Are Leggings a Fashion Blessing or a Curse?
What are Leggings?
Technically, leggings are tights that typically stop above the foot or include a stirrup. They hug the hips, buttocks and legs and are marketed either as undergarments for warmth, figure control, active wear or as stylish outerwear. For the sake of this article we will concentrate on leggings designed for the entire world to see.
Leggings are one of those fashion accessories that evoke strong feelings. You either love or hate them. Whatever your opinion, it appears the legging trend will be around for a while so you might want to learn how to incorporate them into your wardrobe. Versatile leggings can be worn year round and make the transition from casual weekend wear to a night on the town with ease. They're available everywhere and inexpensive which makes them an essential wardrobe component.
That being said, there is definitely a right and wrong way to wear them. This article will help you avoid the pitfalls and assist in finding the appropriate look for your personal style and body type.
The list of legging fabrics is limitless. You can find leggings made from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, bamboo and wool. However, most leggings contain synthetic fibers for shape retention. Look for labels that include a blend of spandex with polyester or nylon to keep your leggings looking like new after repeated washings.
The latest in funky fabric choices include feminine laces, comfy corduroys, faux leathers to appease your inner wild child and jeggings that simulate skin tight blue jeans without the obvious discomfort.
Three Main Types of Leggings
Ankle-length leggings are the most widely available and most popular type. The added length works well during the cooler weather months providing extra warmth. They're are perfect for a workout, weekend shopping excursion or lounging around the house. Wearing these stretchy, forgiving bottoms improve circulation and are far more comfortable than ultra skinny pants.
Mid-calf leggings create a kicky, casual feel for warmer weather. Women with average or long legs are easier to perfect this look. Capri length tends to visually “cut” your leg length. If you're petite, stay with longer tops that gives you the illusion of a longer leg. Capri leggings always look fantastic under a longer t-shirt, flowing tunic or a short dress.
Not a personal favorite of women who are of a certain age as they remind them of that dreadful 1980’s style. Nonetheless, they provide a great alternative to ankle leggings and full tights. The younger generation think they're a brand new trend and are wearing them differently--outside of the shoe to show off the stirrup.
The good news is they are pretty darned versatile. Pair them with sneakers and a varsity jacket for a casual athletic look. Throw a big shirt on over them, a long jacket and add kitten heels for the office. They can easily go from the health club, to work or to the mean streets. Stirrups are a favorite legging style--for at least a while.
Legging Guide for Body Types
No matter your figure type, leggings can be worn tastefully by following these important tips.
If you're a petite one, it's better to opt for ankle-length leggings. Avoid scrunch leg varieties–-the look is too sloppy on a shorter leg. Pair your leggings with high heel or wedge ankle boots in the same color as your leggings to create a long leg. Top them with a long tunic or mini dress and jacket for a casual day of shopping or a weekend getaway.
Full figure gals can also take advantage of the legging fashion trend. Most designers feature plus size leggings making them a necessity for your wardrobe. You'll look fabulous in leggings layered under a long sweater. A sleek knee-high boot will take this look from fall well into winter. This type of outfit goes from office to after work effortlessly. Keep in mind that black leggings are your best friend--they make you look taller and elongate the legs.
Just because you're smaller on the top and rounder on the bottom doesn't mean you should stay away from this fashion trend. Wearing proper pieces will draw the eye upward taking the emphasis away from the hip area. Pear-shape bodies look great with ankle leggings and a top or tunic to minimize your hips. Try a fringed jacket teamed with a flowing scarf. In the spring or fall pair them with strappy gladiator sandals.
Tall and Slender
Tall and lean figures are well-suited for leggings. Make the most of your model-like figure with outfits that highlight your assets. Showcase those long, slender legs by pairing your leggings with an oversized chambray shirt and comfy cardigan. Knee-high riding boots complete this cold weather package. During the summer try a denim miniskirt worn over mid calf leggings. Top them with a brightly colored tee and a pair of flats--either ballets or sandals.
Celebrate your perfect proportions with leggings. Hourglass shapes feature a tiny waist and an upper and lower body with nearly identical measurements. Curvy types can team a cinch waist mini dress with coordinating capri leggings and a pair of cute skimmers. For cooler weather, try a belted tunic over a sleek turtleneck, a pair of dark leggings and a chunky shoe.
Ensure a Proper Fit
When shopping for leggings follow these rules for a proper fit. The legs, hips, rear and crotch should fit snugly but comfortably. Think of the fit as slightly more loose than a pair of tights or panty hose. If you choose scrunched leggings, the excess fabric should be limited to the ankle area. And please remember, leggings are never a suitable substitute for pants under any circumstances. We know you want to show off your amazing bod but resist the urge for fashion’s sake!
Still Need Some Help?
Leggings: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?
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© 2010 Linda Chechar