Question: “Leggings are not pants”—is it really true?
Answer: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my personal opinion is that no, leggings are not pants—nor will they ever be. That’s the short answer. With that being said, fashion is never black and white. And if there’s one trend that falls in a gray area, it’s wearing leggings as pants. So why are some fashionistas (like myself) against it? For starters, some leggings can be too sheer and tight. And while that whole second-skin-thing might make you feel super comfortable, skin-tight leggings can result in a front-wedgie—otherwise known as the dreadful camel toe. Yikes!
Secondly, leggings provide very little support and shape in the three fatal areas where most of us need it. Yep, you guessed it: the rear end, hips and thighs. Sure, fashion doesn’t have to be uptight or uncomfortable, but there’s something about leggings that screams lazy. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that styling them the right way can make you look effortlessly chic. Lastly, if you wear the wrong type of leggings, you might reveal way more than you intended like panty lines or your underwear.
Well, now that we’ve gotten the negative aspects out of the way—let’s talk about how you can rock leggings (as opposed to pants or jeans). But before you read these styling tips, make sure you choose the right type of leggings. American Apparel has a huge selection, and it’s the best place to shop for a variety of styles, textures and colors. One fashion rule that can’t be broken is that leggings should be thick and opaque, which means others won’t be able to see through them in direct sunlight. Black, opaque leggings (not black tights) or leather leggings are sleek and figure-flattering for any size. For thin mints, black leggings add more shape and bulk—and for curvier ladies, they can be extremely slimming.
Say yes to leggings with…
- Short dresses, mini skirts or sweater dresses
- Long and fitted tunics
- Plain or chambray button-downs
- Long sweaters
- Boyfriend shirts
- Cardigans or sweaters
- Structured blazers and leather jackets
- Oversized t-shirts
- Long silk blouses
- Heels, wedges, combat boots or moccasins
A simple way to approach this is to layer up (in order to avoid a legging-dominated look). For black or dark-colored leggings, try different prints and patterns with your tops, jackets and accessories to keep things interesting. As long as your top half covers your backside and hits about mid-thigh, half the battle has already been won.
Say no to leggings with…
- Tank tops
- Crop tops
- Any regular-length top—unless you plan to tie a sweater or shirt around your
- waist or add a jacket with a scarf to balance proportions.
When in doubt, follow this simple rule: If it’s fitted on the bottom, vouch for something loose on top. You don’t want to look tacky or cheap, so stay away from shiny, ultra tight and white leggings. Tops that don’t cover the area between the waistband and crotch is the ultimate no-no.
The ongoing debate over whether or not leggings are appropriate to wear as pants is sure to continue throughout fashion cycles. The way you style them will be the biggest determining factor when it comes to which side of the debate (and your tush) you’ll end up supporting.
Are you pro-leggings as pants, or do you think they should be reserved for the gym or under a dress?