A controversial debate over leggings has been making its way through the online fashion community. While many seem to think that this new craze is an unacceptable excuse for pants, the experts and trendsetters seem to think otherwise. With fall and winter just around the corner, leggings are a key item to have in your wardrobe. My Image Expert CEO, Erika Chloe seems to think everyone needs a black pair of cotton or nylon lycra leggings; others (men in particular) seem to think not. The question still remains, are leggings actually pants? The following fashion tips will allow you to successfully incorporate leggings into your wardrobe. Whether you intentionally wear them as pants or choose to wear them as a fashionable accessory, one thing is certain; leggings will help expand your closets versatility.
In order for leggings to be accepted as pants, one must obey certain fabric guidelines and "fit" rules that make them appear intentional and stylish. These fit rules include:
- Thick Fabric: Make sure your leggings are not translucent. Opaque tights should not be confused with leggings. The fabric selected should be a heavy cotton lycra or nylon lycra. This will help to keep your legs warm in the fall and winter seasons and prevent skin from being seen through the fabric.
- Dark Color: Leggings should be a dark color like midnight navy, black, charcoal grey or dark brown. Darker colors will hide any skin imperfections and accent the silhouette of the legs. Darker colors help make the legs appear leaner and longer. Light colored leggings emphasize the full shape of the leg, making them appear thicker and fuller.
- Fit: The waistband in leggings is usually made out of elastic. Make sure that when you put them on, the tight elastic band around the waist doesn’t create a muffin top. Even on thinner women, the tight elastic band will create a crease in the skin around the top of the waistband. Try a body slimmer underneath the leggings to smooth out any lumpy skin and to avoid a muffin top waistline. This is never a flattering look and can easily be prevented by taking the extra step and applying a body slimmer to the torso area. Your outfit will thank you!
- Length: when putting on leggings, make sure they are the right size. Many people think that because they are made from stretchy material, the size doesn’t matter. This could not be any further from the truth. The size is based on the waistline, inseam and length. If the waist is too tight then read #3. If the inseam is too short, then the waistline will be too low and you will forced to continuously pull up your leggings. This will also result in the crotch area riding up, creating an unpleasant look in the inner thighs, butt and crotch. If the length is too short then this usually means you bought the wrong size. Avoid cropped leggings at all costs especially in the fall and winter.
- No folder-over waist: Leggings should not be considered yoga or pilates pants. Stretchy gym pants usually have a colored fold-over waist band and flared leg. This style should be solely for gym activities and not considered leggings. Keep in mind leggings should fit like footless tights but will be made from a different material.
To incorporate leggings into your “everyday” casual fall wardrobe try these styling tips:
- Flat walking boot – a flat walking boot has no heel and should come just below the knee. Invest in a color that will match your leggings, black will work best in most cases. If you wear a black legging with a black walking boot you have a lot of room to play with in regards to tops, sweaters and blouses. The boots will zip-up over top of the legging and create a clean long black line from the waist down to the floor.
- Sweaters – with fall and winter just around the corner, sweaters are a great item to pair with leggings and boots. When wearing a sweater, try a longer style that falls just below the hips and covers the butt. You can play around with necklines by trying V-necks with a collared shirt or a loose sweater dress with a stylish belt. Turtleneck and cal neck sweaters look great with long necklaces and belts as well.
- Blouses – try a silky blouse with a longer style cardigan. If you have printed blouses then wear a black buttoned cardigan over top to match you black leggings and boot. With solid colors, try a black blazer and then play around with some feminine accessories like scarves, necklaces and bracelets.
- Layers- nothing works better to avoid a jacket in the fall like layers. Layer several thin colored T-shirts on top one another and toss an over-sized cardigan on top. Complete this look with a fun colored scarf and staple black beret.
- Jackets – when wearing a longer style jacket with leggings, no-one really knows what you are wearing underneath. Try a neutral or colored trench coat or pea coat. These styles usually don’t need much outside of a stylish boot and legging.
Leggings as defined by Wikipedia are “form-fitting trousers of a clingy material, often knitted cotton and Lycra”. Adversely pantyhose and tights are generally c-through or opaque exposing skin through the material and are not to be confused with leggings. If you are going to wear leggings, make sure they are styled properly with the other components in your outfit.
Leggings can create many solutions to wardrobe dilemmas. They can be used to extend the life of certain summer garments like silk tops and cotton lycra dresses. You can easily transform a summer or spring outfit into a wearable fall fashion item by adding leggings and boots. Just make sure the fabric is appropriate. Linen and Chiffon are examples of inappropriate fabrics that are solely for spring and summer. To read more about this controversial trend, please read our press clip from The Examiner.