Embracing Leggings – Within Reason

The popularity of leggings skyrocketed way before Athleisure Wear was even a term! Their original use may be tracked back to Jane Fonda workouts, but most noticeably over the past decade as bus-stop-wear! The moms that just couldn’t take five extra minutes in the morning to pop on their mom jeans began showing up in stretchy black things that resembled half-pajama / half opaque hosiery. Now they are probably wrangling with their teenage daughters telling them that what they are wearing is too tight, too thin and too-not-a-pair-of pants! What goes around comes around gals!

So now that you are trying to practice what you preach, let’s share all the legging secrets that we ‘young’ adults have come to know. In a nutshell, just like every other category of clothing we own, we must invest the time and the money wisely. They must, as I always say, fit, flatter and function.

They must fit to flatter, not look painted on where they show every divot and dimple known to your butt and thighs. The public really is not interested in too much information about what lies beneath! They must flatter, did I not just cover that? Do you not own a full-length mirror? Do you not listen when I say you must look good when you LEAVE the room?? And lastly, they must function – this is a simple one – they must function as leggings, not hosiery!! Meaning if you think they are too thin – then you are damn right! Remember the old days when we wore slips so you couldn’t glimpse a gander on a sunny day – OMG – the things I have seen when a woman grabs something from the bottom shelf at the grocery store! Perhaps slips should come back in style to be worn OVER the leggings!! But I digress because we could end up like this recent Vogue runway outfit if we were to try to cover all the dimples! No words.

Here are some basic tips to shop by.

First, you have to be quite particular about the fabric, shape and size of your leggings! Don’t just shop by price! This is one category where cheaper is no doubt, not better!

When it comes to fabrics that flatter you want to look for quality, medium weight, with a combination of natural fibers and a bit of lycra or spandex. When it comes to the fabric, thicker is better and skin tight is not always right! Leggings have come a long way baby! The most popular fabric being the ponte knit with many now coming with welting, zippers and other styling details.

Look for high-waisted, perhaps an 8 or 10-inch rise from the crotch seam so that they cover your belly button (aka muffin top). You want to have a smooth midriff under your tunic tops or long sweaters. You want to make sure they are a quality fabric so they won’t pill or get baggy and make sure they are completely opaque. And remember, leggings are not pants! The only real estate that should be showing is about 8-10 inches above your knee where your tunic ends (tunic means your hips and butt are covered)! The asymmetrical tops work for most body types. Remember if the top is already long, you may benefit by trying it on in petite as well so it doesn’t overwhelm your frame. No charge to try!

How do we style these leggings so we don’t look like teenagers?

First pair them with fab flats, booties or riding boots as opposed to stilettos! Remember at our age the legging is only visible less than 50% of the bottom half.

Second, pair the leggings with fabulous tops or sweaters that steal the show. The leggings are just the foundation, like the wheels on a car. It’s what is on the upper body that counts!

Again, look for fabrics that flatter your curves, quality knits with a substantial hand like cashmere, lofty layered silks and jersey knits. The idea of the tunic is that it flows a bit off the hips (a bit I said) to add some fluidity to the outfit to balance off the fitted bottom half.

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