Linda has written content for national fashion and beauty websites. She enjoys sharing style trends and tips with her readers.
What are Leggings?
Technically, leggings are tights that typically stop above the foot or include a stirrup. They hug the hips, buttocks and legs and are marketed either as undergarments for warmth, figure control, active wear or as stylish outerwear. For the sake of this article we will concentrate on leggings designed for the entire world to see.
Leggings are one of those fashion accessories that evoke strong feelings. You either love or hate them. Whatever your opinion, it appears the legging trend will be around for a while so you might want to learn how to incorporate them into your wardrobe. Versatile leggings can be worn year round and make the transition from casual weekend wear to a night on the town with ease. They're available everywhere and inexpensive which makes them an essential wardrobe component.
That being said, there is definitely a right and wrong way to wear them. This article will help you avoid the pitfalls and assist in finding the appropriate look for your personal style and body type.
The list of legging fabrics is limitless. You can find leggings made from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, bamboo and wool. However, most leggings contain synthetic fibers for shape retention. Look for labels that include a blend of spandex with polyester or nylon to keep your leggings looking like new after repeated washings.
The latest in funky fabric choices include feminine laces, comfy corduroys, faux leathers to appease your inner wild child and jeggings that simulate skin tight blue jeans without the obvious discomfort.
Three Main Types of Leggings
Ankle-length leggings are the most widely available and most popular type. The added length works well during the cooler weather months providing extra warmth. They're are perfect for a workout, weekend shopping excursion or lounging around the house. Wearing these stretchy, forgiving bottoms improve circulation and are far more comfortable than ultra skinny pants.
Mid-calf leggings create a kicky, casual feel for warmer weather. Women with average or long legs are easier to perfect this look. Capri length tends to visually “cut” your leg length. If you're petite, stay with longer tops that gives you the illusion of a longer leg. Capri leggings always look fantastic under a longer t-shirt, flowing tunic or a short dress.
Not a personal favorite of women who are of a certain age as they remind them of that dreadful 1980’s style. Nonetheless, they provide a great alternative to ankle leggings and full tights. The younger generation think they're a brand new trend and are wearing them differently--outside of the shoe to show off the stirrup.
The good news is they are pretty darned versatile. Pair them with sneakers and a varsity jacket for a casual athletic look. Throw a big shirt on over them, a long jacket and add kitten heels for the office. They can easily go from the health club, to work or to the mean streets. Stirrups are a favorite legging style--for at least a while.
Legging Guide for Body Types
No matter your figure type, leggings can be worn tastefully by following these important tips.
If you're a petite one, it's better to opt for ankle-length leggings. Avoid scrunch leg varieties–-the look is too sloppy on a shorter leg. Pair your leggings with high heel or wedge ankle boots in the same color as your leggings to create a long leg. Top them with a long tunic or mini dress and jacket for a casual day of shopping or a weekend getaway.
Full figure gals can also take advantage of the legging fashion trend. Most designers feature plus size leggings making them a necessity for your wardrobe. You'll look fabulous in leggings layered under a long sweater. A sleek knee-high boot will take this look from fall well into winter. This type of outfit goes from office to after work effortlessly. Keep in mind that black leggings are your best friend--they make you look taller and elongate the legs.
Just because you're smaller on the top and rounder on the bottom doesn't mean you should stay away from this fashion trend. Wearing proper pieces will draw the eye upward taking the emphasis away from the hip area. Pear-shape bodies look great with ankle leggings and a top or tunic to minimize your hips. Try a fringed jacket teamed with a flowing scarf. In the spring or fall pair them with strappy gladiator sandals.
Tall and Slender
Tall and lean figures are well-suited for leggings. Make the most of your model-like figure with outfits that highlight your assets. Showcase those long, slender legs by pairing your leggings with an oversized chambray shirt and comfy cardigan. Knee-high riding boots complete this cold weather package. During the summer try a denim miniskirt worn over mid calf leggings. Top them with a brightly colored tee and a pair of flats--either ballets or sandals.
Celebrate your perfect proportions with leggings. Hourglass shapes feature a tiny waist and an upper and lower body with nearly identical measurements. Curvy types can team a cinch waist mini dress with coordinating capri leggings and a pair of cute skimmers. For cooler weather, try a belted tunic over a sleek turtleneck, a pair of dark leggings and a chunky shoe.
Ensure a Proper Fit
When shopping for leggings follow these rules for a proper fit. The legs, hips, rear and crotch should fit snugly but comfortably. Think of the fit as slightly more loose than a pair of tights or panty hose. If you choose scrunched leggings, the excess fabric should be limited to the ankle area. And please remember, leggings are never a suitable substitute for pants under any circumstances. We know you want to show off your amazing bod but resist the urge for fashion’s sake!
Still Need Some Help?
Leggings: Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?
© 2010 Linda Chechar
Start a Conversation!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on July 30, 2017:
Hippie Untiet, glad you found leggings that are comfortable and durable. ;)
Hippie Untiet from Wisconsin on July 29, 2017:
I wear them to. I wore them one time just to see what they are like. Because my jeans kept ripping out in the butt. Found out that these ones made for work out are tough as nails. I wear these now instead of jeans for work now. Oh by the way I'm a man that now likes to wear leggings.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 07, 2015:
Exactly, Matty Fernandez! Leggings are not meant to be worn as pants--I see this all the time and it drives me crazy! I could go on a major rant, but I'll save that for another day. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it! :)
Matty Navarro from Pennsylvania on February 07, 2015:
I love leggings I think the problem is people don't know how to properly wear them. Leggings are not pants, they are meant to be worn with a short dress or skirt that cover-up your private areas. I have seen some crazy madness with leggings being worn the wrong way.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 01, 2014:
Yes, Street-Wear-Buff, I've purchased "cheap" leggings in the past and the old saying applies--you get what you pay for! So it does make sense to purchase the best quality you can afford. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)
Street-Wear-Buff on November 30, 2014:
Good Article. I've found the more expensive the leggings, the better quality they are (one would hope!)
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 09, 2014:
natural holistic, I live in Las Vegas, so leggings in the summer are not part of my wardrobe either. It does get chilly in the winter, so they are nice for layering. In the spring, I can wear them under shorter dresses or long tunics. Thank you so much for checking out this Hub and commenting! :)
D. Lemaire from Arizona on February 09, 2014:
I love leggings. Right now in Arizona I rarely ever wear them anymore. But in my home country of Belgium where winters can be quite cold I used to wear them a lot during winter so I wouldn't have to wear pants all the time. Combined with a nice dress or skirt and stylish winter boot they definitely kept my legs warm :).
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 29, 2013:
Old Guy, nothing wrong with appreciating your wife's "assets", so to speak! I suppose if you asked most men, they would agree that leggings are great. I just think there are right and wrong ways to wear them, that's all. :)
Old Guy on December 29, 2013:
From a male point of view, I love leggings. My wife looks amazing in leggings. I wish I could find some that really define her terrific behind because she just looks great in jeans. Leggings are icing on my little wife's cake. (Sorry, I like my wife's butt.)
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 26, 2012:
Lorna, obviously, dry cleaning would be the best way to go. If it were me, I would either hand wash or use the delicate cycle with a cold water detergent like Woolite. If you do put them in the dryer, do so only for a few minutes on a low setting, then dry them flat as you would a sweater. There's no guarantee they won't eventually pill, but you'll at least save lots of money on dry cleaning bills! Good luck!
Lorna on November 25, 2012:
Do I really have to dryclean my new Jones of New York jeggings? They are 59% rayon, 27% nylon and 4% spandex? Help - I don't want the extra cost of drycleaning, surely the delicate cycle and a little dryer will do? Please advise.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on August 25, 2012:
Thanks for reading and commenting, Noy. Glad you at least liked the tips. ;)
Noy on August 25, 2012:
You say too much "uhm" ... uhm, it's a bit annoying. Uhm, great tips though. Uhm...
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on May 28, 2012:
You have impeccable taste, mon amie! You follow all the rules that make them a great wardrobe asset.
Ha! You caught me, Jenny! Yes, I'm afraid I did fall prey to the jeggings craze. I've since come to my senses and the offending pair of jeggings have been relegated to the back of the closet. They never actually see the light of day. I wear them under blue jeans to keep my legs warm during the winter! ;)
jennyinfrance on May 28, 2012:
I have a love affair with leggings, but you are so very right to emphasise that they must be worn with care. I always think they look best combined with an A-line sweater/short dress/tunic. Some width on top counterbalances the narrowness (is that a word??) of the leggings. I especially love black ones worn over a long camel A-line cashmere cable-knit, and tucked inside some stretchy knee-high black suede boots (preferably with heels). Sexy, and they elongate even my rather stumpy legs!!
PS. Hey, lindacee! I've just noticed your comment above. I see that fifteen months ago, you thought jeggings were great, huh?? Well, I suppose that IS a long time in fashion terms, and a girl has a right to change her mind! :-)
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on February 17, 2011:
TINA V, thanks for the "up" vote and positive comment! I think jeggings are great also! Have my one black pair, but need to get a pair of blue ones as well. Yes, wearing the proper length top is a must. It's time to turn out the fashion police on these women!
TINA V on February 17, 2011:
This hub is really useful. I like leggings, but I prefer to use jeggings. I’ve seen a lot of women who wear leggings with their top too short that makes them look awful. The video is great! It gives us the right tips on how to wear it properly. I'll bookmark this hub. Thumbs up!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on January 15, 2011:
Sonji, I appreciate your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the hub and the quote! Yes, jeggings are fab and I hope the trend stays around for more than a few seasons--I tend to think it will. Again, thanks and enjoy the weekend!
Eclectic Mix from UK on January 15, 2011:
"We know you want to show off your amazing booty, but resist the urge, for fashion’s sake!"
Seriously, that quote is too funny, but I totally agree, what is that look about?!!!
Love this article, I've worn leggings at key re-invention points, particularly in the 90's when the thick shiny opaque look first came out. But I've never really connected with the look until they brought out jeggings, more recently.
If your denim skinny jean freak like me,then jeggings are a Godsend! Well done on your styling tips, you've obviously put a lot of thought into it.
All the best, Sonji
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 03, 2010:
Dolores, yes, I too fell victim to the leg warmer trend in the 80s. I guess we all succumbed to the "Flashdance" look -- cutout sweatshirts and all! Scary thing is that leg warmers are back. I can't imagine this fashion blunder will take hold again (at least I hope not!)
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 02, 2010:
Can't complain about leggings. They look cute and are great when it's cold outside. I remember back in the 80's when they wore those leg warmers - boy were they dumb. (Yes, I wore them)
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on December 01, 2010:
WindyCityFashion, I couldn't agree more! I think they will be around for a few more seasons, don't you? I would be lost without them!
WindyCityFashion on December 01, 2010:
I am a total slave to leggings! They work with just about anything and are great for layering under pants in the winter. Hopefully they will stay in style for a while!
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 22, 2010:
Thanks viryabo! I have a collection of leggings and tights--mostly in darker colors, although I do have one bright pink pair (what was I thinking?!?) Anyway, I too think they are a great wardrobe addition and they make our legs look totally fabulous! Glad you enjoyed!
viryabo from Lagos, Nigeria. on November 22, 2010:
I've always loved leggings and tights, and my latest passion are jeggings.
As you rightly said, they look beautiful on, without the discomfort of regular jeans.
I have pairs of leggings and tights in black, navy blue and brown, as i can match those colours easily. I hate the patterened ones though. Too busy.
I need to get a couple of coloured jeggings for Xmas.
To sum it up, i love figure hugging apparel, and clothing that accentuates my legs..
Enjoyed this hub Lindacee.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on November 22, 2010:
Nekomeme, granted, leggings are not for everyone! The wrong type of leggings can definitely shorten your legs. Tights are a great alternative for those who don't like the leggings look! Thanks for your input!
Nekomeme from Iowa on November 21, 2010:
I'm afraid I will never like leggings. They are like a less cute version of tights. Leggings cut off your legs and make you appear shorter and thicken your ankles.
Tights lengthen and make you appear smaller and your curves more pleasing.
I will always be a tights fan. :)