Love 'em or hate 'em, leggings are here to stay (at least for another season) and, like sunglasses, sandals and sun dresses, they've managed to find their way into every girl's summer wardrobe. I personally love leggings. When done right, they can look hip, fashionable and effortless. Done wrong, they are the epitome of tacky, shabby and, at times, vulgar.
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Now that spring is here, and the promise of warmer days just a weather report away, leggings are out in full force, and maybe it's the influence of celebs like Lindsay Lohan (consider your role models, ladies!), but I can't help but notice all the seemingly sensible women stepping out of doors wearing leggings in lieu of pants. The number of sightings is truly disturbing and with leggings season just gearing up, we thought it our duty to remind wayward fashionistas how to wear them and, most importantly, how not to wear them.
Leggings are ...
Let's get one thing straight: leggings are footless tights, which, like fishnets, thigh-highs and Spanx, are another category of hosiery. Hosiery is an undergarment. Self-explanatory, no? Now having arrived at this critical juncture, I will concede to a few instances in which wearing tights as pants is acceptable, namely if you are a dancer, under the age of 12 or wearing a Halloween costume.
Leggings are not pants
Pants have a hard enough time competing with skirts and dresses in the summer months that it hardly seems fair that they're now being placed on the back burner for, well, nothing at all. Some suspect the leggings-as-pants craze is an extension of the skinny jeans trend, but I see it more as an extension of the yoga-pants-as-regular-pants trend that Lululemon unwittingly (or maybe wittingly?) unleashed a few years back. Leggings are the new yoga pants and, in my opinion, wearing them in lieu of actual pants is (like wearing workout clothes outside the gym) classic lazy dressing with a dash of indecency thrown in for good measure.
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This doesn't mean leggings should be worn only under a dress, skirt or tunic. It just means you must follow one simple rule: wear tops that go past the buttocks. Think tasteful mini-skirt as a cut-off. The point is to avoid the potential for overexposure. No one is interested in seeing your hip bones, VPL or, heaven forbid, camel toe and believe me, we can see it all. Try leggings paired with a long, flowy top (a la Lauren Conrad), an oversized button-down (Mary-Kate would approve) or long, punk-inspired t-shirt (think Agyness Deyn).
Image courtesy of Dotspotter.
Leggings are not cropped pants
Now that we know how to wear our leggings up top, let's speak briefly about the bottom. There's no getting around it, leggings that cut you off mid-calf are totally unflattering, not to mention horrendously tacky. Wear them high enough to show off your amazing shoes, but anything above mid-calf will make you look short and stumpy, and who wants that? Elongate your legs by elongating your leggings.
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Leggings are not jeans
Jeans have an incredible ability to look great when they've been distressed and have fraying holes and tears in them. Not really true of leggings. This may seem like common sense but you'd be surprised at how many women wear them until they're pilling like a Patagonia pullover and falling apart at the seams. If your leggings are sheer but weren't meant to be, it's time to shell out the $10 to $30 for a new pair. Especially if you're going to be wearing them as pants ... which you won't.
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