Okay, let’s jump right into the first, very important rule about leggings. Despite the fact that leggings have a waistband and two pant legs, leggings are not pants in the traditional sense and should not be worn as such. I don’t care if you take six Zumba classes a week and can bounce a quarter off your bottom, please don’t show us your tushes when you wear them. I shake my head as I give this obvious advice, yet, until I go at least one week without seeing someone (toned or untoned) walking around in a short top and leggings I will continue to preach. Nobody wants to see your bid’ness, and this includes any views from the front, too. No matter how thick they are, your leggings should be used like opaque tights without feet and anything you wear with them should cover your butt.
The best leggings to buy
Now that’s that out of the way, let’s talk about the types of leggings to buy. When I first started wearing leggings I started out with a cheap pair not knowing if this was a trend I’d embrace full on. I soon regretted going this route. It was only after a few washes that I noticed that these cheap leggings got stretched out, became ill-fitting and that holes were forming in them quickly. I never purchased a cheap pair of leggings again because the money spent replacing them with cheap replacement pairs could have easily gotten me one pair in a better quality. Leggings are sort of like good opaque tights– buy nice or buy twice…or three or four times. So, if you are going to buy leggings, buy better.
Leggings brands I like
First, I love my Genie Slim and Tone Leggings. I know, I know, they are sold like bad As Seen On TV commercials and look cheesy, but for the inexpensive price tag they really do what they say. Not only do I feel slimmer and more toned in them but they offer support, something important to someone like me who stands a lot.
Another popular favorite, which I have no personal experience with, is Eileen Fisher’s leggings, for their comfortable and light year round feel.
For longevity, another popular style is Danskin’s 1562 ankle leggings. This makes sense. If you are going to wear something that dancers have been wearing for decades you might as well go right to the source.
Whichever brand you choose, the most important thing to look for is substantial fabric that has some beefiness to it and good recovery in the Lycra or spandex. Good recovery means that the fabric will bounce back quickly when you stretch it. The better the recovery the longer the leggings will last before they start to bag out and become misshapen. The beefiness is critical in the fabric for a few reasons: First, you don’t want there to be too much grin-through when you wear your leggings (grin-through means you can see your skin through the fabric when stretched), and, secondly, the beefier the fabric the more support you will have when wearing them.
How to Wear Leggings
To help you get inspired with outfit ideas for your leggings, here are five outfit examples, all using J. Crew’s Essential Signature Leggings, which come in black, navy and carbon (grey). In addition, like every week in this series, to show you how to maximize what may already exist in your wardrobe, in addition to showing you five ways to wear a pair of leggings, I will be re-purposing some items several times in this post in addition to using wardrobe items used in past posts in this series.
As you know I don’t wear black, but, admittedly, I do own black leggings. When I wear them I often reach for cognac accessories to warm up and bring richness to my black leggings. This is why I always say that cognac accessories shoes and bags will get you more mileage than your black ones, they’re more versatile in that they can work with black and brown, plus other neutral colors like grey and navy. With this olive Max Studio top, I styled the leggings and sweater with a pair of Kenneth Cole Reaction cognac booties and a cognac Michael Kors handbag. The leggings instantly get richer in look, especially when styled with a brown pair of wood earrings by K. Amato and a gold Stella & Dot necklace.
Leggings are great for taking summer dresses into fall or for underneath autumn dresses that may be too short and where opaque tights may not be enough. Here I styled this Mango tunic dress with a pair of leggings, used the same black boots from the first look and added a complementary pop of color through a burgundy Modcloth handbag. A pair of purple and teal Holy Harlot earrings and simple silver bracelet by Blu Bijoux finishes the outfit.
Let’s face it, most of wear leggings because they are comfortable, so it makes sense to find a way to wear them in a comfy, cozy manner. One way to do this, without looking slovenly and unkempt, is to do it with a long, casual cardigan, like this one from Zara. With it, I layered a Mango turtleneck underneath and styled it with a weekend bootie by Vince Camuto. For a pop of color, I used a red Big Buddha handbag and the look is simply finished with a pair of silver Stella & Dot earrings.
For the last look, I styled leggings with a soft pink tunic blouse from Zara, something that works as long as the blouse covers the butt, and added a grey pair of dressier booties by Calvin Klein. The outfit is finished using the same bag and necklace from previous looks and earrings by Lucky Brand.