[*squelch*] Ooo, pardon me. [*squelch*]
What are those wet squishy noises, you may wonder.
It's because I'm wearing a pair of soaked leather pants. With some balled socks stuffed down the waistband.
What? You're still perplexed? OK. Here's the whole story.
Leather trousers are back in fashion, in a way the world hasn't seen since the late '80s. I have been reluctant to dabble in the trend, for two reasons. The first is that in many ways I am far too old to be wearing leather trousers. Let's just say 45+ ways.
The second is that I love secondhand clothes. But secondhand leather trousers are, by nature, nasty. Not the good kind of nasty. More of a "I can't be bothered to take them to the specialist dry cleaner after that heavy night out dancing in an unventilated club, so I'll drop them off at the thrift store instead nasty". Yuck-o.
But then I read that leather can actually be handwashed--even chucked into a gentle cycle in the washing machine, if you have a machine capable of such things.
And so yesterday, when I discovered a pair of really nice and nearly new leather trousers in a nearby charity shop for £5.95/$10, it seemed like kismet. I couldn't try them on in the shop, but they looked approximately my size.
Once home, I discovered that they were not my size. In fact a full size too small, whereby the waistband cut into skin and the leather round back was stretched tight as a drum, fully enforcing all the worst clichés of hens trying to dress like rock chicks.
Luckily, though, further Googling informed me that it is possible to stretch leather trousers. The knowledge base here is primarily the motorcycle riders, who wear leather much for protection against wind and road rash as because it looks undeniably cool. And according to the forum at Speedzilla Motorcycle, leather will stretch wonderfully if you wear it into the shower and then go for a ride at top speed on your Harley to dry off.
Not having a motorcycle, I settled for a sink wash and for riding the chair at my computer, having added a few extra inches to my form by stuffing in the socks. The leather is drying slowly, too slowly for my liking, but the technique seems to be solid gold.
Some lessons learned about washing and/or stretching leather trousers:
1) The color bleeds like you won't believe. Wash garment separately, or you'll be sorry. And don't use a nice towel to dry.
2) The color bleed issue is probably why most manufacturers recommend specialist cleaning, but a lining, especially an acetate lining, could also melt clean away if you were silly enough to touch it with an iron. Air dry your leather.
3) Leather is an organic material that was happily waterproof while on the back of the animal in question. It can take getting soaked. It cannot take being dried too close to a source of heat. Dry it slowly and carefully, as you would wet leather shoes.
4) If the leather is especially dried out, applying a nice leather conditioner will do wonders for its appearance.
5) I wouldn't put leather trousers in a washing machine, even on a delicates cycle, but I might try it with an especially gungy, yet tough, leather jacket. Turn it inside out first.
Now, they're almost dry. And still a bit too tight for my liking, but not so ridiculously snug that I won't put a picture up to show the result. A couple more hours stretching and they should be just fine (plus they will continue to ease up with ongoing wear).
One last tip: if you're over a certain age and you want to wear leather trousers, here's how to do it stylishly. Cover your bum. Unless you ride a Harley, in which case, I bow down to your rules.