A world where we have to choose between buttery classic leather and shiny patent leather is a world we don’t want to live in. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Both are timeless classics in their own right; that Italian calfskin jacket we snagged in Florence five years ago is the versatile investment piece we can rely on to go with everything, and its patent-leather sister is our go-to when we want to kick things up to cutting-edge.
Though both traditional leather and patent leather have their place in any closet, one is way easier to shop for than the other. Traditional leather is everywhere, and even faux traditional leather gets the job done on a budget. But patent leather is much less abundant—and the fake stuff tends to skew plastic Halloween costume, and not even in a kitschy-cute way.
Since we’re truly passionate about patent leather—and committed to making your wardrobe just as sleek and shiny as ours is—we’ve done some heavy lifting for you. We’ve found 17 patent leather pieces no wardrobe is complete without.
And we’ve done you one better: We’ve pulled these must-haves from a range of price points. Because it’s just as possible to find a legit-looking biker jacket for under $50 as it is to find a tried-and-true investment trench for more than $1,000. Don’t believe us? Flip through the slideshow—we dare you.
A Biker Jacket
Like your favorite leather jacket but shinier.
Vinyl zip-detail biker jacket, $47 at ASOS
An Understated Tote
If you're new to patent leather, a bag is a perfect place to start. This one's not as starkly shiny as other patent-leather pieces, making it an excellent gateway into the trend.
White Croco stamped leather tote, $675 at Forzieri
A Pair of Skinnies
For those moments when you want someone to tell you your butt looks cute, but you don't want to straight-up ask them.
High-rise vinyl skinny, $495 at Rag & Bone
Rag & Bone.
A Go-to Clutch
The perfect pop of color for your night out.
Steve Madden Global clutch, $29 at Macy's
Dress like a character from The Matrix, but make it fashion.
Lacquered fitted trench coat, $1,295 at Sies Marjan
A Fanny Pack
*Kisses Alexander Wang's dad sneaker-clad feet.*
Attica fanny pack, $695 at Alexander Wang
A Bodycon Skirt
Date night? Girls' night out? Girls' night in? Going through a breakup? Getting married? We can't think of an occasion where this skirt doesn't work.
Faux Patent Leather Skirt, $32 at Forever 21
An Ankle Boot
These boots are super classic, and they bring a powerful edge to pretty much any outfit. Wear them with your favorite power suit or blazer dress for the ultimate werking woman look.
Aurella boot, $100 at Aldo
A White Jacket
A patent finish takes these ruffles from sweet to heat.
Ruffle detail vinyl jacket, $47 at ASOS
If anyone can pull off patent leather, it's Balmain. (And you wearing Balmain, of course.)
Balmain high-waisted faux patent leather shorts, $1,160 at Browns Fashion
A Statement Belt
We need this belt, stat—it's a fashion emergency.
Cruz patent belt, $38 at Free People
A Cropped Jacket
The cropped sleeves and hem leave this patent-leather jacket erring on the girlier end of badass.
Gia jacket, $118 at Unif Clothing
A Biker Hat
Elevate your wardrobe in one single piece.
Biker hat, $758 at Manokhi
A Mini Skirt
Pair it with a vintage T-shirt by day and a bodysuit by night.
24 Sèvres Racer skirt, $238 at Rag & Bone
Rag & Bone.
An Investment Bag
The Alma is a less-traditional LV bag, but it's also one of our faves. The deep wine color gives us all the fall feels.
ALMA PM, $2,390 at Louis Vuitton
Consider these the sartorial equivalent of a motorcycle.
Patent-leather high-waisted leggings, $1,295 at Alexander Wang
We're starting a GoFundMe to buy these babies. Don't @ us.
Patent-leather ankle boot, $1,690 at Gucci