Age-Wise Style: Shopping for Faux Fur, Shearling, and Leather

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I remember when you could immediately tell the difference between faux fur and real fur just by looking, but these days I am often hard-pressed to tell the difference even by touching. The same can be said for faux shearling and faux leather. But along with more realistic materials have come higher prices. If you prefer not to wear real fur or real leather for ethical reasons—or for financial ones—there are some fantastic, luxe-looking options available at a range of prices (personally, I can’t bear the idea of wearing a real fur coat, but I do wear leather shoes. One step at a time…).

Designer Stella McCartney, whose animal activism was deeply ingrained by her late mother Linda was at the forefront of making luxury products (coats, shoes, bags) out of vegan-approved materials. Now many top designers and brands have similarly chic offerings and they can be surprisingly warm and cozy.

I love a fluffy piece of outerwear (like the DKNY style above, $695; or an accessory to add texture to a monochromatic or tonal outfit when the temperature drops. One of my favorite tricks is to layer my faux fox vest under a lightweight coat—the look is rich and I get more wear out of transitional pieces.

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Shop: Vanessa Bruno Athé vest, $412; Imposter hat, $225; Stuart Weitzman over-the-knee boots, $675; Aquatalia snow boots, $575; MM6 Maison Margiela tote, $230;

A faux leather pant, skirt, or jacket also ups your cool factor. Look for clean shapes in muted or natural colors. Nothing too tight or bright!

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Shop: Joe Fresh jacket, $60; Stella McCartney tote, $1,055; Stella McCartney leggings, $770; Marc by Marc Jacobs pleated skirt, $486; MSGM pencil skirt, $300;

One caveat: Last year a number of brands were fined by the FTC for passing off garments containing real animal hair as faux. If you are very concerned about this possibility, one way to find out for sure is to pluck a few fibers and light a match to them. Faux fibers will smell like plastic; real fur will smell like burnt hair. We know, we know, sounds gross, but it's a tip that won't steer you wrong.

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