5 Easy Ways to Wear Patent Leather Without Looking too Flashy
Patent leather is one of those fabrics that’s sartorially satisfying — when you grab a trench, or pair of boots, you know you're about to go big. But it's a little tough to style in a low-key or professional way. Sure, patent pants are fierce with lace-up boots and biker jackets, but when’s the last time you wore glossy trousers or a slick skirt to a meeting or interview? Exactly. Not quite a go-to in sophisticated scenarios.
The high-shine material can read subversive, but I’m all for shaking up my style and trying new ways into tough trends (here I am figuring out fashion-forward sneakers and all-things yellow for fall). So when I found my way to a pair of patent leather pants from the London-based label Three Floor, after mentally flagging a number of street-style looks over the past few seasons, it felt like my calling to give this a try.
With fall weather in full swing, there's no better time to concoct a handful of edgy-chic outfits with my patent trousers at the crux. How did I do? Witness my new-season foray into patent leather ahead. It’s my hope that by the end, you’ll be adding a pair of patent pants to cart and trying the trend for yourself.
I began my patent trouser journey before the weather truly took a dip, pairing my “Handsome Lady Trousers” (honestly and truly, that’s the style name) with a violet sweatshirt by Tibi and slouchy leather Isabel Marant boots. I was instantly hooked on the glossy sheen which gave the sporty pullover an elevated feel. Meanwhile, the pointed-toe boots elongated my 5-foot-4 frame in a way that felt both flattering and forward — though I do think a sleek leather sneaker in black or white would feel just a cool, but more casual. My Danse Lente bucket offered a bit of contrast for a decidedly fresh effect — for more of a street-style vibe, finish your look with a logo-emblazoned bag.
With the goal of making patent leather pants office-approved, I followed up my sweatshirt-and-boots look with a blazer and mules, which is the photo at the top. My blazer is a vintage find that nips in perfectly at the waist and is just long enough to feel slightly oversized (which was the goal). I’ve been wearing these Dorateymur mules non-stop since summer (they’re still available, here!). For someone who's only recently branched out into wearing color, I found that my patent trousers helped this neutral look, well, shine. My color-blocked Yuzefi bag peeking from behind me helped break up the toned-down palette, too. The finishing touch? Angular earrings from Alex Mika which, I think, are a playfully polished pick when the mood is professional.
A rainy day pretty much calls for patent leather and on one such drizzly afternoon I amped up my cropped glossy pants with a leopard rain jacket by Ganni (so fun, right?). For a color pop, I went with a fitted blue sweater from JoosTricot and coordinating bag by emerging label, Janis Studios — I love the pastel combo as an offset to my darker trousers and coat. I leaned on my footwear M.O, a stark white mule (these are by ASKA), and large gold hoops from Zara for a fashion-forward twist. Most rainy days you’ll catch me in sweats complaining about the humidity’s effect on my hair, but this outfit had me feeling A-okay with the misty forecast.
For a day of meetings, I took my patent pants for a spin, this time with a bubblegum pink knit (also by Ganni), croc-effect mules by The Attico (a similar pair by J.Crew here), and the sleekest white bag by Nico Giani. My confidence was on high in this get-up, warranting numerous compliments from both my fashion-world peers and passersby (though not without a few skeptical eyebrows). The combination of the puff-sleeve sweater and high-shine pants veers trendy and might be a lot for some. To pare it back, a classic crewneck in a bright color is an simpler alternative against the patent leather bottoms.
My patent leather finale fell on another rainy day and this time, I retreated to an all-black look. In an effort to sidestep a snoozy combo, I styled an anorak as a top (mine is by Isabel Marant — this Everlane utility jacket has a similar fit, while this style from Aritzia is suitable for wet weather) and punctuated the look with leopard kitten heels from Ann Taylor (a new-season version here). My Danse Lente tote gave the look a polished finish — the golden keyhole fastenings are subtle yet utterly distinctive. While I’d normally take this black-on-black look for boring, the lustrous sheen of the pants felt like a mild approach to patent leather and a look I’d recommend for those intrigued by the trend, but still feeling skeptical.