Fashion Forward…

My husband has been pretty driven lately to emphasize his disgust for the current fashion trend of wearing leggings with over-sized tops. His vocabulary for this look includes words like “lazy” and “tramp”. He points out legging-clad females walking the streets (no pun intended) of Chicago and generally makes a derogatory comment or two (under his breath…most of the time). I have been hard-pressed to defend the current trend although it is nowhere near new and, in some cases, more than appropriate. Let’s start with the history of the legging.

According to Wikipedia: “Leggings in various forms and under various names have been worn for warmth and protection by both men and women throughout the centuries.”

In more recent fashion history, Wikipedia adds: “Leggings in the form of skin-tight trousers, a tighter version of the capris ending at mid-calf or near ankle length, made its way into fashion in the 1960s and were worn with a large belt and slip-on high heels or ballet flat-styled shoes.”

A la Audrey Hepburn, anyone?

“By the early-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States. Very common to see leggings worn with long oversized t-shirts, oversized sweatshirts or oversized sweaters, slouch socks and Keds. “

And most recently:

“Shiny leggings—leggings that have a shiny, metallic (Lamé), or wet-like appearance—emerged as a popular fashion trend in the late-2000s, particularily in 2008…Shiny leggings were featured on fashion runways by many leading designers and were further popularized by celebrities such the Lauren Conrad, Olsen Twins, Rihanna, Lindsay Lohan and Frida Sanden. Popular makers of shiny leggings include Members Only, Kova & T and American Apparel.”

What many forgot to mention, however, is this look from the more classic perspective. Fashion trends will come and go, but there is always a way to make a look classic and enduring. Polo by Ralph Lauren, for example, has popularized the “equestrienne” look in fashion, including items suchs riding pants, blazers and riding boots. Riding pants look eerily similar to those skin-tight leggings, no? Especially with boots.

The Polo look is, to me, a more classic take on the trend than, say, Lauren Conrad in her shiny leggings and flowy top….

And my favorite look is something like this:
(Available at Neiman Marcus)

But here are the most important things to remember if you choose to sport the ever-changing leggings fashion:

1) If you’re going tight, NEVER go too tight. No one wants to see the outline of your undies or the dimpling of cellulite on your thighs (sorry ladies, sad but true).

2) Leggings can look great with a pair of boots–very fashionable this season, and especially practical for cold-weather regions–pumps, or even ballet flats…but steer clear of tennis shoes and socks unless you’re headed to the gym (or attending a 90s-inspired costume party).

3) Make your look polished. I do agree with my husband in that leggings can look very lazy and messy when an outfit is not properly put together. Especially if the crotch region is highlighted, rather than downplayed, by the outfit.

4) This look is not for everyone. Body type does (and should) have a lot to do with the sorts of clothing people choose to wear. Some skinny-minnies out there might look great in the (re)newly-fashionable harem pants, but I would not be caught dead in that look. Something about a pair of pants that shortens the leg and emphasizes the hip/thigh is SO far from my sense of flattering. If you’re not quite sure that leggings will work for you…you’re probably right.

5) I have to re-emphasize this point: don’t go too tight!

In closing, if you like the look and you can pull it off with style and class– go for it!

Otherwise, you might be walking down the street someday only to find yourself quietly criticized by a bearded red-head passing you by.

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One Comment

  1. Dana

    Read with interest – Thank you 🙂

    I've owned *one* pair of leggings that I can remember – black/white herringbone worn with an over-sized Christmas sweater, complete with shoulder pads. Otherwise I've never felt like the look flattered my shape or style.

    For teens, I like the leggings/footless tights under the short (mini) skirts.

    Bottom line (pun intended) – I dont think I'll be buying any – high fashion or not.

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