Leather can be chic for mid-life royals

In a lather over leather? It can be impossibly chic, even for the mid-life doubters says ALICE HARE – as these leading royals make clear

  • The Duchess of Edinburgh stepped out in an all-black ensemble last week
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I have a pair of chocolate brown leather leggings that I love to wear in the winter with a huge sweater – long enough to cover my bottom and top of my thighs – and wellies. 

Yet every time I wear said leggings, my father is baffled.

My sisters unfailingly ask, ‘where’s the Harley Davidson?’, but my father’s confusion comes from an entrenched view among people of his age that they just can’t shift: leather = dominatrix.

But as I am trying to prove, and a bunch of senior royals, it would appear, leather can be chic – impossibly so. 

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, 58 in a black leather ensemble when she visited Brooklands Innovation Academy this week

Queen Letizia wears one of her many leather skirts in Madrid this year, She finds a balance between leather and fabric to perfect the look

Queen Maxima has colour blocked perfectly. Leather burgundy culottes are worn with a pussy bow blouse that immediately makes the outfit more feminine

Queen Letizia of Spain is a huge fan of leather midi skirts and culottes, and possibly the most elegant of royal leather wearers.

 Sophie proved that even us stuffy Brits can get on board by stepping out two days ago for a visit to the Brooklands Museum in Surrey in a leather midi skirt. 

And this is an ageless trend – leather, worn correctly, looks great on those in the 50-plus age bracket as much as it does on 20-somethings.

Sophie is 58, Letizia 51. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, 52, loves her burgundy leather culottes. Queen Rania of Jordan, 53, regularly wears a black skirt.

Modernists like to say that ‘fashion rules are dead’. Leather is undoubtedly the exception.

It is possible to make black leather skirts and trousers look good, but for the newcomer to leather, burgundy, forest green or chocolate brown are easier to style without venturing into Pretty Woman (pre-makeover) territory.

Queen Rania seems to take a leaf out Letizia’s fashion book on a 2019 visit to Madrid

Queen Mathilde in a burgundy leather skirt and matching silk blouse at a conference in Belgium in 2021

Princess Diana was ahead of her time in a leather pencil skirt at a Eurythmics Concert in 1986

If the leather skirt is pencil in shape or the trousers anything near to form-fitting, it is better to pair with a looser top (a silk pussybow shirt is always a safe bet, as the royals know) to balance out proportions. 

Culottes and A-line midi skirts are safer bets again for the new-to-leather than more tailored options. Tight leather, especially black, paired with a tight top half is never going to look elegant. Silk or cashmere drapes beautifully and provides a nice contrast of textures – head-to-toe leather is for motorcyclists only, please.

Princess Diana was naturally ahead of her time, wearing a leather pencil skirt to a Eurhythmics concert at Wembley Arena in 1986. And if she dared to wear leather in 1986, I’m determined my leather leggings can make themselves at home in 2023 – even on a farm in Norfolk.

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