Style Trial | Patent leather clothing

patent leather clothing fashion trend

Patent pencil skirts by ASOS and Valentino

We’re all used to seeing patent leather used on shoes and handbags, but this season patent leather clothing is set to take over. So, what do we make of it?

This trend mostly revolves around skirts: The Fashion Police’s officers have already identifies several pencil skirt suspects, and there are a large number of full midi skirts out there too, with a patent (or mock patent, as the case may be: the high street’s take on the patent leather clothing trend doesn’t generally extend to real leather) finish. Skirts aren’t the only items getting the high-shine treatment, though, and you’ll also find shirts, jackets, and even the odd pair of patent pants, too. The mind boggles.

This is one of those looks that requires careful styling to make it work. Done right, the wet-look effect can add a lot of interest to a basic skirt, and in the case of some of the midi-length full skirts, it’s a good way to modernise a look some might consider just a little too “safe”, or even frumpy. Done WRONG, however, there’s just no getting away from the fact that a cheap patent shirt, for instance, can end up looking a lot like a refuse sack, and be “tacky” rather than “edgy”.

So, how do you wear patent leather clothing: assuming, of course, that you actually WANT to? The trick to pulling this one off is to make the patent piece the focal point of the outfit, and to offset the shine with another texture – wool, say, or one of those fluffy sweaters we showcased recently.

With that said, this definitely isn’t a look for everyone and the high-drama, “Look at me” feel of patent leather clothing is going to put a lot of people off, and is probably best avoided unless you’re sure you can pull it off.

What do you think of patent leather clothing: is it innocent or guilty of committing crimes of fashion?

GALLERY: Patent leather clothing

(Click the image to go to the retailer’s website)


  • August 29, 2013


    Looks like a Couch!

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  • August 30, 2013


    Mostly what seems to be the problem with this style for me is that you would get so sweaty underneath it. Since I live in Colorado, even the thought of wearing a patent-leather pencil skirt makes me start overheating – any stylishness would be offset by the fact that your legs and “undercarriage” would be totally disgustingly sweaty all day long! And in winter, too. The stuff doesn’t breathe – you’d get sweaty even in cold weather. I sort of like the look, but it’s just completely out of the question for the climate I live in.

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    • September 5, 2013


      It does breathe when it’s good quality. I never noticed that patent leather shoes or boots were any sweatier than, say, nappa, and I had several of them because of our rainy wheather.

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  • September 2, 2013


    I love PVC and latent leather, but it’s really a lower half or accessories thing – that shirt just looks like a desperate attempt to restyle an old plastic raincoat.

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