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Have you ever wondered where to begin when styling spandex leggings? They are comfortable, versatile, and every woman should own a pair. While many assimilate them to loungewear and the perfect companion for a night in, leggings can actually be incorporated into your wardrobe and be worn out in the everyday and even at events. The trick is to style them correctly. Here, a guide on how to wear spandex leggings, including styling tips, ideas, dos, and don’ts.

Origins of Legging Fashion & Where Did They Come From? 

Leggings are one of the come-back trends of the year. Following the classic, never-ending cycle that is fashion, leggings have come back again and again. Their origin dates back to the 14th century when they were introduced for menswear. However, the spandex modern-day interpretation of them became popular in the 1960s, when lycra was invented. By the 1970s they were all the rage, worn by the likes of fashion icons Olivia Newton John, Jane Birkin, and Debbie Harry. Madonna kept the trend going throughout the 1980s. 

Types of Legging Styles 

To begin wearing leggings, you should study the different types of leggings styles to see which one resonates the most with you, your wardrobe, and your body type. This will make the process of styling your leggings on the everyday much easier. Full-length leggings reach your ankles, while knee-length leggings are sportier and more casual. Compression leggings shape up your body and high-waisted leggings cover your tummy creating a form-fitting look. We recommend trying on different styles and choosing whichever feels most comfortable. 

What Tops to Wear with Leggings? 

Leggings are versatile and you can wear an endless array of tops with them. For the best results we recommend: button-down blouses, oversized sweatshirts, dressy sleeveless tops, cotton tees and tank tops, elegant and cute cardigans, crop tops, sports bras, classic V-neck tee shirts, and tops with oversized shoulders or ballooning sleeves. The kinds of tops you should incorporate with leggings greatly varies depending on the occasion, time of day, and season of the year. Your age group should also be considered when making these style choices. 

Also check out: 16 Black Tank Top Outfits to Try RN

What Shoes to Wear with Leggings? 

Shoes can be tricky to pair with leggings. We recommend the following options: classic lace-up sneakers that match the sporty aesthetic, slip-on sneakers for the same sporty vibe but with a more polished finish, flat loafers that will create a very comfortable look yet serious enough for certain occasions, sporty PCV slides to create a cool and effortless look, over the knee leather boots for cold weather, high heeled ankle boots, minimal ballet flats, slip-on sandals for a chic finish, and close-toed stilettos.  

Can Leggings be Considered Business Casual? 

Business casual wear can be tricky to understand. The good news is that leggings can be incorporated into a business casual wardrobe. Style them right and you will be both comfortable and professionally dressed. Cross the line, and you will not be within the business casual spectrum. Choose leggings that are neutral and solid colors. Stick to black, navy, or camel shades. Wear a blouse that is slightly long so it covers your backside, and drape a blazer or cardigan on top. Accessorize with ballet flats or loafers. 

Can You Wear Leggings to Work? 

Depending on the line of work you are in, leggings can be acceptable or not. If you work in an office environment, you can get away with wearing a pair. However, the same rules as within business casual apply. Ensure your leggings are clean, have no holes or openings in them, and are in good condition. Black is the safest option, and make sure the leggings are not see-through. Many sporty versions are made with lighter fabrics that are slightly transparent, making them an inappropriate choice for work. 

Can You Wear Leggings to a Wedding? 

Weddings have dress codes, and always before planning what you are going to wear, make sure you correctly understand it. Call and ask to ensure beforehand to avoid any embarrassments or mishaps on the day. Weddings tend to be very elegant occasions; however, this can greatly vary. The only wedding, we would recommend considering leggings would be an informal gathering at the beach. You could get away with wearing an elegant, long hemmed top and solid-colored leggings paired with low heeled sandals. Avoid printed leggings. 

How to Wear Dresses with Leggings? 

An initial reaction to wearing leggings under dresses would be a no! However, some women like to for weather related reasons or personal taste. If you are going to be incorporating this trend into your wardrobe, make sure to wear a dress short enough so that the leggings are visible. An easy style idea would be to choose a turtle neck, long sleeved knit sweater dress in black. Pair with black leggings and accessorize with high-heeled ankle boots to create a fashionable and chic effect; a fall-winter street style idea. 

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How to Style Short Dresses with Leggings? 

Short dresses can be styled with leggings. Avoid doing this in the spring or summer, seeing as the weather will be of no help; better to go bare leg. For an easy style idea that is casual and sweet, choose a pair of leggings that end above your ankles. Make sure they are in a light fabric that is not too stuffy. Slip on a short tee shirt dress above them, and accessorize with either sandals or trendy sneakers like a pair of Converse. Avoid loud prints. 

How to Style Long Dresses with Leggings? 

In the case of long dresses and leggings, similar rules apply. However, you can opt for a thicker version of leggings especially in the case of the fall or winter seasons. A classy winter style idea is to choose a long dress that is also slightly form fitting. Layer a pair of thermal leggings beneath for extra heat, and slip on a pair of above the knee leather boots. This look is posh and slightly preppy. You can consider playing around with colors and prints if you wish.

Also check out: How to Dress Long Dresses in the Fall – Outfit Ideas & Styling Tips (Women’s Edition)

How to Wear a Skirt and Leggings? 

As previously mentioned, aesthetically speaking, leggings under dresses and skirts are not the best styling tip. There is one very cool way to incorporate leggings underneath a skirt; wearing a see-through, or sheer material skirt. Sheer skirts are great but there is always the thought of how you can wear them without showing your underwear. Opt for either a pair of light colored or printed leggings and on top place the sheer skirt of your choice. Incorporating pastels is a popular way to create this statement look. 

Also check out: How to Dress a Sweater and Skirt Outfit This Fall – Outfit Ideas & Styling Tips

How to Wear Fashion Leggings? 

There is a big difference between casualwear leggings and fashion leggings. Fashion leggings are meant to be worn in more street style inspired looks, including more elegant occasions, and more put together outfits. Casualwear leggings are meant for casual strolls in the park, companions on flights, or trips to the gym. The most fashionable leggings of the moment include ribbed leggings, stirrup leggings, shiny patent leggings, and faux leather leggings. Classic black leggings are fashionable too, and are the recommended pair to begin with. Other variations are less timeless. 

How to Wear Black Leggings?

There is no wrong way to wear black leggings, seeing as they are the most versatile kind and can range from all styles, all age groups, and all situations. Anyone can afford them, most clothing stores sell a pair, and every brand has done their version of the classic black legging. This is a staple piece that will never go out of style. Use them in the Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. A young child can wear them, and so can a woman in her late 50s. 

Legging Styles for Older Women? 

While leggings can be worn by women of any and all age groups, there are certain styles that will look better on older women. We recommend the following suggestions: look for high waisted leggings that will help create a slimmer silhouette at the hip area, leggings that end above the ankles are chic and seem more serious than longer variations, avoid youthful prints and stick to a neutral color palette, avoid shiny fabrics, when in doubt—choose comfort, lightweight materials, a classic shape, and spandex fabric. 

Also check out: How to Look Elegant in Summer Dresses in Your 30s, 40s, or 50s (+ 6 Shoe Tips!)

How to Accessories with Leggings? 

Depending on the style aesthetic you are going for, the way you accessorize your leggings says it all. Leggings are like a blank canvas that you build an outfit upon. Consider statements pieces such as chunky sneakers, bomber jackets, light wash denim jackets, cropped hoodies, black leather jacket, oversized tee shirt, tweed blazer, oversized long lapel coat for colder weather, classic sweatshirt, the list goes on. Chunky gold or silver jewelry is always a yes, specifically things like thick chains and hoop earrings. 

What Type of Tunic Sweater to Wear with Leggings? 

Tunic sweaters and sweaters that are longer than shirts, but shorter than dresses. They are perfectly complemented by a pair of leggings, as they are far too short to wear bare legged, and at times seem too heavy to wear with jeans or other kinds of pants. Leggings became their perfect pairing and style solution to tunic sweaters. Choose ones made of heavy materials appropriate for the fall and winter season, such as knit and wool variations. This combination is a bit heavy for the spring and summer seasons. 

Also check out: How to Wear A Sweater Over Your Dress (Women’s Edition)

What Are the Best Leggings to Wear as Pants? 

Leggings will always be leggings, and can never replace the concept of pants. However, they can be a substitute when looking for a comfier alternative. Here are the best leggings to wear instead of pants. Even though they are not cheap, they are of higher quality than most versions: 

  • Lululemon Align Pants—retail for $98 but are worth the investment. Sturdy, comfortable, and chic, these leggings are must-haves. 
  • Zella Live in High Waist Leggings—retail for $59 at a bit more affordable price. Thicker and sculpting, these are great for older women. 
  • Pact Go-To Leggings—retail for $35 and made from organic cotton material, they have a naturally soft finish. 

How to Wear Leggings on a Night Out? 

You have an upcoming night out, but just the thought of wearing a skirt or pants makes you want to scream. Want to wear your comfy leggings instead? Here’s how. Begin with a pair of form fitting leggings that give your body a nice shape, and preferably have some sort of texture. Hide your ankles to make it less noticeable you’re wearing leggings. A pair of ankle high heeled booties are the perfect addition. Make the outfit even dressier by throwing on a blazer. 

Cute Leggings Outfit? 

Leggings are rarely described as cute or girly, but they can be so. Choose leggings in pastel colors such as dusty pink, lilac, mint green, or powder blue. Combine with crop tops with accentuated shoulder details. Think frills and ruffles. A form fitting sweatshirt in another pastel shade will combine well with them, as well as gold jewelry, and sunglasses with thin metallic frames. If you like, you could also consider trying printed leggings. There are endless variations in floral or striped prints that are very girly.

Sexy Leggings Outfit? 

When it comes to leggings, ‘sexy’ is always in the vocabulary. A wise woman once said, “Diamonds were once a girl’s best friend—then leggings happened.” This quote speaks the truth! Leggings are always a good idea, and they are always a quick and easy way to look more attractive. The sexiest leggings are the most figure hugging, accentuating kind, that shape your backside and make your legs seem longer. Make sure to have perfect posture when wearing them to look even sexier, and consider switching your sneakers for a pair of stilettos. 

Also check out: Spandex and Sweatshirts: All the Best Styles of the 80s Athletic Scene

Smart Leggings Outfit? 

Smart dressing is defined primarily by garments that do not look sloppy; the effect must be the opposite, to seem put together and refined. For a super simple take on a smart leggings outfit, begin with your favorite pair. Make sure they are clean, straightened out, and a solid black color. Throw on a black, long-sleeved top with a boat neckline. Black on black looks posh and smart. Slip on a pair of black loafers that are comfortable yet chic, and a leather handbag to finish off the look. 

Spring Leggings Outfit?

A thin pair of leggings are a fresh and comfortable option for the springtime. Perfect for traveling or a walk through the city, a few pairs will always get you out of a rut when seeking to throw together a quick spring appropriate outfit. Springtime means floral prints, so make sure to incorporate them with your leggings. Wear leggings underneath a blouse, rain jacket on fresher days, and with slip on sneakers or loafers. Anything comfortable, loose, and relaxed will pair well. Think bright colors!

Summer Leggings Outfit? 

Depending on where you live, summer temperatures can get very hot… therefore, many people stay away from leggings during this season. However, if you love your leggings, there are still ways to wear them even in the summer heat. Find the lightest pair of leggings you can. Look for fabric compositions with cotton, which tend to be the most breathable. You can wear leggings under a sundress for a more conservative look, or with a long tee shirt at the beach. Leggings are the perfect beach loungewear—wear them as a coverup on top of your swimsuit after a dip in the ocean or in the pool, and even to dinner after. 

Check out: How to Style an Oversized T-shirt…Outfit Ideas & Styling Tips

Fall Leggings Outfit? 

Fall is a great season to get creative and switch up your leggings. Instead of reaching for a classic black pair, consider other colors and fabrics that go with this season. Stick to a color palette of browns, oranges, creams, and even lilac would look very nice. Looking for a quick Halloween costume hack for last minute ideas? Find a pair of striped leggings in any shade with black, such as purple, orange, yellow. You can be a bumble bee, funky witch, pumpkin, the list goes on. Cute and a huge problem solver for people who do not want to invest too much money on a costume they will wear once! You can reuse the leggings next year as something else. 

Winter Leggings Outfit? 

Shake off your winter blues and climb out of your couch—leggings included. Leggings are a great option for the winter season. They work for layering, and thicker versions are ideal on their own instead of trousers or jeans. Consider materials like fleece-lined versions, wool, cashmere, and suede. Going skiing for the week? Pack your leggings. You can wear them while you’re skiing down the slopes, underneath your ski suit, and then for a cup of hot cocoa at the ski lounge. Wear them to bed, to breakfast, and just about anywhere. These have become a winter season favorite in the fashion industry. 

How to Style Long Tops for Leggings?

To style long tops for leggings, make sure you choose a top that has a loose fall, yet creates a nice silhouette. Since leggings are skin tight and not loose whatsoever, it’s important to create balance when building outfits atop of them. Avoid long tops that are also tight, as this will be highly unflattering. You can play around with shoulders and sleeves, just make sure to match styles. A sporty legging should be paired with a sporty top, etc. 

What Shirts to Wear with Leggings?

Shirts are the easiest way to style leggings in terms of a casual, sporty, or street-style inspired look. For a cleaner finish, opt for a classic tee shirt with a v-neckline and long sleeves. For a more laid back, effortless vibe, choose a tee-shirt with small rips and wear a bralette that shows through underneath. A sporty crop-top is another cute way to style leggings that is perfect for the gym, and then straight to coffee with friends after. 

Also Check out: How to Wear A Shirtdress in Winter (Women’s Edition)

Leggings and Boots Outfit? 

Leggings and boots are the perfect fall and winter combination. Versatile, comfortable, and when styled correctly, very sexy, these two were meant to be paired together. Choose either leather or suede boots. If you are building an outfit on classic black leggings, the options for boots are endless. Leather booties with sharp heels for the nighttime, rain boots when the weather hits, and knee-length horse-back riding style boots for the day. Consider cheetah print booties for a fun way to create a different look. 

Also Check out: How To Wear A Dress With Over The Knee Boots (Women’s Edition)

Leggings and Sneakers Outfit?

You can never go wrong with leggings and sneakers. While leggings are used for various other purposes, they are essentially a sporty fashion garment. Wear your leggings to the gym with your go-to trainers. For a day out, choose a pair of dressier sneakers and wear them with ankle length socks that don’t show through. During the fall and winter, you can opt for thick white socks and place them above the hem of the leggings. Celebrities have been including this for years as part of an ‘on the run’ sporty aesthetic. 

Check out: How to Wear Dresses with Sneakers (and Other Accessories too!)

Final & Concluding Thoughts

Everyone needs more leggings. Comfortable, classic, and chic—they can solve many fashion emergencies. Start with a few pairs of black, and then grow from there. Don’t be afraid of prints or unusual colors. For the upcoming year, we recommend investing in pastel leggings—these seem to be taking over celebrity street-style looks. Even if you dislike loungewear and being underdressed, a pair of leggings is a good idea to have to create a truly complete wardrobe—even if they are just to wear at home. A great option for lazy Sunday instead of staying in your pajamas all day!

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About The Author

May can usually be found reading a magazine and that will be more than likely a fashion or environmental magazine. When not absorbed in the latest gripping articles on fashion or eco living, May is a fashion writer who is passionate about two things fashion (especially 80s) and the environment. May believes in looking and feeling good whilst living an eco friendly lifestyle. In her spare time she loves cooking, playing her guitar and going for country walks. May lives in the UK and enjoys spending time with friends, family and her two adorable cats.

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