Transitional Leather

If you've popped by a store in the past month or seen images from just about any of the fall runways, no doubt you know that the look du jour is all about leather-indisputably! While the little leather jacket has been a wardrobe staple for countless seasons, lately designers are turning their attention away from this ubiquitous piece and exploring other silhouettes and styles. Now that the material (and many great faux alternatives) is no longer relegated to simply outerwear and accessories, we're spotting leather-focused looks on all kinds of ladies, ranging from society mavens to stylish models. And if today's fashion plates aren't reason enough to try the trend, consider the fact that this trend is definitely going to loiter for at least another season or two. Trust us: we logged no less than fifty leather looks on New York's S/S 10 runways!

But before we get into next season's trends, let's examine the way trendsetters are wearing these pieces now. Obviously the most intense looks involve head-to-toe leather, like the Proenza Schouler jumpsuit Chloe Sevigny wore to a magazine launch party a few months ago. The directional suit is from the line's S/S 09 collection and definitely offers the edgiest version of the trend. Of course, you can get a semblance of Sevigny's panache without fully committing to a black leather onesie; simply look for trousers instead. Not to discount one of our favorite fall essentials, but we think Geren Ford's Pleated Leather Pants ($595) and Jenni Kayne's Leather Trousers ($895) are wonderfully wearable options. Additionally, you could pick up a pair of menswear-inspired shorts, like Charlotte Ronson's Leather Shorts with High Waist ($193), which will still be on-trend come spring.

If you're not sure Sevigny's statement style is for you, but you're still feeling bold, take some outfit-inspiration from model Chanel Iman. Spotted at a Julianne Moore-hosted dinner in honor of Bottega Veneta's Tomas Maier, Iman impressed us with her draped leather dress. The Nero Washed Lambskin Dress ($3900, 877.362.1715) is a stunner thanks to its soft lines and feminine shape, which are both gorgeous and unexpected; the design offers the perfect contrast to the material's inherent toughness. While similar styles are definitely going to require some financial investment, we did sleuth out an incredible and affordable iteration: Eksempel's Sleeveless Leather Look Dress ($192).

Of course, if you'd prefer to mix a smaller leather element into your outfit, you've got loads of wardrobe role models to emulate as well. We always like the look of a black leather skirt, whether it's a pencil style à la Agyness Deyn or something sexier, like the banded mini Lily Donaldson wore to the Richard Hambleton exhibition during New York Fashion Week. The marvelous Ms. Donaldson looked every inch the major model in her snug skirt and seriously waist-cinching belt (the former is an insider find from Golde while the latter is the La Haute Belt ($395) by Kiki de Montparnasse). Just keep her styling choices in mind and mix the industrial leather with something lighter, like a super soft t-shirt or tank. While we're wild about Vince's Bondage Leather Mini Skirt ($695), if you're not ready to splurge, be sure to check out Silence & Noise's Tiered Faux Leather Skirt ($78) or the Warehouse's Buckle Leather Mini Skirt ($128), which comes with its own belt-like details.

Our final favorite way to work leather into our autumnal wardrobe is best illustrated by Byrdie Bell, who gave us a fashion crush when she threw on a cool moto vest over a long girly gown for the same Richard Hambleton party (what a fete!). Though her Yigal Azrouel dress is unquestionably gorgeous, it could feel a bit precious for anything less than a black-tie event. But when worn with G-Star's Correct Gilet ($480), the combination suddenly seems completely cool and relevant for less-dressy occasions. The leather vest is also a great piece to wear with more casual fare as well. In fact, it can be used to add interest to a simple outfit, much like the way one accessorizes with an oversized patterned scarf. We adore Topshop's Sleeveless Leather Biker Gilet ($170), but in addition to these boxy moto styles, there are also a number of more-fitted pieces on the market. Try bebe's Leather Knit Back Vest ($149) for a slim, slightly Edwardian look or Erin Wasson x RVCA's Hard Loser Leather Vest ($209) if your taste tends to run on the rock'n'roll side of things. Whatever your style is, you're sure to find at least one way to incorporate transitional leather into your current look!