Since my collection of various leather jeans and pants are shown on my website, and I have blogged frequently about wearing leather, sometimes I get questions from curious men about wearing leather, and how to fit leather jeans.
Context: I am an average middle-aged married man who works in a professional office in a major city (suburbs, actually) on the East Coast of the United States. I’m no young rock star or California hipster. Why leather and why me?
I admit, I am not the typical guy that one would think who would wear leather pants. I have some interests — like riding a motorcycle or (past life) attending gay leather-oriented events — where wearing leather jeans is considered acceptable and/or the dress code. (I do have to point out, though, that I am the only rider in my multi-hundred member motorcycle club who wears leather jeans. All other men and women wear chaps, if they wear leather at all below the waist.)
Once again, why leather and why me?
Leather is durable. It lasts and lasts and can take (mild) abuse. A little rain? No problem. When kept treated, leather lasts much longer than the waist size at age 30 lasts (let me assure you of that truth!)
Leather is warm. Much better than denim. But good quality leather also breathes, so it does not feel as if you are wearing plastic wrap. The only time that I am uncomfortable wearing leather is when the temperature is warmer than about 80F (27C). But in those temperatures, lightweight fabrics are a better choice anyway.
Leather is protective. Leather jeans are far more protective to legs if the unthinkable motorcycle crash happens — and far more protective that just chaps that leave your butt and crotch unprotected.
Leather, when fitted well, looks good. Most men look really good in well-fitted leather pants or jeans. Black leather looks best as it is more slimming. Leather jeans or pants are also quite stylish. While I am no male model, I frequently get admiring looks from women, and also the same looks from men. Women’s admiration is for the garment and how I look in it; men’s looks are more envious — and I’ve heard this — “that guy actually looks great in those leather jeans. I wish I had a pair.”
Leather is forgiving. So you may be a bit short, or have a tummy? Leather is incredibly forgiving and conforms to differences in physical size. It is easy to hem to the correct length, and stretches with wear over time to accommodate, well, you know. It really works well for us average, non-model, guys whose physical condition may not be quite so athletic.
Easy to maintain
Well-made leather garments are easy to maintain. A simple wipe-down with a damp cloth if exposed to harsh weather or dirty/dusty environments usually is sufficient. About once or twice each year, I spend about 10 minutes using leather conditioner on my leather jeans, lightly applying it in a circular motion, and wiping the excess off. This simple treatment is all that my leathers have needed — and some of my best and favorite leather garments are more than 30 years old.
If leather jeans get wet, such as from getting caught in a sudden rain storm, hanging the jeans in an open area with good circulation but out of direct sunlight works great. The leather will dry naturally and will not grow mold.
As I said, I am no rock star or male model. I am not an entrant at the latest leather fashion show or gay “Mr. Leather-Somewhere” contest. I’m kinda short when compared with other men, and I have an issue with weight in the middle. So why do I wear leather jeans or pants? And sometimes a total leather outfit, including a leather shirt, jacket, and boots? (Well, always boots, or my name isn’t Booted Harleydude!)
It’s a personal thing. I like how leather feels and looks. I like how it functions from durable motorcycle wear to fashion wear for a night on the town — in the exact same garments on the same day!
Also, I have enough self-confidence (some may call it “chutzpah”) to pull on a pair of leather jeans and go out in public, even when I am not riding a motorcycle. I have long gotten over any fearful feelings or concerns about what other people may think or say. That’s their problem, if any, not mine. Honestly, very very few people say anything about wearing leather jeans or boots, or if they say something, it’s usually complimentary.
Well-fitted Leather Pants/Jeans
I have said several times on this blog that “well-fitted leather jeans/pants” look good. So what is “well-fitted?”
First thing to know is that leather jeans may not necessarily have the same waist size as your favorite pair of Wranglers or Levis. Cloth garments tend to be more forgiving in the waist and stretch even with the first washing.
Also, one of the differences between fitting for good-quality leather jeans and denim jeans is that denim jeans only have two measurements — waist and length — while custom-made good quality leather jeans may be fitted to accommodate the waist, hips, rise (crotch), upper legs, hip-to-knee length, knee-to-ankle length, calf circumference, and length with your footwear (boots should be worn with leather jeans, and boots usually have a higher heel than sneakers worn with denim jeans.)
I can hear you now — “I am not a biker or a gay leatherman. I may wear leather jeans once in a blue moon. Why can’t I get a pair of leather jeans from a vendor that I see on the internet who offers great prices?”
Well, you can — but you will get what you pay for. Usually “great prices” on leather jeans translate to garments made in Pakistan which is notorious for mass production of low-grade, poor quality, ill-fitting junk. You may get a cheap pair of leather jeans from such a vendor, wear them once, and choose not to wear them again. They hang funny. They creak and squeak loudly. They look like a sack of potatoes is in your crotch, and it ain’t your “package.” Also, cheap leather jeans are usually made from poorly-tanned thick cowhide — and look like — poorly-tanned thick cowhide. You can do better!
So have yourself measured with a tape for the measurements shown on my handy-dandy measurement form, here. Note: do not attempt to measure yourself. Have someone else do it. It is not possible to get accurate measurements when attempting to measure yourself because you have to twist and bend to obtain measurements, and that twisting throws the measurements off.
Then go to or find a retailer who specializes in making leather garments. Over the years, I have settled on four such vendors, each of whom have made great leather jeans, pants, or breeches for me: Northbound, Toronto, Canada; Mr. S, San Francisco, CA; Johnson’s Leather, San Francisco, CA; and 665 Leather, West Hollywood (Los Angeles), CA. More information about them is on the links page on my website, here.
Yes, these vendors cater to the gay leather market. But their objective is to make leather gear of good quality and to make customers happy. They deal with straight clients a lot. They are not out to “convert” straight guys into the “gay lifestyle.” This is about the most frequent concern I hear from straight men who want good quality leather gear, but don’t want to go to “a gay store.” If you can look the other way at obvious homoerotic imagery (Mr. S is quite known for that), you will find these vendors to be top-notch in providing great customer service and attention to your needs, as well as budget.
The best way to obtain good-quality, well-fitted leather jeans or pants is to visit one of these vendors in person and have one of their staff or tailors measure you. But if you can’t do that, let me assure you that it is quite possible to order custom leather garments by email and telephone. Have your measurements taken, then I recommend that you contact the vendor of choice by phone and discuss your interests — as well as your limits or concerns.
For example, it is typical of gay leather retailers to offer button-fly leather jeans. There’s something about a button fly and gaydom that I have not quite understood (even as a gay man.) It is possible to request a zip-fly instead. For me as a biker, I prefer that. Button holes tend to stretch, and as I swing my leg over the saddle of my Harley, I have had button holes open — and then you have that situation of having to close your fly again, which can be embarrassing when riding with a mixed group of bikers. Zip flies stay shut — and stretch with leg motions.
You can also specify leg opening circumference. Want legs to taper and zip down, like breeches? Sure thing… just ask. Want leg openings wide enough to go over your widest-circumference boots? Sure thing again… just ask. Or, the best of both worlds — zip open for wide, over-boot opening, and zip closed for narrow, inside-boot tapering. It’s all quite possible, and I have all three types of leg openings on my various leather jeans or pants.
I can prattle on forever on this topic. Suffice it to say that:
* Wearing leather jeans or pants is easy for a secure man to do. It has nothing to do with his sexual orientation as it has to do with his self-confidence.
* You do not have to be affiliated with a certain culture to wear leather jeans. Rock stars, bikers, gay leathermen — as well as average suburban married men can wear ’em, too.
* You get what you pay for. Good quality, well-fitted leather garments made in a custom shop cost more than off-the-rack made-in-Pakistan junk. But I assure you, the good stuff looks 1000% better and you will want to wear it more often than the occasional blue moon.
* Women and men both admire how good leather jeans look on guys. Men will not admit it, and women will pay compliments.
Buck up your courage, get yourself measured, and start rockin’ those leather jeans. You will be happy that you did. You can thank me later. 🙂
For more information on buying leather gear, consult my Guide to Motorcycle Leather Gear, here.
Life is short: wear leather jeans or pants! (Daily!)