Carola Long: 'Christopher Kane’s leather trousers look really quite sexywhen motionless, but best of luck walking in them'

It might be a universal law of fashion that trends work in cycles, but there are some items so derided, so naff, that they seem destined never to return to the catwalk. And then they do. Welcome back, leather trousers. The legwear favoured by goths, New Romantics, Eighties balladeers, and David Hasselhoff appeared on the autumn/winter catwalks of Givenchy, Christopher Kane and Alexander McQueen.

This won't come as a shock to fashion's early adopters, who will have duly noted the likes of Kate Moss and Agyness Deyn sporting them, and already worn theirs in to the stage where they can actually bend their knees. However, the more cautious toe-dippers of the fashion world (you there, still in skinny jeans, you know who you are) won't be able to ignore them much longer as the trend is about to take off. A recent Topshop consignment was snapped up in a matter of hours.

Forget the pleat fronts and suburban raunchiness that Roger McGough's gently satirical poem "Mothers in Leather Trousers" brings to mind ("what man hasn't turned and tripped over his feet/polished anthracite with the promise of heat"). Or Edwina Currie posing in leathers after she disclosed her affair with John Major. This season's versions exude a brooding, gothic, rock'n'roll sexiness.

Apart from Louis Vuitton's loose, cropped style, the new leather trousers, or leggings – as pairs without pockets or zips/obvious exit strategies are being billed – are drainpipe-skinny. This isn't the most democratic trend, although being young and willowy isn't enough without attitude. That's why leather trousers, with their bondage overtones, suit Angelina Jolie, but would make the wholesome Jennifer Aniston look like she was off to a punk-themed fancy-dress party.

Not only are leather trousers hard to pull off in style terms, they can literally be hard to pull off. In the name of research, your fearless correspondent was nearly forced to spend the night in the fashion cupboard with a pair of synthetic strides stuck round her ankles in the manner of a Tory MP mid-sex scandal, while trying to extract herself from them.

However, while the risk of a wardrobe malfunction might run high – note the episode of Friends where Ross's leather trousers shrink as he overheats during a date, and the film premiere where Angelina's split across her bottom – the right pair, worn with punky spike heels (please, no trainers or ballet pumps) and an oversized blouse can look seriously cool.

Stick to black, of course, and if you can't afford Givenchy, try Topshop Unique's pair at £150, or the stretchy ones by Les Chiffoniers at Matches (£528). Christopher Kane's (above, £800 at Harvey Nichols) look really quite sexy when motionless, but I wish you the best of luck with walking or sitting down.