How To Wear Leather At The Office: Make It Powerful, Not Provocative

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How to wear leather at the office

If the Prime Minister of the UK can wear leather, so can I.

Although the mass media (and many others) didn’t share my view, there were some major air punching going on in my kitchen last December when Theresa May rocked those divine gold, leather Amanda Wakely trousers. Price issues aside, not only are the strides themselves drool-worthy, but by merely wearing them she’s further legitimised leather’s right to represent in the boardroom. A campaign close to my heart.

You know those buttery soft, transformative leather pieces you reserve for Le Weekend? They now have a seat at the table in the C-suite.

Warning: read this first

I say this with one caveat: read your office dress code first. You never know what crazy restrictions might be lurking in Human Resources’ cache of rules. It’s also a bit of a hoot. So, if you’re ever in need of a distraction from your overflowing inbox (and Facebook is blocked), give it an eyeball.

How to wear leather in the office Theresa May Photograph Austin Hargrave The Sunday Times Magazine News Syndication
Wear leather at the office and channel the power of a PM – Photo credit: Austin Hargrave The Sunday Times Magazine News Syndication

I first set eyes on an office dress code when a Partner in my old law firm issued a firm-wide email stating that “…there has been a noticeable drop in workplace dress standards, please familiarise yourself with the attached dress code.” I.e. someone had worn something inappropriate to the office that day. #scandal We lawyers live riveting lives.

Talk about a productivity dive: we were in hysterics, no one in our team did any work for the rest of the afternoon. “No PVC.” Seriously, they needed to spell that one out? Had someone arrived at work direct from the red light district? (If so, who are you? We should be friends.).“No clogs.” Obviously, the code needs updating given Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2010 revival. “No flannel shirts.” This one is highly prejudicial to Australian men, who in deference to their birthright, habitually flout this rule.

There must be some kind of mistake

The list went on, until suddenly two words pulled the rug right from under my Louboutins:

“no leather”

There was no specific definition of what constituted “leather clothing,” but we lawyers concluded that, on a common sense interpretation, leather in the form of shoes, belts and bags would clearly be excluded from the prohibition. But, it wasn’t clear weather leather jackets on casual Fridays were in or out. Surely, not.

This got me thinking, aside from the obvious carve-outs, is it acceptable to wear leather to work?

Is it acceptable to wear leather to work?

Hell-to-the-yes, it is!

I’m a staunch advocate (and active participant) of incorporating leather pieces (and colours) into work outfits. Not only do they look chic and feminine, but me and my leather trousers are a killer team. When we pair up, I feel brave, feminine and powerful. And if I’m in need of a confidence boost, they’re my first stop. To some extent, I think the right to wear leather is my own modern equivalent to universal suffrage. OK, maybe that’s overstating it. But the prohibition is a symptom of something much greater. I’ll leave it at that.

How to wear leather at the office make it powerful, not provocative photo: chanel.com
Wear leather at the office with these clogs? Photo: chanel.com
Here’s how to wear leather at the office like a boss

Let’s start with casual dress days. Winter is cold, OK. If leather pants were good enough for cave women, they are clearly a necessity and a viable alternative to jeans; provided your top and / or jacket cover your derrier.

The reaction: “Are you wearing chaps?”

My penchant for leather trousers has (generally) been well received. I have, however, been on the receiving end of one adverse comment: it was casual Friday and I was wearing my fav Scanlan Theodore leather slacks. My boss was hosting a client seminar that day and, with five minutes notice, he directed we junior lawyers to mingle with the attendees. I happily trotted in to the room and sparked up a convo with some dude in an ill-fitting suit. That was until he asked me, “…are you wearing chaps.” Say, what?! Being the highly professional advocate that I am, I promptly (and eloquently) said “I don’t like you” and turned to talk to the charming lady to his right. My boss loved it.

Leather me up baby every, single day

Moving on to normal work days: repeat after me, “leather can be done.” I own two leather pencil skirts – one black, one cherry red – and a black leather shift top. They are on regular rotation in my 9 to 5 ‘capsule collection.’

How to wear leather so it’s powerful, not provocative

In order to ensure these pieces are powerful, rather than provocative, the skirts aren’t skin tight. Paired with silk tops, cashmere jumpers or a tailored blazer, they ooze elegance. Oui Oui. I also The top is structured and not figure hugging, it just happens to be leather.

The case for investment

Leather items are great investment pieces. And being able to wear them at work and play makes it easier to justify the price tag. So, be bold. Rock those stunning leather trousers at Monday’s team meeting and you’ll be unstoppable.

Lucy xx

Want to know more about Lucy the legal eagle’s sartorial stories? Here you go!
Meet Lucy

Re-defining the uniform of the female lawyer, Lucy is living proof that humour, intelligence and a whole lotta’ sass are not mutually exclusive. Our resident office apropos expert doesn’t let being a commercial legal eagle get in the way of her penchant for fashion. She revels in bringing a little flair and joie de vivre to her workday wardrobe, and to yours. In fact, the most challenging part of her job is coordinating the perfect outfit in readiness to tackle whatever her working day throws her way. IMHO, she’s more than up to the task.

How to wear leather at the office

Cover photo credit: harperandharley.com

2 Comments
  1. […] Yes. As I wrote, here. I’m a staunch advocate of (and active participant in) incorporating leather pieces (and […]

  2. […] get the scoop on all the candid, hilariously real 9-to-5 experiences, life hacks and fashion advice direct from career women on the front […]

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