin. A woman whom I admired immensely.

And I remember murmuring to my friends, “God, I hope I’m still wearing leather pants when I’m in my seventies.” My friend Susan replied, dryly, “First you have to start wearing leather pants.” Ha. Too true.

I always, always loved clothes. Back then, in my early forties, I tried to be stylish. Certainly, I cared enough about my clothes. But I aimed for polished, not flamboyant. I couldn’t pull off flamboyant. Anyway, it’s long been my belief that one is either a red leather pants person, or one is not. And I am not.

But I am, as I discovered a few years ago, a black leather pants person. And I hope to still be wearing black leather pants when I am well up in my seventies. Or eighties. Because I believe that we are never too old for leather pants. Or leather anything. Or anything, really. We should wear whatever suits us.

Woman in tan linen jacket, black sweater and black leather pants, vintage bag. Rideau River behind.
My black leather pants, black cashmere sweater & tan linen jacket.

I began to think about the issue of age and leather pants a week or so ago. In response to my post on faux leather, Mary commented that she has a pair of leather pants, but has yet to wear them in public because they make her feel a bit like mutton dressed as lamb. Maybe women our age tend to think of leather (or faux leather) as too edgy for us? That leather clothing is the province of the young and not the middle-aged? I don’t know. But I do know that if we love something, we should wear it.

Sometimes it’s a matter of our “eye” evolving. Like when skinny jeans began to fade out, and wider leg jeans became more common. At first the wide-leg pants looked all wrong to me. Now they look just right. When I first bought my leather pants back in 2014, I felt a bit self-conscious in them. Like I was pretending to be way more cool than I am. Now they just seem, well, so me.

I think that if we own a piece of clothing we love, but don’t feel comfortable wearing it, we should try it with other pieces in which we feel very comfortable. Like Allison Bornstein’s method of taking our “how” pieces, those things that we don’t know how to wear, and styling them with our closet “regulars”, those pieces we wear all the time. For me jackets and loafers have been part of my closet “regulars” for decades. If I were to wear these faux-leather pants for the first time, I’d probably style them with a sweater and a jacket. And loafers, or ankle boots.

Woman in tan linen jacket, black sweater and black leather pants, vintage bag. Rideau River behind.
HR pants, Everlane sweater, Max Mara jacket, Stuart Weitzman loafers.

Yesterday, I tried a few new ways to wear my old leather pants. For spring. First I tried my ancient linen Max Mara blazer. I pulled on my new Everlane crew-neck cashmere sweater that had just been delivered that morning. I’ve been waiting a year to buy this sweater. I tried ordering it last spring, but they were out of stock. So when the Everlane cashmere sale came up the other day, I jumped on it. My new cashmere crew sweater is black, size large, and very light-weight. Just the thing I need when it’s too cool for a tee shirt.

I turned the hem of my pants up inside to make them seem cropped. Added my Stuart Weitzman patent loafers, a vintage bracelet and a vintage faux-croc bag. I like this look. It’s a bit safe, though. Kind of been there, done that. With the tan linen jacket, this look might have been “me” when I was still working. But not anymore.

To be honest, I prefer the outfit with my white Theory jacket, and my Eric Javits tote bag. I thought the white jacket would look too summery next to the leather pants and cashmere sweater, but turns out I love it. This is more me.

Not too old to wear leather pants. White Theory jacket, black HR leather pants, black cashmere Everlane crew neck sweater. Stuart Weitzman loafers, Eric Javits bag,
Same outfit as above with my white Theory blazer.

But I did like the tan linen jacket with a white, short-sleeve Vince tee underneath, my white Stan Smith sneakers, and my Eric Javits straw tote. I love white with tan or camel and black. Somehow the blazer looks more menswear-inspired, and more current with the sneakers and tee shirt. This outfit makes me feel like me. Casual, still current (I hope), in a colour scheme I’ve been wearing for years and years, made up of pieces that are mostly old and well worn, styled in a way I’ve never tried before.

Max Mara vintage jacket, white Vince tee, Holt Renfrew leather pants, Stan Smith Adidas.
I like the jacket better with Stan Smith sneakers & a white Vince tee.

It’s always a battle as we age, isn’t it? What should we wear? What shouldn’t we wear? I’m not talking about what rule books or fashion critics tell us we should or shouldn’t wear. I’m talking about those conversations we have with ourselves.

What should I wear that makes me feel like my best self? The self I am today. Not ten years ago when I was still working, was several pounds lighter, and needed a professional wardrobe. Not last year when I had dyed, highlighted blond hair. But this year when I’m retired, a few pounds heavier, white-headed, with a few low-lights, and a hairstyle that in some ways resembles my mother when I was young, swept back and high off the forehead.

I am determined to dress for me, and what I feel like today. So the conversation I have with myself as I scroll through Pinterest, shuffle hangers around in my closet, try on tops and bottoms, shoes and boots, discarding some, embracing others is always changing. Sometimes it results in my wearing outfits I’ve worn in the past. Sometimes it results in my questioning why I EVER wore an outfit. But I don’t think, at least I hope I never begin to think, that I’m too old to wear leather pants. They’ve become a sort of symbol to me. A symbol of charting my own course, sartorially speaking.

Looking out over the Rideau in white jacket and black leather pants and loafers.
Distracted by a goose fight on the river.

I don’t think that my mother ever wore leather anything. Maybe a cast off jacket of my sister’s that she pulled out of the hall closet to run out to the barn and yell for my stepfather to come to the phone. Doesn’t mean, though, that she accepted the dictates of society with respect to aging. I mean, she did learn to drive the tractor to be able to help my stepfather hay in her sixties. Started using a treadmill we bought her in her late seventies. And owned her first computer in her eighties. She’s always loved clothes; it’s just that the conversation about aging and outfits was not one in which she had time to partake.

But, I’m not my mum. Our lives have taken very different courses. We are in most ways two very different people. And in other ways exactly the same. Especially that swept back quiff of white hair in the front. Ha.

So my friends, do you think you’re too old for leather pants? Have the conversations you have with yourself about clothes changed over the years? You know, those arguments you have with yourself about what you want to wear, as you sift through drawers and shuffle hangers.

P.S. I apologize for the dark and dreary photos today. It rained for much of the week. And as you can see by the lowering sky, I just managed to squeeze these photos in before it rained again.

P.P.S. There are a few affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a commission.

Linking up with Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb and #IWillWearWhatILike.

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48 thoughts on “Never Too Old To Wear Leather”

  1. I like them in theory but not on me. A good few years ago, I saw a pair of suede trousers and fell in love but realised my legs were simply too fat. Some time later, well into marathon training, my legs were transformed and I went back and tried them on again, promising myself that if they fitted, they were mine. However…when I put them on and looked in the mirror, they simply weren’t me. Yes, I could have had them but no, I didn’t want them. It is the being me bit that makes all the difference. Every year I think: oh, a lovely floaty tea dress. But in reality, once on, just totally wrong. You can only wear what fits your personality, never mind your rear end. I love your loafers, btw.

  2. Ha, light-bulb moment! I never thought of turning the hem up inside the pants.
    My mother had a beautiful green leather skirt suit in the sixties. She looked smashing but never felt comfortable wearing it. My brothers’ teasing and my father’s jokes didn’t help and she gave it away. I was “devastated”, I couldn’t wait to grow up and wear it. But her dark blue coat was mine for several years, before my sister snatched it :-).

    1. I have done it with these leather trousers many time. I don’t want to hem them permanently. And the fabric folds nicely and stays folded.

  3. The white blazer and shoes look is my favourite look on you. It looks so fresh and takes the leather into a warmer season. Personally, I am not a leather person. I had leather pants and skirts in the 80’s and really never felt comfortable wearing them. When I was offered a leather coat for a Christmas, any one I wanted at the Acton leather store, I was not able to find one that felt like me, so instead went for a cloth one instead. I do like the look on someone else who can wear them with confidence but I will stick with what works for me and makes me feel fantastic. Enjoy wearing your leather for the next few decades of style. Have a good day, and enjoy the sun that we are to get this week.

  4. I agree with you. We all probably have a “leather pants” item that we love on others but are fearful we can’t pull it off. Baby steps. I like your idea of wearing something new to us with something familiar and well loved.
    As always, something to think about as we all walk the age path.
    xo,
    Karen

  5. I have just bought a pair of Brochu Walker brown faux leather, wide legged, cropped pants. At first I thought of them as a bit of a wild buy but who knew that they go with everything! Sweater and boots to tee and sandals. Love them and am now more willing to give leather or faux a chance!

  6. The closest I have come to leather are a pair of brushed leather jeans that I have had for years and love. I would like to find a leather jacket but so far any I have tried on seem to be too harsh of a look for me. Perhaps I need to look for softer colours or accept the fact that a leather jacket is just not me. I am still on the hunt though so no, I don’t feel I am too old for leather. The clothing argument I was having with myself was hoodies. What changed my mind was seeing that lovely green cashmere on you Sue and how you styled it. Then ahead of me in the grocery line on Friday was a woman in her late 70’s/early 80’s wearing a grey hoodie with blue jeans. I’m sold and will be on the hunt for one in the Fall.

  7. I had a beautiful stylish Mom. She dressed in what she liked and always looked great. When my daughter was in high school, in the late 1980’s, all three of us wore Gap clothes. We even did our own little photo shoot. Mom was in her seventies.

    I think wearing leather into our later years, if it feels right, is the “bomb”! I have never had leather pants, but I am trying to wear new and more adventurous items. I love Advanced Style and admire those beautiful women and their creative, artful and impressive style.

  8. I love my leather pants! I am 78 and always feel fabulous wearing them – especially with a silk shirt or cashmere sweater. In fact, I think I’ll wear them today!

  9. I run too warm to wear leather pants but I love the look, just the right amount of edge. You have styled them well especially with the white blazer and sneakers. You look au courant and classic, a great combination.

  10. I agree,both the post and the comments are great!
    Your leather pants look still stylish and you look amazing in them.
    I’m still jealous-this MM jacket is wonderful!
    I agree that one has to “own” the clothes one is wearing,it is simply like that,to feel comfortable and like oneself. It sometimes demands a lot of trying and musings ,because there are things we like for years,but on others,not on ourselves. But,it could also happen a magic moment-with a different styling and changes with years and body measurements…….
    I love leather jackets,a lot,it is one of my basics……
    My leather trousers are wider than yours ,ankle lenght-love to wear them with cashmere sweater and a coat , the weather rarely permitts combination with blazers
    Dottoressa

  11. I thank you for not only the link to the Everlane cashmere sweater sale but for sharing your personal size. I already own two Everlane cashmere sweaters that I don’t really “love”. The striped cashmere (M) crewneck is being given to my younger (and smaller) sister. The ivory cashmere cardigan (M) is still in my closet but I’m not certain how to style it quite yet. I find it to be quite sheer.
    Maybe the third time is the trick. I’ve ordered a black in size large. If the wonderfully slim Sue Burpee can wear a large so can I! 🤗. Thank you, Sue!

    1. Upon re-reading my comment, I’m thinking it sounds rather impolite…as if there is something wrong with the large size. Definitely NOT my intention. Apologies!

      1. Hi Charlene,
        I hope you don’t mind me commenting but I understand what you mean! Thanks to Sue I ordered a large in a Vince sweater when normally a medium works well and the difference was amazing. The medium definitely fit fine but the large looked and consequently felt, so much better!
        Rosie

        1. Hi Rosie…love that my comment resonated with you. Sue gave us the example that the fit, not the size (number/letter), should determine our purchase. Some brands do cater to that concept of “vanity sizing”.

    2. Size large in tees and sweaters etc always fits me at Everlane. Hope you like yours. I find it quite light-weight, but that’s what I wanted.

  12. No, I don’t have any leather pants, but I do have a pair of black Eileen Fisher slim ankle pants. I decided to try to copy your outfits with these pants, but that turned out to be impossible. The outfit I finally came up with that I love is: black EF pants, white tee, white sneakers, medium blue denim chore jacket and light tan Eric Javits tote bag (that matches my blonde hair). Yes, this breaks the 3-color rule, but I decided it didn’t really matter since the bag matches my hair so closely.
    I love playing with clothes, just as you do. I’m in my 70s, and don’t give a hoot about what’s age appropriate. I may look into buying some black leather pants, but not right now when the weather is getting too warm to wear them.
    This is the first time I’ve commented. Thank you for having such an interesting and useful blog.

    1. The Eric Javits bag is a neutral as far as I’m concerned. Your outfit sounds lovely. I love a white tee and white sneakers with many combinations of pants and jackets. Most of the time I can’t copy other people’s outfits… something always has to change. Either the top I own is the wrong proportion, or the pants too long or too cropped. We use the idea of the outfit and recreate it for ourselves. 🙂

  13. Inspired by you, I recently bought black faux leather pants, straight leg, 7/8ths length. I was a bit nervous about wearing them, but with a cream linen tee, a tan linen jacket and tan loafers, I felt cool, and my friends were very complimentary. A couple of weeks later I wore them out to a restaurant with a black cami under a floaty white top and white/ silver high heeled sandals, and felt very chic. I forsee many opportunities ahead to wear them, thanks as always for the inspiration.
    Jules

  14. I love leather pants….they are the best pants for Winter in Canada because they are wind-proof. If it is cold Icebreaker wool leggings underneath makes them cozy and warm.
    My pants are ALWAYS going to be full length not crops or 7/8 or any other such length where my ankles hang out…..why, because I will never be comfortable in “high water” pants. My legs are very long and growing up my pants were always too short and the teasing from back then is lurking waiting to pop in to remind me not to wear high water pants any time I should be trying them on.

  15. “I am determined to dress for me..” Love your statement, and I really love your neutral outfits. Yesterday I wore a striped t shirt, with a black hooded top over it but it was too cold to go out in that, so I added a camel trench coat and pulled the hooded part of the top out so it showed. Got several compliments about it. I would never have thought to do that if I hadn’t seen it on you in the past. so thank you

  16. Hi Sue … definitely wear what you feel great in, as you do in your leather pants. You look great in them too!
    I think it’s all to do with what you wear them with and with cashmere and a stylish jacket they look pretty good!
    I’ve never owned leather trousers or a jacket but I’d happily wear them if I found the right ones. In fact, I’d love a leather moto jacket. 😊
    I’ve been wondering how your mum is? Any news re her vaccination?
    Rosie xxx
    Rosie

    1. Thanks, Rosie. Mum has finally had her shot. She’s still in hospital in a rehabilitation ward. She’s been exercising daily, and has moved to more independent exercises this week. Fingers crossed she may be able to go home in a week or so. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  17. ‘You can only wear what fits your personality’
    Absolute truth thank you Annie Green for writing that. The epitome of mutton dressed as lamb is an older woman trying to pull off leather clothing the same way a woman in her teens or twenties would. ( we have all been witness to that travesty)Stiletto heels, cropped sweater, maybe over the knee boots, head to toe leather? Somehow the young get away with ‘costume’ because they are still finding their ‘style’. Some will wear leather forever but change how they style it over time. I wore leather minis with thigh high boots in my very young days or with ( perfectly)ripped tights and Doc Martens and a cropped jean jacket to the horror of my mother. Today I would wear the skirt ( longer) with intact tights and yes to the Docs and no to the thigh highs or (God forgive me) scarlet red stilettos!!! You taught high school so you’ve seen ALL the looks, no? I was newly released from convent school to public high school so went a bit bezerk:) Any way not everyone can or should wear leather certainly not if they feel awkward or just uncomfortable. I adore your black leather pants they are not skinny nor wide, worth the investment and you look and feel good in them. They ring true for you…Gold!!
    One year my parents got loose at Danier and purchased each other very expensive black leather ‘car’ coats for Christmas…when my brother went to pick them up for dinner he said ‘I thought it was the KGB approaching my vehicle…’ not the image my staunchly socialist leaning parents were aiming for. The coats were donated the following winter…an $$$lesson in purchasing leather clothing that doesn’t suit the wearer’s personality..

    1. I agree heartily. I wear many of my old pieces differently now. Not only because styles have changed but also because I have changed. That KGB comment made me laugh out loud! 🙂

  18. You look so good. Like, so good.

    I remember going to Hamburg on business once, and so many people wore leather trousers, and I appreciated the look and was so clear that it wasn’t mine, both at once.

  19. John Ellermann

    I still wear Leather Pants several color’s and styles, and I’m a male age 50, and I hope to still buy more leather pants, and continue to wear for several more years.

  20. Google Gisela Friedrichsen, a German journalist in her 70s. She looks smashing in her tight-fitting leather pants.

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