Leather pants on men can be a controversial fashion choice. Those who hate them, hate them. Music writer Chuck Klosterman once opined that "wearing leather pants is indisputable proof that you have no friends," because if you did, they'd tell you that you look ridiculous. But those who love them, adore them. Think of leather pants as advanced fashion -- amateurs need not apply. You have to know what you're doing to pull them off. A few style tips, a little attention to detail and you'll be ready to rock those leather trousers.
Black is Best
Sure, you can find leather pants in colors other than basic black, but remember -- black is a neutral. That means it goes with practically anything. It's much more versatile than any other color you could opt for. So if you're going to own only one pair of leather pants, make it black.
Check the Fit
Baggy leather pants are the bane of stylishness. You want a pair that fits close to the skin. Choose a jeans cut for maximum versatility. Just make sure they're not too tight -- you should be able to bend over and sit down in comfort. The softer the leather, the better. Of course, you'll pay for that buttery leather quality, but it's worth it.
What -- and When -- Not To Wear
Leather pants are almost by definition casual attire. They're perfect for clubbing and for a hot date. You can't get away with them on the red carpet unless you're a celebrity, though, and you know better than to wear them to the office or to a wedding or other formal affair, right? As for styling, too much leather is overkill, so ditch the leather shirt, jacket and vest immediately. Ditto the cowboy boots -- don't mix idioms, please.
The Rocker Look
Pair leather pants with combat-style boots and a band T-shirt and you've got instant rock-star appeal, even if you don't know a single guitar chord. Feel free to add a pyramid-studded belt or wrist cuff to this ensemble, but don't go overboard. Stick to silver accessories; for some reason gold just looks tacky with leather.
A drapey shirt adds a note of subtle sophistication to your outfit when you pair it with some skin-tight leather pants. Make it any other color than black, though -- white is fine, so is a deep red or purple that works with your complexion; even blue, green and yellow can work here. Look for something in silk by preference, although a high-quality cotton or linen shirt is also acceptable. Wear velvet only if you're hopelessly Goth. In this case, a pair of men's dress shoes is the perfect footwear match, even though the outfit as a whole still falls on the casual side of the divide. You could get away with a pair of boots here, too, especially if they have a pirate sort of vibe.
You can also pair basic black leather pants with a V-neck pullover sweater. This look is probably too hot for a dance club, but for a more subdued affair it's surprisingly effective. The sweater denotes class while the leather pants hint at your wild side. In other words, you're a well-rounded gentleman who knows how to have fun. Again, opt for dress shoes here.
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, travel, and food and cooking. Her work has appeared in Curve Magazine, Girlfriends, Libido, The Children's Advocate, Decider.com, The SF Weekly, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.