published Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Leather stays low-key in the heat

  • photo
    Annie Hagaman combines leather and florals with a Louisa bow halter top by Milly, $250, and Elizabeth and James pants with leather panels below the knees, $395.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

Leather isn't just for motorcycles anymore.

This season, hot designers including Rachel Zoe, Vince, Donna Karan and Helmut Lang are featuring lots of leather in their spring-wear lines.

It is a trend that can be met with some hesitation below the Mason-Dixon Line, said Kent Magee, owner of Willa Collection on Manufacturers Road.

"Our Southern customers are pretty resistant to leather in spring and summer," she said, citing the intense heat and humidity. "People in the South only need so much leather in their wardrobe."

Therefore, when selecting leather pieces for the warmer months, store owners must apply a "less is more" theory, looking for lightweight pieces in paler colors, or applying the fabric in small doses, such as in shorts, or as accents on pants or dresses.

At Willa, one leather piece on the floor is a pair of Elizabeth and James black pants (from co-designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) with the lower portion of the legs in leather. Black, Magee said, is always classic.

Using leather in lighter colors or as an accent can create a more fresh, lively look for spring and summer.

Another way to create the look of leather for a lighter weight and heavier wallet is to select a coated denim, said Magee.

"Unless you pick [the garment] up and touch it, you'd swear it was leather," she said.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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