Leather always makes a statement. As a lifelong fashion lover, I’ve often dreamed about finding the perfect leather garment that checks every sartorial box. In my opinion, the perfect leather garment is the leather dress!
Leather dresses are the embodiment of luxury and high fashion. They are an extremely niche type of garment, reserved exclusively for those who want to make a big sartorial statement. Depending on material and availability, leather dresses can cost anywhere from $30 to over $1,000.
Here’s a look at the different styles and types of leather dresses available today.
What is a Leather Dress?
A leather dress is exactly what it sounds like: a dress made from leather, either faux or genuine. As is the case with most leather garments, leather dresses are typically at least partially fitted to the body. A leather dress can be purchased from countless retailers, from fast fashion to couture designers. DIY is an option, though genuine leather is a difficult material to work with.
Types of Leather Dresses
There are truly countless types of leather dresses. No matter who you are or what your style, there’s a leather dress for you!
Faux Leather Dresses
Faux leather dresses are any style of dress made from faux leather rather than genuine leather. Faux leather is a plastic product and can be purchased in varying quality from almost indistinguishable from real leather to extremely plasticky. Faux leather can also be found in varying finishes, like matte or patent. These materials can even mimic other animal leathers, like alligator or snakeskin! Faux leather dresses are a great option for those who want to try out a leather dress, or who just don’t want to drop a big chunk of change for a genuine leather dress. Faux leather is durable and can be an extremely close dupe for genuine leather, so the possibilities are endless for faux leather dresses.
Leather Shirt Dress
Shirt dresses are dresses in a style that mimics – you guessed it – a shirt, most often a button-down shirt. They are often partially tailored but generally relaxed-fitting, making them an excellent middle ground between casual and classy. Shirt dresses come in a variety of different sub-styles which give them different impressions.
For instance, a shirt dress with puff sleeves and a waist belt feels feminine and light, while a traditional-cut flannel shirt dress gives a more masculine, solid vibe. Shirt dresses are typically made from softer materials, but leather shirt dresses are becoming quite popular. An interesting mix of soft style and edgy material, leather shirt dresses are mostly available for higher-end retailers and are an excellent option for professional settings.
Leather dresses are the embodiment of luxury and high fashion.
Leather Dress Plus Size (& black leather dress plus size)
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In the fashion world, plus sizes are usually considered any size over a 10/12. This is an extremely large range of sizes, and more retailers than ever are catering to the plus-size community! Leather is extremely flattering and, over time, will stretch and form itself to the wearer’s shape. Because of this, genuine leather is an excellent choice for plus sizes.
While most plus size garments can be constructed in the same way as straight-sized garments, comfort is still important. Many designers and retailers will include a stretch panel to plus size leather garments for optimal comfort and fit. A plus size leather dress will be a versatile piece for a confident fashionista.
Faux Leather Bodycon Dress
Bodycon dresses are a completely form-fitting style of dress, named for their “body-conscious” fit. Bodycon dresses are also typically made from heavier materials to maintain shape and flatter the wearer’s body.
Perhaps one of the most popular options on this list, faux leather bodycon dresses are a go-to for those who want to look sexy and edgy. Faux leather bodycon dresses are extremely versatile, available in a multitude of colors and finishes. Thanks to their use of faux leather, they’re almost always an affordable alternative to genuine leather. Because the style usually necessitates the use of a heavier material, faux leather bodycon dresses will often be made from a more natural-looking material. They may also include stretch panels or functional zippers for a more comfortable fit.
Brown Leather Dress
The natural color for genuine leather is a light tan tone called “russet”. A popular option for those who want a softer look, brown leather dresses may be dyed or natural, ranging from the natural russet color to a deep mahogany. These are less common in tighter glam styles and more common in softer styles, like shirt dresses.
Long Leather Dress
Long leather dresses are any style of leather dress whose skirt extends past mid-calf. Gone are the days when only goths could wear long leather dresses! Today, longer styles are hard to come by, but can make a major statement. Of course, with the extra material comes a heftier price tag, even with faux leather, so this option is certainly an investment.
Real Leather Dresses
These garments are made from real leather (genuine leather, genuine suede, full grain leather, or lambskin leather) instead of faux leather. Real leather dresses are more durable, heavier, and warmer than faux leather, but they are also far more expensive. Real leather dresses are an investment that will last decades.
Vegan Leather Dress
These garments are made from faux leather, which is made from plastics. Faux leather can be remarkably similar to genuine leather, but is typically far cheaper. This makes vegan leather dresses a great option not only for those who want to avoid using animal products, but for those who are looking for an inexpensive leather dress.
Blue Leather Dress
Leather dresses, both genuine and faux leather, come in a variety of colors and finishes. Blue leather dresses are made from material which has been dyed a shade of blue. Choosing a blue leather dress is a bold choice for a truly fashion-forward, confident trendsetter!
Full Length Leather Dress
Full-Length leather dresses are dresses made from leather whose skirt extends to at least the wearer’s ankle, covering the wearer’s entire leg. Full-length leather dresses appear to be most at home on the runway or the red carpet. Thanks to the larger amount of material used, full-length leather dresses are often prohibitively expensive and impractical to wear. However, for someone looking for a high-fashion look, a full-length leather dress might be the perfect choice.
Black Leather Dress
Long Sleeve Long sleeve dresses are any style of dress whose sleeves cover the wearer’s entire arm. Another edgy choice, a black leather long sleeve dress feels most at home on the runway. Long sleeves and leather make this a great choice for colder weather, but the extra fabric may be expensive.
Leather Sheath Dress
A sheath dress is a classic silhouette, fitted with subtle sewing techniques and typically knee-length or slightly longer. Sheath dresses are typically conservative and high-cut, but some lower-cut sheaths exist. A leather sheath dress makes a big statement. Sheath dresses are universally flattering and provide the perfect balance of form fitting and conservative. These garments would be perfect for professional settings or more formal parties.
Black Leather Dress Outfit
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Black leather dresses are an excellent backdrop for a stunning outfit. Black leather dress outfits can be simple and dressed-down with a denim jacket, or high-fashion and paired with diamonds and patent heels.
Designer Leather Dress
A Designer dress differs from a dress from a fast-fashion retailer thanks to the brand name attached. Designer dresses are created by professional fashion designers and often sold through higher-end retailers. Many of the most on-trend leather dresses are designer. The designer leather dress guarantees craftsmanship and luxe materials, but may be prohibitively expensive for some.
Here is a great video displaying many different types of Leather Dresses
Leather Formal Dress
Formal dresses are typically made from high-quality materials than an average dress and feature embellishments or special styles, and are reserved for formal events. Despite what some believe, leather can absolutely be worn to a formal affair. Knee-length or tea-length leather formal dresses balance the edginess of leather with softer, feminine silhouettes and cuts.
What to Look for in a Leather Dress
|What To Look For||Why It’s Important|
|Fit||Leather is a material which will naturally be form-fitting due to its rigidity. It’s important to know your size, or even your exact measurements, to ensure a perfect fit when looking for a leather dress. If you prefer your dresses a bit more forgiving, sizing up is essential. Finding one’s basic measurements is simple, and can be done with a measuring tape.|
|Style||The style of a garment refers to the general impression it gives. For instance, leather tends to give an impression of edginess, but there are dress styles that tone this down. A leather shirtdress or a classy fit-and-flare style will give off a polished vibe that’s more 5th Avenue than rock and roll. If edgy is your style of choice, a tight fit and some embellishments will make you look like a rock star.|
|Comfort||Generally, a tighter leather dress will be more uncomfortable. If comfort is your top priority, opt for a more relaxed style. Since genuine leather is a natural material, it will have more stretch and will be slightly more forgiving, especially when worn over time. Faux leather might be softer and more pliable, but will only stretch to a point.|
Where to Buy Leather Dresses
Amazon’s wide selection and greatly varying price points mean that the perfect leather dress for anyone can be found via their site.
Spanish retailer Zara offers an elevated fast fashion approach to popular styles, and leather dresses are no exception. Shoppers can find a great mix of natural leather, suede, and faux leather from this retailer.
Forever 21 is fast fashion royalty with a dress collection to match. You’d be hard pressed to find genuine leather dresses from this retailer, but their faux leather dresses are on-trend.
This retailer rules internet-based fast fashion, offering super sexy, trendy styles for all sizes. Like other fast fashion retailers, their selection is lacking in genuine leather, but their faux leather quality is top-notch.
Below is a very informative Fashion Nova Faux Leather Skirt DIY
H&M is in a league of its own, often offering high-fashion collaborations with designers. Their selection of leather dresses reflects this, with tons of faux leather dress options along with a few genuine leather dresses (or genuine leather accented dresses) as well.
Some other excellent resources for purchasing leather dresses include department stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, and Neiman Marcus; “high fashion” fast fashion retailers like Topshop and ASOS; designers or third-party designer retailers like Net-A-Porter; or specialty leather goods retailers or craftsmen.
Another option, for those who are experienced in sewing their own clothing, is to create your own leather dress! This option ensures that you have a unique, personal garment tailored to your particular taste.
Leather dresses are a fashion lover’s dream. The perfect blend of practical and “extra”, edgy and classy, leather dresses are surprisingly wearable, flattering garments.
Although many are intimidated by their price point or lost about how to style them, the availability of leather dresses in different styles and materials means there’s truly an option for everyone. If you’re interested in similar fashions, click here for my guide on leather jeans, or here for my article on leather pants.
Do Natural Leather Dresses Stretch?
Because it is a natural material, genuine leather will stretch, but only over time. One of the biggest benefits of splurging on genuine leather is that the material will mold to the wearer’s body with regular use.
Do Faux Leather Dresses Stretch?
While some faux leather may initially seem stretchier than genuine leather, it does not stretch as reliably as natural leathers. Faux leather is made from plastics, and if stretched too aggressively or too far, will crack or tear.
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