The other day I got into a “philosophical” conversation about leggings with two coworkers, Dan and Danielle (shout out!). Miss Danielle’s poor eyes had just been scarred. She had spotted an unsuspecting fashion victim wearing leggings with a sweatshirt…a sweatshirt that didn’t cover the booty (gasp!). Luckily Dan and I were there to diffuse the situation (we got your back Danielle). I mean come on, how many of us have seen those pictures in the magazines we read? You know the ones—they’re stamped with a giant, red “DON’T” and the subject’s eyes are covered with a discrete black rectangle (as if THAT would spare them the embarrassment). My heart goes out to these people. I mean, they probably didn’t even know they were offending anyone, right? So it got us all wondering: how does one elegantly pull off leggings?

Once upon a time spandex pants were only available in Walmart for say, runners and stay-at-home-moms (no offense intended moms- we all know you have the toughest job there is). In case you’ve ever wondered, leggings became part of the fashion scene in the 1960s as a modification of capris pants (only tighter). Fashion designer, Patricia Field, claims she invented the modern leggings in the late 1970s. Sorry Patty, I’ve never heard of you. I did, however, do some investigating on your website– some cute accessories but for a pretty penny (and very similar to Betsy Johnson). What REALLY revived them back into mainstream fashion? For those of us born after 1980, I recall it being a little company called Abercrombie & Fitch. Now, we all know the aesthetic of the American company: distressed denim, flip-flops, and lots ‘n lots of brown! If you were ever a customer (I know, the things we learn) you might also remember the company’s inability to produce items appropriate for the fall and winter seasons. Around winter 2006 they marketed their staple denim miniskirts with brown or gray leggings (I only remember this because I was an unfortunate employee at the time).  Like it or not the A&F label IS fashion forward (they also were the first commercial carriers of skinny jeans).

As you may have figured from my previous rant (if you didn’t know before), there is a right way to wear leggings and there’s a wrong way.  Let’s talk “dos.”

Legging dos:

  • Style with a relatively loose skirt, dress, or long shirt. Yes, one that covers the booty.
  • Rock studs or black sequins (Heidi Klum style). Black ones are vanilla. Amp up your style with some embellishment!
  • Wear a cropped pair that shows off your ankle. This balances out your top and bottom proportions. Ankle-length leggings create an upside-down triangle affect (not good) so avoid these unless you’re pairing them with a boot.
  • Pair with heals and a long, baggy sweater for an easy sexy look.

Legging don’ts:

  • Wear them as pants to work. Need I say more? Under dresses, however, is still acceptable.
  • Rock any that have a graphic. This is bad no matter how skinny you are—it creates an illusion that you’re bigger than you actually are.
  • White……..NEVER!  This just looks bad and you can usually see through them.
  • Wear florescent ones and/or style them with a denim miniskirt unless under the age of 16
  • “Jeggings.” If you don’t already know these are leggings meant to look like jeans. Leggings + jeans = jeggings. Let’s just say anything that tries to be two things at once is a bad idea (think mullets, skorts, and that weird peanut butter and jelly that comes in the same jar).

I, _____________________________, do solemnly swear to abide by the above leggings laws thereby sparing myself of public ridicule and thus ensuring complete fabulosity.  I hereby also commit myself to the betterment of womankind and pledge to pay this leggings knowledge forward to every sister, cousin, roommate, friend, and acquaintance thereby aiding Women Fashion Online’s initiative to make world a better dressed place.


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