Patent Leather: It's Not Just For Shoes!

Once mostly relegated to footwear departments and S&M dungeons, patent leather scored a serious fashion upgrade this season courtesy of labels like Versace, Altuzarra, and Salvatore Ferragamo. And with style-setters like Rihanna and Miroslava Duma also taking a shine to the trend, we think this is one look worth trying this fall.  

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  • Check out how the pros are working patent into their wardrobes and shop key pieces of your own.

  • Rihanna
    Photo credit: Pete Goddard / Splash News


    Nothing says style chutzpah like a fire engine red patent leather pencil skirt. For dinner at exclusive London eatery, San Carlo, Rihanna wore this Mui Miu version with a full-length denim coat (also by Miu Miu), a gray tee, and black suede Christian Louboutin pumps. The mix of materials at play here is genius while the pop star’s matching crimson lip helps the look come off as cohesive.

  • Frida Gustavsson
    Photo credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

    Frida Gustavsson

    Not ready to dive head first into this slick-thinking trend? Test the waters with black patent loafers (i.e. the shoe equivalent of the classic LBD.) We like the pair that model Frida Gustavsson, wore to the Rodebjer S/S 14 presentation last month, which added pizzazz to her otherwise subdued ensemble of dark denim and a Rodebjer Volans Silver Rain blazer ($510).

  • Leigh Lezark
    Photo credit: Leigh Lezark

    Leigh Lezark

    At the Versace S/S 14 show in Milan last month, the Misshapes DJ proved tight black patent leather and Catwoman comparisons needn’t be mutually exclusive. The key to her chic yet curve-hugging look is simplicity. The dress has plenty to say so she wisely kept the accessories (also by Versace) low-key. Also, a modest hemline is must with this sort of outfit lest you want to look like a naughty cop on Halloween.

  • Tavi Gevinson
    Photo credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

    Tavi Gevinson

    Take a page from Gevinson’s style playbook and spike a monochrome ensemble with the high gloss sheen of a patent leather piece.  At the Guess Portrait Studio during the Toronto Film Festival last month, the Rookie Editor-in-Chief and budding starlet shone in a flouncy skirt by Stolen Girlfriends Club and Alpha 60 Austine Cropped Shirt ($103) which she paired with a Mandy Coon Pontus Bunny Bag ($1794) and Slow and Steady Wins the Race shoes.

  • Miley Cyrus
    Photo credit: Peter West/

    Miley Cyrus

    We strongly prescribe tempering this trend with more understated pieces, but those who want to go all out in the drama department should take note of Miley Cyrus’s  ensemble at the Myspace launch event at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. What would usually be the statement element (a patent KTZ bomber) is in danger of being upstaged by Cyrus’s equally attention-grabbing T by Alexander Wang bralette, Ashish trousers, and punk-y coif. Note: This look is not for the faint of fashion sense. 

  • Miroslava Duma
    Photo credit: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for Salvatore Ferragamo

    Miroslava Duma

    Last but certainly not least, we come to outwear. You can’t really go wrong with a patent black trench like the Salvatore Ferragamo version that street style darling Miroslava Duma wore to the Italian design house’s S/S 14 show in Milan. The coat gets bonus points in our book for doubling as a rain jacket.

  • Topshop Unique
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Topshop Unique

    Topshop Unique

    For F/W 13, the fast fashion giant riffed on the trend with charcoal overcoats embellished with patent patches.

  • Salvatore Ferragamo
    Photo credit: Imax Tree

    Salvatore Ferragamo

    Color us excited for a patent leather bag that isn’t black. This cutie from the Italian label’s F/W 13 line had us at ciao.

  • Versace
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Versace


    Given its sleek sex appeal, we can’t say we’re surprised Donatella Versace jumped on the patent craze. We’re especially loving these F/W 13 skinny trousers paired up with fall’s other big trend: plaid.


  • Altuzarra
    Photo credit: Imax Tree


    Joseph Altuzarra dipped a toe in the trend with mod white ankle booties that bear a whiff of Carnaby Street, circa 1966.

  • Richard Nicoll
    Photo credit: Catwalking/Getty Images

    Richard Nicoll

    The London-based designer unpacked patent’s more seedy associations with this prim and proper F/W 13 look that feels light years away from the bondage shop.

  • American Apparel

    High Heel Bobby Patent Lace Up Shoe ($95) in Rey

  • Coach

    Landrie Heel ($225) in Black

  • H&M

    Leather Bag ($99) in Black

  • Courreges

    Vinyl Mini Skirt ($713) in Red

  • Gucci

    Patent Leather Gloves ($595) in Black

  • J.Crew

    Slim Patent Belt ($40) in Saltwater Grey

  • Saint Laurent

    Patent Leather Pumps ($685) in Black

  • Jonathan Saunders

    Agua Vinyl Straight Elina Skirt ($400) in Black

  • Nasty Gal

    Liquid Color Satchel ($125) in Violet

  • Richard Nicoll

    Patent Leather and Jersey Skirt ($1200) in Grey

  • Topshop

    Palma Patent Dress ($166) in Black


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