My day in hot pink leather shorts

My day in hot pink leather shorts

The market editor of Vogue raids her wardrobe for that item she has never dared wear before . . . 

leather shorts Emma Elwick with her leather shorts Photograph: Linda Nylind

I like Roxy Music but I’ve never seen myself reflected in Amanda Lear’s dominatrix leathers on the For Your Pleasure cover. I walk a whippet not a panther and I’m predominantly made of denim. Or am I? A quick wardrobe tally and I find three biker jackets, a teeny miniskirt, black leather walking shorts and some jodhpurs.

There’s one other hide, hiding in my wardrobe. Shocking vintage raspberry leather shorts. I happened upon them in a flea market in Paris. They reminded me of that Chloë-in-Chloé moment . . . style chancer Sevigny in the tomato bloomers from Hannah MacGibbon’s debut collection – all gazelle gams and getting away with it. After a moment of attempted self-asphyxiation (with nowhere to disrobe, I applied the “circumference of one’s neck is half that of one’s waist” theory), I parted with my €30. Call it a combination of the right circumstances and the right company. “Wear them immediately,” encouraged Matthew Stone, artist, and Gareth Pugh: “They are the perfect drummer-boy lederhosen“. I packed them up and within darkest environs of the closet they stayed.

Until now . . . it’s time for me to wear them in earnest. I’d forgotten how high-waisted and 80s they were. Grace Jones via Von Trapp? I dressed down the panto factor with a simple navy American Apparel T-shirt, a mannish grey cardigan and spindly Alaïa sandals. If I’m set to make this statement, a demure covering of the arm and an elongating heel are a must.

After a quick walk of the dog (perplexing the builders on my street), I arrive at work. Leather shorts are an acceptable dress code at this particular office, but even here they are not the most practical work-wear option. Sitting in the editor’s office for a meeting, I immediately regret taking the window seat. Leather does get rather warm, so perhaps I shall put the shorts away until November and bring them back out with dotty tights and cheeky cuissardes.

The heat notwithstanding, leather is a confident look for uncertain times. It comes with a high cost-per-wear ratio but remains cool and empowering – just maybe not in hot pink.

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Why leather is back in style

It’s big on the catwalks already. But why? And how do you wear it?

Leather outfits

Hot leather outfits Photograph: guardian.co.uk

Fashion, like school, starts a new term in September. This year the trend with early form is leather, which has featured heavily in the early autumn editions of Vogue (hence Pixie Geldof in a shoot headlined “Leather Rebel”) as well as on the red carpet.

Chloë Sevigny, always a trailblazer for a difficult trend, sported a black leather, dungaree jumpsuit at a fashion bash in New York back in July. A month later, the fabric went A-list when Angelina Jolie chose a strapless, black leather shift for an Inglourious Basterds premiere (she has previous leather experience on the red carpet, having worn a floor-skimming gown for the premiere of Mr & Mrs Smith in 2005). More amenably for ordinary folk, a week later Agyness Deyn (right) teamed a leather pencil skirt with a Rocky Horror Picture Show T-shirt tucked neatly into her waistband. That felt like less of a flashy statement. In this latest reincarnation leather does seem less harsh. Instead it’s grown-up and glossy, with a hint of a biker reference and that brooding insouciance at which French Vogue so excels. Witness the leatherised power dressing that opened the Yves Saint Laurent show for autumn.

As comebacks go, it’s well timed. Harriet Quick, fashion features director of Vogue, argues that as a fabric leather suggests “investment” (and, indeed, even on the high street, it is not cheap). Ever since the recession, fashion labels have realised the attractiveness of items that have wardrobe longevity. Of course, the “It” bag, which dominated for the best part of this decade, had already trained the fashion-conscious to see leather goods as investment purchases, and thereby to spend more on them. The big fashion houses must be hoping it’s a practice that carries over to leather clothing.

“What’s appealing is the numerous ways leather is in fashion,” says Quick. “From mini-skirted trophy dresses at Balmain, to jackets, and even washed leather dungarees at YSL.” The high-street, from Marks & Spencer (whose leather shift was an early hit this time last year) to Kate Moss at Topshop (a pencil skirt and a floor-length mac).

But how should you wear leather? Rebecca Lowthorpe, fashion features director at Elle, thinks she has found a way to mix all the Gallic leather sexiness you could dream of, in a far more practical way. She says this season it’s all about the biker jacket but worn like a louche French actress. “Think breton T-shirt, cropped jeans, flats, big shades and a pout”