How To Rock Leggings No Matter How Freezing It Is Outside

January. That beautiful time of year when it feels like you’re being punished for last year’s sins by some ice queen elf princess. If you live somewhere as cold as me (*cough, cough* looking at you, Chicago), your wardrobe will have to step up to the challenge winter’s temperatures bring. The number one area in need of special attention? Legs.

Oh, if only there were a way to make a coat for legs. A girl’s top half can be nice and warm under a puffy portable comforter of a coat, but alas, modern technology has not caught up and created such an invention for our lower halves. Unlike in third grade, we can no longer shlep on snowpants, waddle around like a starfish and call it a day. What it comes down to, most days, is that you’ll simply have to wear leggings and make it work. I mean, what else are you going to do, give up dresses until spring? NEVER.

Thankfully, there’s a few ways to make your leggings cut it during this, the harshest of seasons:

1)   Buy Smarter

The number one reason your leggings are leaving your legs numb from the cold? You’re buying the wrong ones. My number one rule when I look for a new pair: If the inside material matches the material on the outside, it’s not gonna cut it. Look for leggings that look cute on the outside, but look fuzzy, warm and completely different inside. If the materials match, chances are these leggings are gonna be too thin.

Next, remember softness does not equal warmth. For years I bought on texture alone before figuring this out. Softness is a great, important feature, but never let it distract you from the thickness of the legs.

Finally, and unfortunately, remember that leggings are something worth spending more money on. It’s tempting to get the $5 pair from Target or 2 for $20 type from Urban Outfitters, but ultimately, these cheapo pairs tend to rip after a few wears, have the crotches sag out, or they don’t survive the laundry machine. It’s worth it to kick in a few extra bucks to save yourself another trip to pick up more leggings down the road.

Need some suggestions for what tights to invest in? Here’s a few pairs I’ve been relying on this season:

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  •  These faux-leather jeggings from Target have saved my life. Thanks to having REAL POCKETS in the back and a fake fly in the front, they can double as actual pants (because who has time for skinny jeans made of not fully-stretchable material?) or be the warm comfort under a dress. Of course, pleather is a bit sassy for some shoppers/occasions, so in that case, be sure to check out…

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  • American Apparel’s Winter Leggings, a thicker, warmer, better constructed pair of the basic black (or whatever color) leggings you need. Also important: the high-waisted-ness of these make sure you don’t spend the day trying to discreetly pull up your leggings from sliding down and exposing your hiney (we’ve all been there, girl). But hey, maybe plain colors aren’t what you’re going for, you need something to make a statement, and in that case, may I suggest…

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  • Puma’s badass tropical print leggings which, to be honest, I do not own but am lusting over, because how cool would these look paired with a loose black t-shirt? Plus, that tropical print just there reminding you of warmer days…

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  • Also, the broadest, best advice for tights: Look for “fleece-lined” on the label. Fleece lined leggings are a modern miracle. I’m a big fan of the space-dye look as well, and highly HIGHLY recommend you find a cozy pair of space-dyed fleece-lined leggings.

2)   Double Down

Okay, ladies, let’s talk -2° days. No matter how great of leggings you got, if you gotta be outside for more than 10 minutes or so, it’s wise to layer a couple pairs together for optimal breeze-blocking protection. If you got a favorite comfy but well-worn pair of leggings, these are perfect to keep around for these days. Slip on a broken pair under your shiny, good looking outer pair and no one will know that there’s actually a hole in the crotch of those leggings you’ve had since high school!

3)   Accessorize

What you wear with your leggings makes a huge difference. Let’s talk socks. You’re wearing warm, wool socks right? Ones that come up high, possible even up to your knees? Hiding these under your leggings is going to greatly increase warmth. And shoes. Can everyone everywhere just get a free pair of Hunter Boots to wear all winter long? Until then, make sure you have WARM, WATERPROOF footwear on, because there’s no way you’re lower half can keep warm if you’re feet are cold.

GOOD LUCK, MY DARLINGS. Winter is terrible and cold and dreary, but at least it’ll be over soon and we’ll be able to take our crop tops out of storage once again. Until then, invest in warm fleece-y leggings and keep those dresses in the front of your closet where they belong.

Kati Heng

Kati Heng

Living in Chicago, Kati consists almost entirely on a diet of pizza, glitter, Ben & Jerry’s and a steady stream of female-powered punk music. At 24 years old, Kati would rather spend her Fridays at home working on her night cheese than out, unless “out” includes going to a bar with free video games and a karaoke machine that allows her to sing David Bowie songs. She is on an everlasting journey to find a perfect black lip stain, something she heard about once in a dream. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, both @katiheng
Kati Heng
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