Sometimes I forget that I live my whole life in a perfect little weather bubble. There are no seasons to speak of here in Southern California -- it’s 364 days of sunshine and one day of rain per year. I don’t personally own any winter clothes
-- just a bunch of tights
. So when a reader from the Southern Hemisphere wrote me yesterday about what to wear this winter, I had to stop, scratch my head, and recall the geography lessons of my childhood -- OH, YEAH, it’s about to be winter on the other side of the world.
I live in the Southern Hemisphere and it will be getting chilly pretty soon. I've wanted black leather pants since I was twelve, but never dared to wear them for fear of looking like a Joan Jett wannabe. Now that I'm almost 40 and beginning not to give a damn about what others think of my style choices, I'm determined to wear them this winter. I still wouldn't want to look like Joan Jett, though (I do love Joan, but rockstar chic is really not my thing, even if I like leather pants).
I found the perfect pair and I think I have the top more or less figured out (I'm thinking chunky knits or maybe a silk shirt), but it's the shoes I'm at a loss for. It seems my beloved motorcycle boots would be too much. So...help, please! I really trust your judgment.
Black leather pants by Levi's.
Gio lives in South America, but our Australian/New Zealander-ish xoJane peeps are currently prepping their winter wardrobes, too -- so I figured it was the perfect time to answer her question, even though we in the states are currently breaking out our swimsuits.
In a follow-up email, Gio stated that she didn’t really love the zippers at the ankles and hips of the pants she had purchased -- but I actually think she's dead wrong! Ironically, the zippers are the very thing that keeps these pants from looking too rocker-y or dated. Their placement is very au courant
. I told her that if she really hated the zippers, to have at ‘em with some black nail polish to at least knock the shine down a bit.
Shoes are a detail that can make or break a pair of leather pants. The obvious, warmest answer is to pair the chunky knit sweater Gio referred to in her email with some sleek ankle booties -- either in black to match the pants and create a longer leg line, or in a rich color to break up all the darkness.
Top row, L-R: Blk pointy toe, $80. Speckled print, $166. Red tassell, $259. Tan suede, $198. Middle row, L-R: Lizard laceups, $115. Blk wedge, $109. Yellow tassell, $197. Leopard print, $239. Bottom row, L-R: Blue/wood heel, $182. Metallic print, $235. Burgandy cowboy, $120.
Some people are concerned that a heeled shoe comes off as tacky with something as inherently tough as a pair of leather pants, but I think they lend the perfect balance to what could otherwise be too heavy of a look.
The great thing about those zippers Gio wasn't so sold on is that they will allow her to wear a pair of boots that are a little bulkier at the ankle with ease -- because she can just unzip and let them flare out a bit over the boots. Instant convertible pants! The detail on some on the boots above would only become obvious when you sat down and crossed your legs, which I adore. (The vey best fashion is only ever revealed to the world in tiny snippets, if you ask me.)
Another shoe look that could play nicely with Gio's pants are some snappy oxfords. I love the idea of infusing rocker-ish leather with a preppy spin. This could work especially well if she wears them with a prim & proper silk blouse as she suggested in her email, and accessorizes the whole thing with some ladylike gold or pearls.
The most classic shoe of all for finishing off a pair of leather pants while adding in some sex appeal is a pair of pumps. Not the boring office drone variety -- the F$*% ME variety! (And preferably in shocking shade or print.)
Top row, L-R: Mint, $225. Orange, $220. Blk/gold, $745. Middle row, L-R: Electric blue, $128. Lizard print, $231. B&W stripe, $130. Bottom row, L-R: Fuschia, $225. Multi-color print, $105. Brick red, $210.
Any of these would work beautifully with Gio's black leather pants. Just add a slinky lingerie-inspired camisole for some sex-bomb date night style. The trick to making pumps work in the winter is to be sure the shoe has some presence and doesn't come off as spindly and fragile. A pair of sky-high closed-toe shoes in a vixen-esque color or pattern is the perfect antidote to the "Joan Jett" vibe that Gio's leather pants could easily give off.
Those of you currently sweating to death here in the states, I hope you enjoyed reading about winter clothes in June. All you ladies below the equator, be sure to send me your swimsuit questions come Christmas time, ya hear? I live to serve.