Stop for a moment. When you hear "leather," what's the first thing that comes to mind?
If you're like a lot of folks, you're thinking jacket, black or biker. Think again.
Advanced tanning and dyeing methods have made leather more than just Harley wear. It's everywhere.
"What's become mainstream is the comfort," said Lili Glassman, managing director of the Leather Apparel Association. "People love the feeling of wearing it. It's fashionable and it's sensual, but it's also practical."
But don't take slink to work.
"In certain businesses, a leather skirt can be fine," advised Susan Bixler, author of "The Professional Image." "The key is that it has to be long enough and appropriate. Before you buy a leather skirt, sit down in it in front of a mirror."
Chris Scardino, associate publisher of "Leather Today" magazine, said the "stigma of a woman wearing a leather skirt is gone."
Why? "Because it doesn't look like a piece of wood that she's wrapped in." The lightweight softness of pig, lamb and deerskin, he said, has replaced "the hardened cow."
Leather isn't cheap. But advocates argue that its durability and comfort merit the cost.
The International Fabricare Institute reminds buyers:
* Avoid a snug fit. Hides are stretched during tanning and some shrinkage can be expected.
* Choose light and pastel colors. They're less likely to fade in cleaning.