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Outfits With Leggings: How to Look Fashionable, Modern, Cute and Not Tacky

Updated on April 25, 2012

I'll be perfectly honest, one of the recent fashion trends that surprised me most was the reemergence of leggings. I pretty much thought that was a fashion trend that would forever stay in the 80's. I must say, over time leggings have grown on me, however not without some pretty stringent caveats. When you're picking out outfits to wear with leggings, you really need to know what you're doing. If not, you could be committing one of the most serious of all fashion crimes. They can either look great or downright awful... there's pretty much no middle ground here.

So, I encourage you to read on... for everyone's sake. Some outfits should just never see the light of day.

Oh boy... Great example of a leggings NO!
Oh boy... Great example of a leggings NO! | Source
Absolute no no!
Absolute no no! | Source

Outfits With Leggings: What DOES NOT Work

Ladies, let me first say this: leggings are not pants. They are not to be worn like pants and they don't work as standalone trousers. In reality, they are more like a fashion accessory whose job is to take an ordinary outfit from bland to stylish. Although they're pretty much in their own category, think of them more along the lines of fitting into the tights classification. Generally speaking, you aren't going to see them clumped in with the pants.

Alright, now that we have that solved, let's talk about how NOT to wear leggings.

  • Never, ever wear leggings with short shirts. Again, they are not pants. You might be able to pull this off if you're 8, but not if you're a grown woman. Hear me now, panty lines will rear their ugly heads and no one looks attractive with this get-up. It's tantamount to wearing panty hose with a short shirt, in my opinion. You just don't do it!
  • If you're full-figured, stick with solid colors. There's nothing worse than a stretched-out Zebra pattern on a pair of leggings. It will not do you (or your leggings) justice.
  • Beware not to inadvertently catch that time machine back into the 80's. It's surprisingly easy to do... You must keep the look modern. Wearing your favorite pair of stilt-like stilettos with leggings does not an up-to-date look make! If you're trying to look like Sandy from "Grease", then go for it... A heel is okay, but don't go overboard particularly if you're wearing ones with a flashy pattern.
  • Reserve the shine and neon for a night out on the town. Shiny leggings have their place in a nightclub, for example, but not in the light of day. And if you opt for the glitter look, play down the rest of your outfit by keeping the top and shoes simple.
  • Uggs and leggings don't mix. 'Nuff said.
  • Any shoes that require socks should never even be in the same room as leggings. The only possible exception to this is the leather boots you wear with socks for deodorant purposes.


Definite Leggings "DOS"- Fashionable Outfits With Leggings

Let's first discuss appropriate tops for leggings. How long should the top be? It must be long enough to cover your bottom and your hips. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.

Tops for Leggings: Definite Dos

  • Tunics- patterned, plain or with a splash of color
  • Short dresses and tie dresses (a belt will make you look slim)
  • Long button-up shirts (you can even borrow your husband's or boyfriends!)
  • Long graphic t-shirts
  • Tunic-length sweaters
  • Long cardigans (this does not give you license to break the long top rule, though!) If it's unbuttoned, you need to be wearing a leggings-approved length shirt underneath.
  • Try a blazer or leather jacket over the dress, roll up the sleeves if you like

Adding color on top with plain black, beige or brown leggings is a definite do! Prints, even ones that are busy look fantastic as long as you keep the leggings plain.

What About Shoes, You Ask?

  • Boots are seemingly made to be coupled with leggings, it's a marriage made to last. You can wear knee high or ankle boots. But, if you choose the latter, don't wear them with cropped or capri-length leggings.
  • Heels look great, too. Just beware of overdoing it with over-the-top high heels or you're traipsing into tacky land. Think plain pumps.
  • Fun sandals in the warmer months work well. You can even get away with fancy, adorned flip flops. Just stay away from the ultra casual kinds or you may look funny.
  • Tip: consider the "vamp" of the shoes. Vamp is just a way of describing where the shoe cuts across your foot. So, a low vamp shoe cuts across the front of the foot, near the toes. A high vamp shoe covers most of your foot. Capri-length leggings work best with low vamp shoes.

Tips for Pulling it All Together: Accessorize!

Scarves add that extra bit of sophistication to outfits with leggings. Coordinate the color of the scarf with the leggings and you'll look terrific. They can help dress up an otherwise casual outfit, too.

Don't be shy about wearing long, fancy necklaces! They help to balance the outfit and add to the modern look. We're not talking heavy duty rapper necklaces here, ladies.

A fun, wide bracelet looks great with the legging/tunic pairing. You can even add a bit of Bohemian flair if you choose the right accessories and tunic.

Have fun out there... just remember my leggins laws and you'll be just fine.


Submit a Comment

  • JewelryBlogger profile image


    5 years ago from Australia

    Solid advice, good hub.

  • Kimberly Vaughn profile image

    Kimberly Vaughn 

    5 years ago from Midwest

    Great suggestions! I actually just got my first pair of leggings and I wasn't sure how to wear them.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Don't agree with the comment about not wearing leggings as trousers. I wear them that way all the time with my bomber jacket, and I look great. I am tall and athletic, with a nice bottom, long legs and no gap, and I look good in them with knee boots. You can wear whatever you want, however you want. I wouldn't listen to any article telling me how I should dress. I find that women who are more conscious of their bodies always make these types of comments. If you have the body for it , then so it is.

  • wordscribe43 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elsie Nelson 

    6 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

    I'm very proud of you, vocalcoach! You're exactly the kind of person who should be wearing leggings then. Thanks for the visit and the comment.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Super advice on wearing leggings. I'm older and love leggings, but I am very careful about wearing them and when I do I follow your rules. Great it! UP!


  • wordscribe43 profile imageAUTHOR

    Elsie Nelson 

    6 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

    Thank you, Dave. This is one of those fashion crimes that simply affects ALL of us, wouldn't you say? I agree, they can look very classy if done right. Great to see you, as always.

    Thanks, sturner1. About the thin leggings... I should have mentioned that faux pas. If they're so thin they look like panty hose, then just say NO. Thanks for coming by!

  • sturner1 profile image


    6 years ago from Georgia

    I loved your hub!!! I hope more people read this before they decide to wear leggings. I think it's so gross to see people that have on thin leggings that look like they are walking around naked. Great Pointers :)

  • davenmidtown profile image

    David Stillwell 

    6 years ago from Sacramento, California

    Wordscribe43! Finally, someone wrote a great hub on this topic. I can not tell you how many times I have been someplace like the grocery store and wondered what the HELL was "she" was thinking leaving the house like that. I have seen some really cute outfits too with leggings and those outfits almost always look "rich" and classy...I like the Japanese Tokyo look for leggings and wildness... kind of like the Harajuku look... but come on people... leggings were not meant to be pant!

    Votes up and awesome....


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