Whether you love or loathe leggings, you’ve got to admit they’re the second best thing to wearing no pants ever. Despite being able to find leggings literally everywhere, for many of us they still maintain mythical unicorn status. Try finding a pair that’s not see-through when you bend over, or doesn’t pop a hole the second your thighs rub together, or that can keep you warm when it’s under 65 degrees outside. Even for those in the #Leggings4Life category struggle to find a way to wear the louder prints or style them without looking like you stepped out off the PSL Runway. There’s also those of us who stand strongly behind the theory that it’s your body and you wear whatever the hell you want that makes you feel good, but are still hung up on some body image issues that make us wonder how comfortable showcasing our butts, muffin tops, or thighs.
That’s why we’ve decided to create the ultimate guide to leggings: where to find the best of the best, how to style them, and even ways to feel more comfortable turning your pro-body image mantra into real life .
THE BEST LEGGING BRANDS
These are the softest, most comfortable and not-super clingy leggings you’ll ever find. Made for girls with curves, they work with you instead of against you, so there’s no muffin top and a nice wide-band that doesn’t roll up or down. They’re entirely opaque, so there’s no concern over bright undies shining through, and the material doesn’t look cheap or too informal, so you don’t look like you’re in your PJs.
They also make petite sizes, which saves short ladies the trouble of dealing with awkward, bunchy cuffs around the ankles.
These are both bargain workout leggings that are passable for day wear too. They almost never are full price since Old Navy has sales every other day (The most I’ve paid for a pair is $17). The patterned-waist leggings work great at the gym or paired with a long tunic for a night out or daytime wear. Neither are see through, but the compression ones are best suited for working out since they’re shinier. (Unless you’re totally cool with the spandex look, then by all means rock them running errands too—your butt will be fully covered and secure). They also have a higher-waist option that holds everything in as well for curvier ladies. With exceptional comfort and an affordable price, Old Navy leggings are hard to beat.
These leggings, while on the expensive side, are the best investment pair you’ll find. And although they’re from Under Armour, they don’t look sporty and can easily be worn dressed up or down. The UA Studio Legging has a high waistband (yay smooth curves), a tight fit (that guarantees these guys won’t be slipping around as you move), a matte-finish material (so soft and so not shiny), and sleek seam lines (super flattering). Bonus for you tall ladies: these are the perfect length! If you’re often uncomfortable with how your legs or butt look in fitted pants/leggings, give these a try. They’re magic.
HOW TO WEAR PRINT LEGGINGS IN REAL LIFE
If like us, you’ve seen print leggings but have had zero idea of how to realistically incorporate them into your wardrobe, check out some of these fantastic pairings and get inspired!
Geometric Print Leggings & Leather Jacket (Polyvore)
Lucas Hugh Leadlight Print Leggings (Polyvore)
Boots, Cardigan, Leggings
Can I Have These Leggings?
STYLING LEGGINGS AROUND YOUR AWKWARD AREAS
Shirt Length is Key
If you also have a heavier bottom half, wearing leggings with a shirt that doesn’t at least cover 75% of your butt feels horribly unflattering. This shirt sits on the hips in the front, but is longer in the back so, with leggings, it was a perfect cut to flatter the body. It just takes a bit of playing around with your wardrobe to find the shirts and blouses that sit perfectly with the leggings on your frame!
Pick the Right Shoe
If you’re worried about short stumpy legs, the shoes you choose can either highlight or hide those calves. While the ankle boot may be all the rage right now, it truncates your legs pretty severely and showcases the parts you might be the most concerned about. A riding or knee-length boot would do the opposite by helping extend your legs and the leggings will fit under them with ease. High heels also add some inches to make your legs longer and turn the leggings into a sexier and dressier version. Though if comfort is your game, you can’t go wrong with small, non-clunky ballet flat. They’re delicate, show some skin, and don’t chop your legs off quite as much.
Create a Monochromatic Silhouette
Black leggings and a longer blank tank creates seamless lines, no matter what you’re trying to hide. Add a cardigan, jean jacket, poncho, or open button down and you’ve got an effortless, easy look, with a darker underlay that turns your sensitive areas into a blank canvas.
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH LEGGINGS IN THE OFFICE
I love, love my leggings and want to wear them all the time. But I work part-time teaching, and wearing leggings while teaching teenage boys while in your 20s isn’t the brightest idea (thanks patriarchy). Even if you aren’t surrounded by hormonal teens, wearing leggings at work can be tricky. But you can still do it! When I wear my leggings to work, I go with muted, neutral tones: black and grey usually, but I wouldn’t say no to a dull or dark brown. This way, there will won’t be any bright color or pattern screaming for attention. As mentioned above, shirt-or top-length is key. I pair my work leggings with flowy and loose dress tunics or sweater dresses. I make sure my butt is covered, and it’s best when the tunic has a pattern, so that the focus of the outfit is on your loose tunic, and not your snug leggings. When it’s matched with fancy shoes (try to stay away from heels though-think flats) and maybe some bracelets or hairpieces, the complete outfit is stylish, comfy, and work appropriate.
Pay Attention to Texture
Those super-shiny American Apparel disco pants might look fabulous on a night out, but they’re not for work. Nor are the super-soft cotton ones you throw in your cart every time you go to Target. Finding a pair made of a more respectable material—somewhere between ultra-slick and ultra-soft, and preferably a simple black—can be a low-maintenance daily go-to.
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