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The Purchase That Made Me Feel Like A Sexy Woman

The item may totally surprise you.

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Sofia Romagnolo
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It was December. My birthday was coming up. I craved something shiny and new. Two weeks in a row, I had gone out with friends sporting leather pants — one had worn them to lunch. She had just returned from Paris, where she had gone “thrifting” with her daughter, and wore a vintage blouse that floated and shimmered as she spoke. I don’t remember what I was wearing — which says it all.

A few days later, another friend wore leather pants to dinner. Both women looked gorgeous.

For years, I had been relying on a uniform of jeans and corduroys, crewnecks and polo sweaters and leather sneakers. At night, if my husband and I went out for dinner, I might change things up by wearing high-heeled black suede boots and big gold hoop earrings. It all worked, “work” being the operative word; I never felt glamorous or chic. The uniform allowed me to dress for what I spent my days doing: teaching writing workshops via video at our kitchen table; writing and editing on the living room couch. It was time to up my dressing game.

Remember the actress Sarita Choudhury, when she played Saul’s wife, Mira Berenson, on Homeland? She looked so tired and put upon. Then, she appeared in HBO Max’s Sex and the City revival TV series, And Just Like That. On And Just Like That, Choudhury plays Seema Patel, a drop-dead chic Manhattan realtor.

I wanted a similar transformation.

I was also coming out of a long stretch of dressing to be invisible. Shortly after my father passed away in 2005, I wore a clingy dress under a heavy black velvet blazer to a breakfast we hosted on Yom Kippur. While I was setting up the food, I took off the blazer. My stepfather noticed. “They shouldn’t let you out of the house in that dress,” he said.

Acknowledging the ferocity of the male gaze is barely tolerable at work; it's unbearable at home. I took to wearing baggy shirts and sweaters. Time passed; my stepfather passed away.

During the pandemic, I gave up all sorts of things: Botox, manicures, alcohol. We sold our house in New Jersey and moved to Manhattan. Lights that had dimmed began to burn brighter. I felt better than I had in years, craved a little glam rock. Or as my therapist pointed out, “Leather pants are the anti-Sylvia Plath.” 

Another friend felt similarly stuck in a dressing rut, so together, we made appointments with stylists at Nordstrom. I hadn’t used a personal shopper since my younger son’s bar mitzvah nine years earlier. I knew I would spend more money with a stylist. I also knew I would end up with clothes that I would love, rather than simply shrug on.

The morning of our appointment, a stylist named Annie texted and asked for my height and a full-length photo. A few hours later, my friend and I walked to the stylists’ lounge at Nordstrom. I took one look at the stylist and thought. “Oh no!” Annie was tall, blond, gorgeous and ridiculously chic, in wide-legged pants and an oversize blazer, an outfit I could never pull off. She was 30; I was probably the age of her mother. My expectations plummeted; my friend, who was assigned a young male stylist, remained cheerful. The stylists showed us to the dressing rooms.

There were a wide range of pants and sweaters on two racks in a large fitting room. On one rack was a pair of black leather pants. It was not an easy two hours; Annie and I were at odds over how I should dress. I wanted loose shirts and sweaters that fell to the middle of my thighs and hid everything; Annie argued that shorter tops made my legs look longer. “You’re particular,” she said. Finally, the moment came to try on the black leather pants. I slid them on. They were flattering and ridiculously comfortable. Annie said to wear them with a cropped black turtleneck sweater, or a black blazer and blouse. She also had me try on a pair of bell-bottom jeans. Reader, I bought it all.

A few nights later, my friend and I went out with our husbands, who had been roommates in college. My friend described the clothing I had bought. “Laura’s dressing for her second husband,” my friend's husband said. Not true, I said. I was quite happy with my first husband but knew what my friend’s husband was suggesting: Leather pants imply sex and bondage and come hither. If nothing else, leather pants said, “Check me out.”

Buying leather pants is one thing; wearing them another. Back home, my husband asked if I planned to wear the leather pants sans underwear. “That would be a ‘no’,” I said.

I looked at my calendar to see when I could wear the leather pants; it was late December, we had many occasions to dress up. The first night I planned to wear them, it snowed; I didn’t want to risk ruining them. The second night, I planned to wear them to a friend’s birthday dinner, but one friend said she would be coming from shiva and I thought it might be disrespectful to wear leather pants with someone who had just attended a funeral. Finally, a Saturday afternoon arrived; my husband and I were attending a matinee with a friend who owned a pair of leather pants and her husband (who didn’t). I was headed out of town the next day, so I put the leather pants on and began to pack. My older son called and we chatted. I got so lost in conversation and the pants were so comfortable that after we hung up the phone, I briefly thought I was wearing pajamas.

Since that afternoon, I have worn the leather pants multiple times. Out to dinner with my husband for Valentine’s Day, to the ballet with my mother and basically, whenever I want. When I wear them, I feel fabulous. Last night, we went out with my husband’s aunt. “You look glamorous,” she said. “You’ve been looking very pretty these days.” (Needless to say, I was wearing the bell-bottom jeans, not the leather pants.) “I’ve been trying harder,” I said and thanked her.

The dress my stepfather commented on all those years ago still hangs in my closet. I doubt I’ll ever wear it again. The leather pants are enough. 

Have you ever owned a pair of leather pants? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle