The Ultimate Guide to Styling Leather Jackets for Real Sized Women
According to the market research group Plunkett, more than two thirds of American women wear a size 14 or higher. In fact, the average American woman is 5 foot 3 and wears a size sixteen or eighteen. That's right, so called 'plus' sizes now comprise the majority of the women's clothing market, and retailers are finally starting to realize that women of all sizes want to invest in beautiful, high quality pieces for their wardrobe.
European and American fashion houses are scrambling to keep up with the demand for quality clothes in inclusive sizes, which means real-sized women have more opportunity now than ever before to acquire well-made wardrobe staples like the little black dress or the ubiquitous sleek leather jacket.
Yet having access to quality pieces is only half the battle of putting your best face forward, especially when it comes to plus sized leather jackets. You have to be able to tell which picks are worth their price tag, what cuts you should avoid, and of course, what you should wear along with it. If the idea of doing all of this research before going shopping makes you want to hide under the covers, you're in luck. We've already put considerable time into making sure this guide has everything you need to know before investing in a plus sized leather jacket.
What Not To Wear: Dressing for Your Body Type
The most important thing for real sized women to bear in mind when shopping is your body type. Are you an apple? A pear? Pleasantly bootylicious, but light up top? No matter what's trending, you will always look your best if you dress for your body type. The trouble is, most plus sized women don't even know their body shape because of the host of misinformation around what makes up a plus sized figure. Here are a few of the most common plus sized body types and what each body type should look for when choosing a plus sized leather jacket.
You're an apple if you have a full bust and round midsection, or you could have a full bust, a relatively flat tummy but not much of a clearly defined waistline. You could also have a smaller bust area with a rounded tummy and a high waistline.
Apples should focus on clothing that highlights their busts and possibly legs but is looser and/or concealing in the midsection. When it comes to picking a leather jacket, look for details like a peplum cut, bust darts, classic hardware or exposed seams that make the most of your cleavage.
You're pear shaped if your hips don't lie. Basically, if your shoulders and chest almost look like they belong to a different person than your hips, butt and thighs, you should consider yourself a pear. Also if you have a small waist and bust along with wide hips and a less rounded bottom, you're a pear.
Women with pear shapes should definitely invest in tailoring on single size items like dresses and one piece swimsuits. It's amazing how clueless some designers are when it comes to plus sized clothes, and many will assume that big hips = big breasts, when that is simply not the case. When selecting a leather jacket, look for something that is form fitting up to and stops at your true waist. Details like gathered sleeves and higher cut waistline in the back make for a figure flattering silhouette.
If you are looking to cover your hip and thigh area instead of flaunting it, long leather dusters with side splits are also a great option. Just be sure the jacket is fitted up top, so you don't look like you stole your boyfriend's coat.
This shape is pretty self explanatory but for some reason, many plus sized hourglasses fail to correctly identify their shape. If your waist is significantly smaller than your hips and bust, and your hips and bust are close to the same size, you're an hourglass, whether you are a size eight or a size twenty eight. You don't have to have a flat stomach to have and hourglass shape.
Women with hourglass shapes tend to look bigger than they actually are unless they stick to cinched waistlines. Look for a fitted, moto style leather jacket with adjustable snap tabs to show off your shape.
Inverted pyramids have broad shoulders and more narrow waists and hips. Inverted pyramids have a similar issue to pears in that many designers assume broad shoulders= broad hips.
Make the most of your shape with shorter jackets that show off your hips and legs. Feminine detailing like ruffles, peplum cuts and belted waists will also create the illusion of a curvier figure.
Diamonds are similar to apples with a few key differences. While you may have a rounded midsection (or just not discernible waistline), unlike apples, your shoulders and calves are slender while your bust, stomach and hips are broad.
Style experts suggest avoiding leather jackets with too much detailing, which can make your midsection look bigger. A classic swing coat or blazer style leather jacket is timeless and figure flattering.
Now that you know how to pick the best jacket for your body type, let's take a look at how to select quality leather pieces that will stand the test of time.
Invest In Quality
When All67 designer Jeff Cafone started making leather jackets for plus sized women, he was appalled by the low quality material many designers used. His main concerns were the overuse of pleather “as if bigger women don’t deserve the same materials as straight sizes”, designs with little or no structure, and low quality hardware and lining material.
Jeff hit the nail on the head when it comes to quality indicators. Sadly, many of these leather jacket impersonators can be just as expensive as the real thing. make sure you have leather, not pleather by placing a drop of water on the jacket. If the water beads up, it's fake. If it absorbs quickly, it's real.
Cheap liners are also a no-no. Even if the jacket is good quality leather, a cheap lining can negatively impact fit, not to mention make you hot and sweaty instead of stylish and sleek. Look for fabrics like taffeta (helps jackets hold their shape), 100% cotton (breathable and comfortable) or faux fur (dense, warm and moth resistant).
Now that you know how to pick a high quality plus sized leather jacket that works for your body type, you're ready to start deciding what to wear it with.
Making a Style Statement
Leather jackets, like little black dresses, are fashion staples because they can be worn in a variety of ways ranging from business to causal and everything in between. Read on to find out what to pair with your jacket when you're at work, on date night, or even for a casual weekend brunch.
At the Office
Winter is here, and leather jackets make great alternatives to blazers when temperatures start to drop. Pair a structured motorcycle jacket with an embellished peplum top, a solid color pencil skirt, and matching flat boots for a stylish, sophisticated look that can easily go from day to night.
Out on the Town
Don't be afraid to rock your leather jacket on date night-- it's easy to dress leather up or down. Go all out and pair an embellished leather jacket with a tulip waist leather, silk or satin pencil skirt, or keep it casually sexy by pairing with a lace blouse, heels and skinny jeans. Don't forget to complete your look with a coordinating clutch bag!
On the Weekend
Wow your girls at Sunday brunch by pairing your new jacket with printed leggings, a peasant blouse, a statement necklace and ankle boots. this casually confident look will surely turn heads and have your friends asking, where did you get that?
These suggestions are really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to styling your jacket, because leather goes with everything. Add an edge to a sweet sundress, show up and show out in a leather jacket and a sexy catsuit or romper, or frump-proof your winter with a heavy duty, faux fur lined leather coat that looks effortlessly chic.
No matter how you decide to style it, if you stick with high quality materials, add-ons and embellishments and dress for your body, not for the trend you are sure to end up with a stylish, sophisticated piece that you'll get tons of mileage out of for years to come. Don't ever settle for less than you deserve because you weigh more than a supermodel. Remember, two thirds of American women are real sized, so you're in excellent company. At the end of the day, when it comes to choosing the best plus sized leather jackets, the key ingredient is confidence.