Over the past few blog posts, I’ve talked a lot about leather. I know some people love leather and some people hate it. I don’t always buy my accessories in leather – I’ve definitely been known to rock some pleather trend items from time to time. However, if I’m going to be spending money on something timeless that I want to last, I tend to drift towards buying leather.
When I first started shopping for pieces that would last a while, I was totally confused about the different types of leather available. Weren’t they all the same?! Turns out, no. Today I’m going to walk you through all the different types of leather available to figure out which type is best for you and your activities.
Patent Leather – Patent leather is leather that has been treated to have a special sheen on it. This is a great leather for someone just beginning to build their collection, or for any shoe or bag that will go through hell and back. Patent leather is very durable as it doesn’t scratch easily, and can be cleaned up nicely with a simple wet cloth. This makes it a great choice for something that will be used on a daily basis and/or might have the potential to get scratched or dirty easily. Patent doesn’t stretch a ton, so keep that in mind if you’re looking to buy patent shoes.
Smooth Leather – I talked about smooth leather (also known as Kid leather, or non-patent leather) a little bit in my post about purchasing my Jimmy Choos, but we’ll go into more depth here. I prefer smooth leather over patent as I like its matte appearance on accessories rather than the shiny appearance that comes from patent leather (generally speaking, although sometimes I break this rule!). Smooth leather is quite a bit more delicate than patent, and definitely requires more care. Smooth leather doesn’t have any protectant on it, so it is a lot easier to scratch and harder to keep clean. It needs to be sprayed with a leather protectant spray every season (twice a year) and also needs to be polished with a leather polisher a few times each year. Scratches and dirt marks are often very noticeable and may require a trip to the cobbler to fix. With that said, smooth leather often looks a bit nicer than patent. It’s easier to photograph since there isn’t much sheen (gotta think about those Instas) and might end up lasting longer if you’re careful with it, as some people are actually harder on their patent leather accessories since they view them as indestructible. Smooth leather shoes tend to have a good amount of give in the leather, so they’ll mould around your feet nicely, which is a definite plus.
Suede – Suede is the stuff of fall dreams. It covers the runways come September, year after year without fail. It’s very likely that your fall booties are suede, or a faux-suede. There are a lot of good faux-suede alternatives out there that look a lot like suede, so this is a good option if you’re looking to save money or prefer to have vegan accessories. Suede is a nice option since it already has texture in it, so a few nicks and scratches won’t be super noticeable. However, suede does not play nice with water and will often permanently stain your shoes, even more than it would with other types of leather. It’s also a very “fall fashion” item, so you probably get less use out of suede shoes in the off-season. They have a moderate amount of give in them, so they will stretch and mould to your feet a little bit.
Calfskin/Lambskin leather – This is smooth leather on steroids. It’s an absolute dream to touch as it feels like butter and is so incredibly soft. Calfskin is mostly seen in handbags, and most very expensive designers offer their bags in calfskin/lambskin leather (think Chanel), so it’s definitely a status thing. The downside to calfskin leather is that it is super duper easy to mark up and ruin. Like, if you casually rub up against someone while walking in the street, your bag will probably get scratched. It’s a luxury leather meant for luxury living (subways likely weren’t considered during the design process for these bags and shoes). They require a ton of care, so they aren’t great if you walk in public daily or put your accessories through a lot. They’re also not fabulous with water and are prone to drying up and cracking over time, requiring careful oiling on a regular basis. Basically, this is a leather that looks amazing, but is definitely not very practical. If you opt for this, be prepared to treat it very, very carefully!
Caviar/Pebbled Leather – Caviar leather is a great type of leather. It has a slightly pebbled appearance, making it awesome for hiding marks. It doesn’t have the super shiny appearance of patent, so it provides a bit more of a classic feel. It is not as soft as a calfskin or smooth leather, but it’s a great material if you’re going to be using the item a lot or taking it into places where there will be lots of people and it may get rubbed up against. This is a perfect option for something in-between patent and smooth leather in terms of durability, making it a great choice for someone new to caring for leather.
Once you decide which leather is best for what you’re looking for, make sure to check out my tips for caring for your new purse or shoes! If you take good care of leather, it’ll last you a long long time. Curious about whether the item you’re interested in is a good investment? Check out my post on that here!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back on Thursday for more new content!