You may have noticed some posts from our friends at the Strategist on the Cut. They’ll be dropping in every now and again, sharing their expertise on the basics you don’t have time to research and the weird and wonderful things you don’t yet know you need.
After months of loafing around the house in nothing but loungewear, we know it’ll be a hard sell to get you into “hard pants,” as they say. But can we offer you leather leggings instead? We can’t promise they’ll be as comfortable as, say, your baggy sweats — although some of our experts swear they are — but they’re sure to be a nice foray into real clothes again for those heading back into the office or enjoying the last of the outdoor activities for the season. And since we know lots of faux-leather looks, well, faux, we consulted 12 experts for the ones that actually look real and are worth the money. Below you’ll find everything from pull-on to side-zip, patent to bubblegum pink.
Best overall faux-leather leggings
These are our most-recommended faux-leather leggings, with three of the cool people we spoke to name-checking this SPANX pair as their favorite. Some of the leggings on this list are a bit more structured and resemble more of a pant, but these fit “like an actual legging with a faux-leather look,” says stylist Rasheena Liberté
. That means you get the leather look with all the comfort of athleisure. Liberté says that also makes them “the perfect starter legging.” They come in a wide range of sizes — the inseam comes in petite, regular, and tall, and the sizing goes from extra-small to 3X. And because they’re from SPANX, who specialize in shapewear, our experts tell us they’re quite “slimming,” a factor Bronté Laurent, the designer behind
par Bronté Laurent
, is intrigued by. She doesn’t own them yet, but said they were next on her list of leather leggings to purchase after spotting them on a friend, who “praised their comfort and how easy they were easy to slide into,” she adds. “This is rare since I find faux-leather extremely hard to actually get into. There is usually some struggle from my experience.” Despite the struggle, she still thinks leather leggings are a closet essential. Fashion writer Belle Bakst, known as Little Fashion Stylist on Instagram, thinks these are a staple because they feel comfortable yet look polished. She says, “Whether you’re layering with a band tee, an oversize sweater in a bright color, or just running out to grab a coffee, you’ll feel put together enough to run into someone you know.”
Another SPANX favorite is this patent-leather pair, an even more elevated version of our most popular faux-leather legging. “I love a black patent-leather legging worn with an oversize hoodie or T-shirt and cowboy boots — or Uggs for the colder months,” says Devine Blacksher, associate fashion editor at the Cut. “It gives a comfortable casual look some edge.” Liberté agrees, saying this option is “for the person looking to take a risk,” as it’s more of a statement piece. “It’s shiny, it’s bold, and it’s memorable,” she says. And because these are SPANX brand, it’s no surprise that the compression feature is a big sell. “My favorite part of this legging is the attention to detail in the waist that gives support to the extra tummy area we all despise without compromising the overall style,” she says.
Best faux-leather leggings under $50
If you already have black leather leggings you love, Dawn Ellerbe, a former Olympian turned plus-size fashion influencer, suggests this H&M pair. “I love that they come in five rich colors for fall and winter,” she says. And Ellerbe thinks the olive green, burgundy, and gray might actually be more versatile than you think if you style it right, especially because it has a universally flattering high waist. “They have the polish of a pant with the comfort of leggings. Even while many of us are still working from home, these give loungewear a stylish upgrade,” adds Ellerbe.
Real leather is actually pretty cozy, but warmth can vary when you’re talking about faux-leather. That’s why Baskt likes this thermal-lined option. “Prevent the cold from ruining your #ootd with a pair of the Calzedonia faux-leather leggings,” she says. “They’re thermal on the inside, keeping you warm, toasty, and still cute.” And, unlike many of the leggings on this list, these come in shades other than black. The colorway shown here is what the company calls “yellow dark gold,” but they also come in dark gray, wine purple, and, of course, black.
If you want your faux-leather leggings to feel more like pants, but you like the seamless look of pull-on leggings, consider this pair with a zipper on the side. While blogger Aysha Sow doesn’t own these herself, she’d like to — she says she’s especially impressed by the style and cut. And that’s to mention nothing of the price. For less than $40, you’re getting the seamed look of some of the other (more expensive) leggings.
Liberté says “Zara is a great place to shop for high fashion dupes,” and these leggings are no exception. Not only are they affordable, she says, but the leather (albeit fake) looks nice and not plasticy as sometimes faux-leather leggings are. “In real life, the leatherette look is spot on and adds a high fashion touch to any outfit,” she says. She does note that the sizing runs a little small so “if you have curves, be sure to size up.” These also have a hidden zipper at the hip — in black with fabric covering it — so from all angles you can get that seamless look.
Another Zara favorite, this one’s different than the above — and everything else on the list. Instead of the tapered leg, this pair is cropped and flared more like a boot cut jean, making them look more like an actual pair of pants. Sow owns this pair and says she loves both the style and the fit.
Yet another Zara favorite, this pair comes recommended by Sow, who says they have two front slits at the hem that “make your legs look longer.” They are also comfortable, she adds, and “really hug the body.” That could be due to Zara’s so-called “bi-stretch technology” that promises to help them stretch in every direction.
To Katie Sturino, founder of Megababe and body positive activist, the best part about these leggings designed by model Hunter McGrady is the size range, which goes up to 5X. They come in five colors — including an unexpected olive green — and though they only have a 27-inch inseam, Sturino, who’s tall herself, loves “where they hit at the ankle.”
Kamara Williams, founder of Kharma Media and In Thing, says “faux-leather leggings are a must for two reasons: they’re super versatile and have a major style pay off.” Because these have a button and functional back pockets, she thinks they can actually “substitute for your jeans.”
Best faux-leather leggings under $100
These faux-leather leggings, which have a zipper hidden at the back, will give you a sleek seamless look. According to Blacksher, they’re a medium weight and have a center seam that “makes these great for a more dressed up look paired with your statement winter coat.”
Laurent says she’s “utterly in love with” these ruched vegan leather leggings. “It’s not too often you see a nice ruched legging, so when I first spotted these on a young woman in Soho, I immediately stopped her in her tracks to ask where she got them,” she adds. Maniere Devoir, a U.K. brand that ships internationally, prides themselves on their fit, claiming they “measure each and every piece on a model for pieces that are tailor-made to you,” an aspect Laurent says comes across in the garments. “I especially love how these leggings hug my body,” she says. “Notice I use ‘hug’ because the fit does not only form perfectly around my curves but they’re comfortable.”
Linh Niller, a New York City–based model and stylist, calls these Abercrombie leggings a “great everyday pair” because they’re “easy on the wallet.” They’re not the most inexpensive pair on the list, but these have a zipper detail on the ankle, making them a bit more special than your average pull-on faux-leather leggings. Plus, Niller notes they’re “super comfortable.”
This is another faux–patent leather legging, but with even more edge than the aforementioned SPANX pair, due to the front slits. “This Blank NYC patent legging is the definition of cool and polished,” says Bakst. “The front slits are perfect for accentuating a pair of pointy toe pumps … or your favorite sneakers.”
Commando comes recommended to us by Blacksher, who wears them when she’s “feeling spicy.” She owns the now sold-out crocodile version, but Chloe Anello — one of the writers of this piece — owns the plain faux-leather leggings from them as well, and she warns that they’re very tight and that you should definitely consider sizing up, but promises they feel comfortable once you get in them. Plus, “they actually look real,” she says.
For less form-fitting leggings, Mandy Madden Kelley, founder of Pagerie, suggests this slightly more pant-like pair from Banana Republic that are her “favorites for a more sophisticated, yet fashionable legging.” The pintuck detail on the front adds a bit of a modern flair, and Kelley says if you pair them with a “structured blazer,” you’ll “look like you just got off a fashion week runway show.” The leggings go up to a size 20 and while they’re slightly cropped, they do come in three inseam lengths — including a tall version with a 31-inch inseam.
Best faux-leather leggings under $150
For those who like to keep their leggings to workouts, these Day Won leggings recommended by Ellerbe will allow you to get in on the faux-leather legging trend in and out of the gym. They only have “a touch of leather in case you’re not ready for full leather pants,” adds Ellerbe. She describes these as “edgy and laid back at the same time.” But the best part is that they’re size inclusive, going up to a size 32.
“As a resident curvy girl, House of CB gets it right when it comes to pants that actually fit my body shape,” says Gisele Milan Smith, public relations coordinator for Sienna Naturals. Smith typically avoids faux-leather leggings because when you have a curvy frame, she explains, “even if they are high-waisted, they rarely actually stay up on my waist, resulting in a low rise moment I did not consent to.” These leggings changed her mind because “they have the same elasticity as a traditional legging but have belt loops and a zip front to mitigate any sagging.” Plus, they look real, she promises.
Laurent found these biker style leather leggings on Etsy, of all places, and says “they fit my frame nicely and I like that at first glance you would think they were an actual pant” rather than a legging. She adds that “the ribbed knee panels and embellished metal zippers give it a grudge feel that has made these my perfect nightlife leather leggings.” She also likes that they’re versatile. “I’ve worn these with a leather bra and leopard print faux-fur coat to a festival and raved the night away,” she says. “I plan on also pairing these with an oversized cashmere sweater and my Dr. Martens on my next date.”
Two of the experts describe this pair as remarkably comfortable, with Niller, calling them “buttery soft.” She owns the cropped version, while Caroline Pirozzolo, public relations coordinator for Bumble and Bumble, prefers the full-length style. “I’ve had other leather pants and leggings in the past that have been wildly uncomfortable, and these are the opposite.” Pirozzolo has an “extremely long torso,” yet the rise on these are “high enough to be flattering” for her, and Niller notes that this pair “contours to your body and doesn’t get baggy or loose” — they keep the legging appearance at every inch. And if like Pirozzolo, you’re “not a full price type of gal,” she recommends checking out resale sites like Poshmark, where she found a used pair in great condition.
Aritzia’s leggings landed as one of our runner-ups to our best overall faux-leather leggings, but if you’d prefer a more pant-like version of those same buttery soft leggings we mentioned earlier, Niller suggests these, which have “a more polished look.”
But if you’d actually prefer pants
Williams also suggests pants “if you’re not into the skin tight legging look” or aren’t quite ready to give up your sweatpants yet. According to Williams, these are extremely comfortable thanks to the baggy fit and flexible material. “It’s a great option to wear in place of your trousers, too, and pairs well with both sleek and chunky knits,” she adds. We’re featuring the regular sizes here, but they’re also offered in petite sizes.
“These are awesome because they are an alternative to leather leggings,” says Sturino. They have an elastic waist, so they’re sure to be as comfy as leggings without the skin-tight feeling, and Sturino confirms they “feel like sweatpants.” Plus, they have pockets and if you’re all stocked up on black leather pants, they come in an unexpected bubblegum pink that’ll brighten up your wardrobe.
“If there’s anything we’ve all gotten comfortable with over the last six to eight months, it’s wearing either our leggings or jogging pants constantly. But what if you could have both styles in a more elevated design,” asks Kelley. To her, these joggers from Commando are the perfect combination of the two and a great transition into wearing real pants after months in sweatpants. “The fit and style of these pants are roomier and less constrained. You can wear them for a long time,” she adds.
These faux-leather pants — which have gone viral on TikTok — were one of Strategist writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell’s election week impulse buys. She had been eyeing them after seeing how well they fit several curvy bloggers she follows. Unlike with leather leggings where you are guaranteed some stretch, pants — faux-leather or real — are likely more rigid, and Aritizia’s sizing isn’t always forgiving, she says. So she sized up, and to her surprise, they fit perfectly. Even better, the vegan leather feels like butter and they’re extremely warm.
Sturino calls these “the nicest” faux-leather pants she’s ever tried. “They absolutely look like real leather and are so chic,” she says. And while they are quite pricey, after the year you’ve had, you probably deserve to treat yourself to something nice.
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