Long the uniform of teenagers and athletes, leggings have experienced a bit of a rebirth in recent years. Although it once seemed impossible; today you can wear leggings to work, weekend parties and fine restaurants. Because leggings are so versatile; they’re perfect for pairing with a wide variety of styles.The most important component of dressing up a pair of leggings is the leggings themselves. Spend the extra money on high-quality, ultra-opaque leggings and you’ll see a noticeable difference in the appearance of your outfits.
The color of your leggings is the difference between a polished woman and a wacky teenager. You can still play with color, but choose classic black, navy blue, dark brown or plum colored leggings. Dark colored leggings are flattering. Bright or light leggings are firmly reserved for young people. They’re unsuitable for most dressy occasions.
Boots are the ideal shoes to dress up a pair of leggings. Choose knee-high boots in a color similar to your leggings for a streamlined, polished look. Leggings hug your calves, suitable for slipping on a pair of chic riding boots. Ankle boots are another matching pair for leggings. The sliver of skin revealed between your boots and leggings has an instantly slimming effect; since it shows off the thinnest part of your leg. A heeled ankle boot creates the illusion of long, slender legs. With ankle boots, make sure your leggings stop exactly at your ankle; the wrong length will make you look sloppy.
Leggings allow you to have a bit of fun when it comes to skirts. Skirts that are traditionally too short for the average woman are suddenly appropriate– and fashionable– when paired with leggings. If miniskirts aren’t your thing, you can still pair leggings with more conservative skirts. Try a fitted pencil skirt with a pair of knee length leggings. Or, go for a flouncy, full skirt with a pair of ankle-length leggings. Wear heels with longer skirts and leggings to avoid getting lost in your layers.
Dresses and Tunics
Tunics were made to be worn with leggings. Plain dresses can benefit from the addition of a stylish pair. Opt for slim-fitting styles that are long enough to cover your hips and the widest part of your thighs. Stay away from dresses that hit any lower than the knee; the long layers will make you look unkempt. Add a light scarf to the outfit for a splash of color and you’ll look instantly chic.
A well-placed belt can add much-needed structure to an otherwise shapeless outfit. It can even add a fashionable embellishment, turning that plain leggings-and-tunic combo into a chic, complete outfit. Belt dresses, tunics and skirts worn with leggings for an eye-catching detail. Position an over-sized belt around your waist to create a flattering, forgiving silhouette. A belted waist will also create the appearance of longer legs, a necessity when it comes to form-fitting leggings.
Use printed leggings to spice up an outfit, but don’t go overboard. Brightly colored, wild prints are more suitable for casual situations and the younger crowd. Instead, think subtle patterns and textures. A simple, muted pattern can go a long way when it comes to leg wear. As long as you keep the colors subdued and avoid horizontal stripes, you can easily pull off most printed leggings. Geometric and lacy patterns in dark colors are best for this look. Soft, eye-catching materials like velvet and sweater knit add an interesting textural element to outfits, especially during the winter.
While leggings are frowned upon in more serious work environments, you can still pull off the look in the most offices, provided that the rest of your outfit is neat and polished. Start with a crisp blouse that’s long enough to cover your bottom or a fitted shirt dress. Add a cropped or boyfriend blazer for a look that’s both chic and professional. You can pair a cardigan with a blouse, as well, just make sure its long enough to balance the outfit and fitted enough to pull everything together.
References and ResourcesStyle Bakery; Dresses or Tunics to Wear with Black Leggings; Jennifer Davidson; December 2008
Today; Get a Leg Up on This 80's Fashion Comeback; Charla Krupp; May 2006
The Grindstone; Make It Work for Work: Leggings; Meredith Lepore; May 2011
"The Wall Street Journal"; Making Leggings Dressy and Flattering; Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan; October 2010