How to look good in leggings

03/04/2013 12:02 AM

03/04/2013 12:03 AM

Because I have seen some awful things at malls, restaurants and even in my own mirror, it’s time to issue this reminder:

Leggings are not pants. That means they should never be worn as pants.

I don’t care if you’re thin and toned and men tell you that you look great.

I don’t care if you’re dressing for comfort because you’ll be spending the afternoon shopping at the grocery store.

I don’t care if your legging-loving 5-year-old daughter wants you to wear them so the two of you can be twinsies.

Leggings have a tendency to be quite revealing — or as Tim Gunn, fashion guru, once told me, “horrifying” and “vulgar.”

Most people don’t want to see your every crack and crevice, bump and bulge, wiggle and jiggle.

And do you really want them to see all that anyway?

“You see these … girls in their little Lululemons with little kind of flowy crop tops. Once you start getting out of your teens, you just kind of look a little silly,” said Angela Wisniewski, a Ferndale, Mich., stylist.

Said Rachel Lutz, owner of the Peacock Room, a women’s clothing store in Detroit: “There’s certainly no excuse for grown women to do it.

“Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding. Maybe they … think it’s a cute trend.” But, added Lutz, who sells a small selection of leggings in her store: “It’s not a trend. It’s a faux pas.”

The good thing about leggings is that when they’re not worn as pants, they can accommodate a variety of body types and look appropriate on women all across the age spectrum.

Here’s how to look good in leggings:

•  Realize that just as leggings aren’t pants, tights aren’t leggings. So don’t even be tempted.
•  Realize the legging-style bottoms you wear for exercise are most likely not appropriate for work.
•  Never wear leggings that are the same color as your skin; you will look naked.
•  You, me and everyone we know is best off with black leggings because they’re classic. In many cases, they will slim your silhouette by elongating your leg. If you’re bold, try red leggings, paired with knee-high black boots and a black top that covers your backside. The combo could be quite striking — in a good way.
•  Make sure your leggings aren’t so tight or so sheer that dimpled thighs or knees show through. At the same time, make sure they aren’t so loose that they bag at the knees or anywhere else.
•  Wear an oversized top to balance the ultra-skinniness of your leggings — and to hide any belly flab you might have.
•  Make sure your top not only covers your backside, but also comes to at least mid-thigh. Otherwise your leggings will be too revealing. Here’s an easy way to determine whether your top is long enough: Stand up and keep your arms at your side. If your top is as long as your fingertips, you’re in good shape. If it’s not that long, take it off and try something else. Also: Beware of sweaters with asymmetrical or handkerchief hems. I was wearing one with a pair of leggings. I thought I was well-covered — until I realized the right side of my sweater was considerably shorter than the left, revealing a lot more thigh than I wanted.
•  Leggings look best with knee-high boots.
•  Shoes can interrupt the long line of your leg and make you look stumpy. And pumps with leggings, well, those have a tendency to look a little sleazy.

Worn properly, leggings are a cozy, comfortable fashion staple that can be worn in any casual setting and, depending on how you accessorize, take you from day to evening.

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