How to Care for Your Leather Pants

One of the best ways to stay toasty in the middle of winter is by slipping into the season's sexiest item: leather pants. I purchased my first pair in late November, and I’ve worn them every single weekend since I took them out of the bag. They are buttery soft, fit like a glove and look amazing with distressed tees and ankle boots. They also keep my spirits high when thermometer readings dip low.

With leather, however, comes responsibility—you have to put some real effort into caring for it. I recently spoke on the phone with Sarah Barish, the owner of Ernest Winzer Cleaners, who offered a few simple but effective guidelines for maximizing the appearance and life span of leather pants. Here are her tips:

1. Have them professionally cleaned. A good pair of leather pants is a true investment piece, so take the pants somewhere reputable, where the staff is well-versed in the cleaning and care of specialty fabrics. (And now for a well-earned plug: Ernest Winzer Cleaners is a third-generation outfit that works with leather and suede and has cared for many Broadway show wardrobes since it first opened in 1908. I trust them!)

2. Don’t dry clean them too much. Leather contracts whenever it's treated. The material will expand a bit afterwards to fit your body, but overzealous dry cleaning could result in permanent shrinkage over time.

3. Hang them up the right way. Don’t shove them in a drawer—leather can form wrinkles, impressions and dents. Instead, hang them up on a clip-top hanger, with a piece of fabric between the pants and the clips.

4. Be gentle with stains. During all that sexy-pants merry-making, you might accidentally spill some wine, water or seven-layer cake on the pants in question. Should this happen, the worst thing you could possibly do is to rub at the substance aggressively, grinding it into the leather. When faced with a stain, according to Winzer, you should gently apply a cloth or paper towel to the spilled liquid to carefully absorb it. If it’s a non-liquid stain, brush or dab at the spot with just enough pressure to remove it from the leather. If you’re too rough, you’ll just increase the surface area of the mess!


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