It's strong, it's stylish and it can be oh so sexy. There's a good reason why leather is way up there in the top five most common fetishes: it has a long history of making people happy. And when I say happy, I mean horny.

If the idea of playing with leather in your love life gets you hot under the collar, here are some things to know about leather love - and some tips on how to indulge.

How Do You Know if You Have a Leather Fetish?

A fetish is best described as an unusual and erotic preoccupation with something that isn’t inherently sexual. Here’s my very simple test:

  • Imagine a highly attractive human of whatever sex you prefer, naked.
  • Now imagine the same person wearing or using leather.
  • If No.2 is waayyy more exciting than No.1, you might just have a thing for leather.
Don’t be shy - you’re definitely not alone. Since BDSM hit the spotlight with bestselling books like "Fifty Shades of Grey," more and more people are exploring their interest in kinky leather goods. And why not? Fetish or not, leather makes for sexy, harmless fun. (Did "Fifty Shades" pique your interest in kink? Check out 9 "Fifty Shades" Questions You Were Too Afraid to Ask.)

Leather's Sexy History

Way back when leather was one of the only materials we humans had to hand, everybody wore it a lot of the time. Even when we had more fabric options, leather remained an important material for all kinds of work wear, from armor to aprons, leather pants and chaps.

Leather really kicked its way into pop culture from the 1920s onward, with the rise of dare devil motorcyclists and pilots in head-to-toe leather. From the postwar 1950s, a range of leather-loving subcultures evolved. Rockers, punks and gay leathermen kept the leather flag flying right into the 1980s. Now, almost every pop singer and movie star works a pair of leather pants at least once in his or her career. And who doesn't love a beautiful leather jacket, pair of shoes or handbag ... or handcuffs?

Leather has a pretty broad appeal, and has long been seen as sensual, fashionable, even dangerous. It isn't hard to make the leap to seeing it as a sex object.

5 Ways to Enjoy Leather Love

There are so many options for getting your kinky on with some leather love. That's part of what makes leather so appealing - it's easily attainable and it's versatile. Here are a few ways to indulge your fetish.

Buy a bunch of leather cushion covers and throws. You can spread them on the bed, scatter them across the floor, or use them to convert your everyday sofa into fetish furniture! (Read more about that in Sex Furniture: A New Adventure in Bondage.)

Explore a New Touch
Leather gloves are a very easy and popular way to explore the sensual feel of leather on skin. Buy a couple of pairs if you’re exploring with a partner so that you can both wear gloves at the same time if you want to. Whether it’s a gentle massage or full-tilt foreplay, leather gloves add a completely different sensation that a lot of people enjoy.

Dress Up
Fetish fashion is pretty mainstream these days, which makes finding leather outfits and accessories easy. Real leather fetish gear can be expensive, so you might want to check out faux leather too and compare prices, or take a look at some DIY fetish leathercraft guides and make your own.

Tie One On
If you’re into bondage and sensory deprivation, why not treat yourself to some leather restraints? There are lots of different types available, from stylish handcuff bracelets made of leather to strappy harnesses or leather chastity gear. A leather blindfold and gag will top it all off nicely if you like to play power games. (Why bondage? Learn more in Bondage With Benefits: What I Learned from BDSM.)

Have Some Discipline
Classic leather implements for BDSM lovers, like whips, crops and floggers, never go out of style. If that sounds like your kind of thing, choose quality products that are built to last - cheaper leather won’t stand up to much punishment!

Other Alternatives

If you love the look and feel of leather but you don’t love the idea that animals died to fuel your fetish - or you just can't afford the real thing - there are some good alternatives. High-quality fake leather made from plastics is usually more lightweight than the real thing, but the surface feels similar and looks almost identical. Ask in a fabrics store or search online for faux leather suppliers to find more ways to get that loving leather feeling feeling. Many sex shops sell toys and accessories in real and fake leather, so check the product descriptions to find out what materials each item uses and choose your favorites.

Leather Bonding

When we hear the word "fetish" we tend to think "leather." In fact, it might just be simplest, most versatile kink out there. It's also sophisticated and sexy as hell. Whether you're into bondage, discipline, erotic leather fashions or just a hot pair of leather shoes, leather and love often go hand in hand.