It’s hard to consider suede in fashion terms without conjuring images of cowboys and the wild west, but hold off from seeking out John Wayne costumes because spring offers an infinitely more stylish slant on the stuff.
To get the science out of the way, suede is a version of leather made from the underside of animal skin, given a brushed, napped effect. It’s far softer and more pliable, hence more versatile and frequently more flattering than other skins. The current resurgence owes much to the Seventies mood that has set the tone for the season. It was patchworked into dresses at J W Anderson’s Loewe debut, while at Gucci, it appeared as everything from classic trench coats to kimono jackets, culottes and button-up skirts.
1/9 Miss Selfridge
Playsuit £39, missselfridge.co.uk
Dress £90, asos.com
Culottes £150, topshop.com
4/9 River Island
Shirt £65, riverisland.com
5/9 Marks and Spencer
Skirt £199, marksandspencer.com
Shorts £5.99, hm.com
Coat £250, Rocha by John Rocha, debenhams.com
8/9 Gerard Darel
Bag £285, gerarddarel.com
Model wears shirt £129, skirt £159, belt £19.99, all by Zara, zara.com
Given its high production cost, suede can be a pricey purchase. Luckily the high street has taken to the trend with gusto this season, meaning both the genuine article and slick look-alikes can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of designer counterparts. The latter isn’t as naff as it may seem: the favourite fabric of Halston, the Seventies designer definer, was Ultrasuede, a synthetic with the same napped finish as suede.
If you only invest in a single suede piece this season, opt for an A-line button-up skirt in classic tan suede, a piece with the potential to become the hardest working item in your wardrobe this summer. Given the preponderance of shift dresses, outerwear, separates and accessories, head-to-toe ensembles are entirely possible, if a little inadvisable given the “yeehaw!” fancy-dress factor.
A word of warning for wardrobe maintenance; unlike its wipe-clean leather cousin, suede is porous and the slightest spill is rapidly absorbed and stained. For practicality, invest in a good suede protector spray – or (attempt to) avoid any treacherous April showers.Reuse content