Here’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: I bought these Haider Ackermann leather* trousers because I wanted to look cool. I know: cool is no longer cool – we’re in some post-cool place, where individuality and a celebration of geekdom triumphs in all things – especially fashion. The only thing is, I’m not of that era. Embedded deeply in my brain is my first impression of the intrinsic hipness of leather: John Travolta as Danny Zuko, leather T-Birds jacket on, collar turned up, smoking a cigarette, talking to a girl before turning with a sparkling grin towards his cohorts.
From that moment on, the relationship between leather and cool was only reinforced in my young mind, most notably when I saw Elvis in THAT comeback special. Elvis wanted to make a statement that he was still the man who was so sexually potent that he had to be cut off at the waist on TV, so he did it wearing leather head-to-toe (by 1968, TV bigwigs thought maybe the world could handle his gyrating leather-clad pelvis). And that’s the thing about leather – it’s sexy – but it’s sexy under wraps. It’s practical sexy. Laid back sexy. It’s sexy but nowhere near as obviously so as bare skin. It’s James Dean, the rebel without a cause but with a bloody brilliant wardrobe. It’s Michael Jackson on the cover of Bad, buckles glittering in among black leather details. It’s vial-of-blood-filled-necklace-wearing, brother kissing, wild Angelina Jolie, c. 2000.
I found them in Liberty London. They were hanging on the sale rail, and I couldn’t believe the price reduction, so I bought them without really allowing myself to wonder how useful they’d really be. And then I discovered that the reality of owning leather trousers is rather more complex than the custodianship of any other trouser material. I should’ve maybe foreseen this: my dad wears lederhosen to work and has often mentioned that one’s movement is slightly altered when in a trouser of such robustness.
So here it is: sitting down in leather trousers is hard. Not impossible, but hard. There is a moment where I have to just trust whatever I’m going to release my bottom onto and fall the last few inches, as they don’t allow for the smooth and slow lowering to which I’m accustomed. There’s also a bit of an issue with getting leather trousers on. No, I haven’t needed to resort to a paste pants situation (if you’re nonplussed by that reference, click here), but I have really found that there has to be a shimmy and slide accompanied by many grunts before I can secure my body into them. And secure may be a good word, for there is a prison element to wearing them.
There’s also the constant sense when in them that maybe I’ve got everything wrong. Maybe nobody thinks I am achingly cool – maybe they think I’m just some tragically trussed up human, and a mildly uncomfortably one at that.
Three things have kept me in them. First, they’re warm and don’t allow cold to penetrate, so they’ve been invaluable over this awfully long winter. Second, even with the discount, they weren’t cheap, and I hate waste. Third, and perhaps most importantly, I believe they are cool in a way that cannot be dislodged from my mind. In them, I feel rebellious, free, slightly wild, even if, in actuality, they make my movements seem a little laboured as I go about my rather non-rock ‘n’ roll life, doing stuff like squeezing avocados in the supermarket to see if they’re ripe and taking Monty for strolls in the park.
* I am vegetarian but wear leather.