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I guess I’m feeling pretty brave today! I’ve decided to write about a topic that provokes some very heated arguments among those in the fashion and style blogging world. Don’t believe me? Just google “leggings as pants” and you’ll see what I mean….obviously finish reading MY post first, then google to your heart’s content!

Without further adieu, let’s get right into my thoughts on the matter.

Can leggings be worn as pants? What’s my answer? Well, initially I’d say no. WAIT…. before you break out the baseball bat, pull off your earrings, take your heels off, and get ready to give me an epic thrashing, hear me out….

This is one of those style questions I am asked the most, so I know first hand, that it can be a confusing topic.  But it doesn’t have to be, just take a few things into consideration before you make your decision on how you’d like to wear them.  Because that’s just it, it’s YOUR decision on what you want to wear, and how you want to wear it. But since I am asked so often, I thought I’d offer my suggestions.

By the way, most of the time when someone asks about wearing leggings as pants, they mean with a shorter top, not as a layering piece underneath a longer tunic style top. I think for most, that’s a given. 

Here are 5 considerations in making your decision.

1.Observe the opacity.

Remember a few years back, when Lululemon got into a bit of hot water, where photos of celebrities with their thongs showing through the leggings, were plastered all over the internet? This is a prime example of an issue with opacity.

Lulu leggings may be the exception here…

usually, the more inexpensive the leggings, the more thin and transparent they’re likely to be.  

There are always going to be exceptions, but this is the general rule of thumb. If they are see through, I’d suggest keeping them as a layering piece under a tunic or long cardigan. Let’s keep those privates, …well private!

2.Look at the fabrication.

My absolute favorite textiles, in leggings for “grown up” women, are faux leather and ponte knit.

I’m also a big fan of real leather leggings, but they can be pricey. I got a pair of moto leather leggings from J Crew a few years back, and they’re still in heavy rotation, so for me, cost per wear has been met multiple times over.

 They provide an elevated, sophisticated look, even to the most casual outfits.

 Both materials comfortably straddle the line between a legging and a pant, depending on how you style them. They will not be transparent in any way, so you’re in the safe zone, if in doubt. For ponte knit, I love J Crew Pixie Pants, newly renamed the Any Day Pant, and for faux leather leggings, Spanx has the competition beat hands down. I own these, they were an instant favorite.  I got these as well, for a more edgy look. You really can’t go wrong with either.

If you’re not familiar with Spanx, go take a look at their stellar reviews and make sure you write a love letter to Sara Blakely for inventing them!

If Spanx or Pixie pants are out of your budget, I’ve seen other ponte knit pants that would work well as leggings.  I found this pair and this one, that are well priced. I can’t vouch for the wear, but as a ponte knit, I’d venture to say they will be good options.

 Ponte pants are sort of a cross between a pant and a legging.

Then why aren’t they called peggings?…just sayin.

They’re made using a double knit process that creates a firm, but stretchy fit.

Now do you see why I love them? They’re exactly what a “grown woman” needs, FIRM…but still stretchy.  

Remember…. three things that don’t lie: alcohol, children and leggings!!!

When shopping for faux leather leggings, look at the texture, make sure they aren’t too shiny. A high sheen will act like a mirror to reflect what’s on the inside, amplifying it outward. I have cellulite that I don’t need to show astronauts in outer space, so I’ll always opt for a more matte faux leather.  Bonus, the more matte, the more realistic it tends to look.  

Of course, there are so many more fabrications available, but these are my personal favorites and what I always recommend.

3.Consider the finishing details.

 Do they have a zipper? Do they have belt loops?  Do they have pockets? If these details are present, chances are, they’re cut to be worn more as fitted pants. If your intention is to wear them as pants, give them a try, you may be able to do a slight front or side tuck of your shirt to show the zipper or belt loop, therefore making them look more like pants and less like leggings.

4.Be mindful how you style them.

This is where things might get a bit touchy for some of you.  Keep in mind, this is MY opinion. I love to have fun with clothes, but I will never sacrifice my modesty in doing so.  I’ve been there and done that in my youth! What’s modest to me, may not be modest to you. I have no problem with deep v tops, but, I will never wear leggings unless my rear is at least halfway covered and my……well, let’s just call it “hoohah” is covered! Hey, trying not to be offensive, some people are weird about the terminology.  Also, for some of you, keep in mind…. those desert dwelling animals with a hump and have toes…yes TMI!!!…had to be said!

Again, when it comes to levels of modesty, it’s all perception.

I prefer to style any bottoms that are “leggings-adjacent”, with a tunic top, long button down shirt, or at least a long blazer or cardigan to cover my rear.

5.Remember to create balance.

Leggings are fitted. In order to create balance, you should go a little more loose on top.  This will depend on the shape of your body.  Everyone can wear leggings.  The trick is to look in the mirror to see where to draw attention and where to detract,  to create this balance.  The ideal objective, is to create an “hourglass” silhouette.  I’m not a fan of body type terminology, but it’s familiar to most, so using it as a reference.

  I’ll do a separate post on body types.

This is one area where I don’t really play it safe, or by “the rules”.  When styling leggings on myself, I will gravitate to a more oversized silhouette in my choices for styling my upper half. I already have an hourglass body type, so this is deliberate on my part.  Because leggings are obviously very fitted, to detract from my curvy shape being shown down below, I go oversized on top.

While this is not proportionally “balanced”, it’s my personal preference.  

Please read that again….it’s MY preference.  The reason I don’t harp on fashion rules, is because preferences are equally as important, if not more so.  If I don’t feel like me, when walking around with my waist emphasized, like the “rules” state, then that defeats the purpose of fashion.  It’s meant as a tool to be used, to feel like a better version of yourself.

For me, the “balance” here comes from covering up and being conservative on the top, while wearing something that is inherently sexy on the bottom, make sense?

For some of you, who may want to recreate the looks I’ve shown, but are concerned about  looking a bit top heavy, pay attention to your waistline.

Image via Pinterest

You may want to accentuate your waistline a bit with a well seamed (darted) button down, longer length shirt.  There are several options that have a self tie.  If you like less masculine tops, there are so many fun, flirty, feminine options available in stores.

Image via Pinterest

Another option is to add a belt to cinch in your waist. You can belt at your natural waist or a bit higher under your bust, if you carry extra weight in your midsection.  Adjust the belt height to suit your proportions. This belted tunic sweater is beautiful and would be a great addition to your wardrobe for fall!

So there you have it ladies! Hope you aren’t preparing to give me a tongue lashing! Although, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.   

Fashion should be fun, so don’t worry too much about what’s right and what’s wrong! Wear what makes YOU happy.

Got questions? Contact me, and I’ll answer!


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