As a fashion trend, leggings have proved they have serious staying power. But despite being an essential wardrobe staple for years, confusion about how to wear them lingers on. Are they pants? Are they tights? What fashion rules apply?! The leggings craze is fueled by their balance of on-trend style with simple ease, their body-friendly look yet comfortable fit. And they can be worn in so many different ways once you master the art of layering. Having a variety of colors, prints, and textures creates the foundation of a modern girl’s wardrobe. With a stack of options at the ready, your morning style routine will get a hundred times easier. Lastly, whether you dress them up or dress them down, leggings are a transitional staple that can carry you from season to season. So dive into our mini-guide for styling tips, must-have pairs, and inspiration for every season!
Fashion History 101
Leggings aren’t just an 80’s flashback. It turns out that they date all the way back to the Renaissance age! Well, kind of. Men and women have been wearing something similar in various forms throughout the centuries for warmth and protection. They first became popular in their modern form after the creation of lycra in 1959, with stars like Mary Tyler Moore and Audrey Hepburn popularizing the new style with cute capri versions. Then the fitness and aerobics craze of the 80’s took leggings from the dance studio to the street, with pop stars like Madonna and Cindy Lauper changing how women dressed. Leggings returned to the fashion scene almost ten years ago, and they are here to stay.
7 Must-Have Pairs
1. Basic blackAlways classic and easy to layer with other neutrals and prints alike. But don’t be afraid to branch out!
2. Colorful cheerThe bright hues in colorful leggings liven up the neutrals in an ensemble.
3. Texture timeMix in a pair of textured leggings, like a cable knit or faux leather, to add visual interest in layered ensembles.
4. Print varietyCute print leggings, from paisley to chevron stripes, instantly elevate a casual weekend outfit.
5. Fleece pleaseWhen the weatherman predicts a cold front, don’t leave the house without fleece lined leggings to keep you warm
6. Floral adornmentFlorals are perfect for adding feminine flair. They can be styled with tailored pieces for pulled together sophistication, or with leather and boots for a more edgy vibe.
7. CapriDress up capris with a nod to Audrey Hepburn by pairing with a sweater tunic, a cute patterned top, or an oversized white button-up. Capris are also perfect for yoga class if you toss on a loose tank top!
5 Essential Styling Tips
1. Balance Prints and SolidsIf your leggings are a solid color, try pairing them with a patterned top. If you’re wearing print leggings, then opt for a solid top. Unless of course you’re a pro at pattern mixing! Though stripes and polka dots can be treated like neutrals and paired with patterns accordingly.
2. Length MattersFirst off, let’s be clear—leggings are not pants. They are more substantial than tights, which means you can choose longer tops and tunics in addition to dresses and skirts. But definitely pair them with something that covers your rear.
3. Lots of LayersLayering is key. Aim for 2-3 top layers, like a tunic top with a scarf or a print sweater over a monochrome button-up with an oversized jacket thrown over.
4. Shoe ConfusionBallerina flats, and other charming dress flats, keep your ensemble looking polished. Knee-high boots and ankle booties are a cold weather must. Pairing leggings with pumps can have a glam retro feel, so be sure that suits the occasion. The athleisure style is everywhere right now, making sporty sneakers and high tops another common footwear addition. You can pull it off by adding classic touches, like a knit scarf or a structured peacoat. Wedges and stilettos are off-limits with leggings, but strappy and embellished sandals are perfect for summer.
5. Accessorize your heart outAs with adding layers, pick accessories for your leggings outfit, like a fringe shoulder bag for a more bohemian ensemble or a statement necklace when chic is the goal.
Legging Style Tips for
Every Body Type
As with any trend, women of every body type ask themselves, can I wear this? Will this look good on me? If you’ve been wondering about leggings, the verdict is in: leggings look great on every body type! Leggings can look chic and stylish no matter your shape. But there are things to consider in styling a leggings outfit that will be flattering for your body type and to perfectly accentuate your figure.
PetiteIf you’re petite, it’s best to avoid capri leggings. The cropped hemline doesn’t visually elongate the legs as full length leggings will. And when choosing footwear, aim for a color close to the color of the leggings to create a longer silhouette line. For the best silhouette, choose a dark pair of leggings and pair with tall boots in the same shade.
TallIf you’re tall, leggings let you show off one of your best assets: long legs! Wear leggings with tunics, shift dresses, and mini dresses that otherwise would have been a little too short on their own. You can also add a long cardigan for a draped layering effect.
Curvy/HourglassIf you have an hourglass figure, it’s all about drawing attention to your waist. Belted tunics will accentuate your feminine waistline. Leggings in smaller, tight prints or dark solid colors are the most flattering.
Pear shapedIf you’re pear shaped, create a leggings outfit that draws more attention to your upper body with a brightly colored or printed tunic top. Accessories such as a statement necklace or patterned scarf can also balance an outfit. A tunic style top that covers your bottom should fall to the widest part of your hips for the most flattering silhouette.