Leggings as Pants? We Settle the Debate

Updated: May 24, 2021

Here are the fashion rules for wearing leggings as pants.

are-leggings-pants-via-aloyoga.comNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, via Aloyoga.comWhen it comes to fashion, styles come and styles go. However, there’s one trend that’s here to stay: leggings. Yes, leggings can indeed be worn as pants. The trick is knowing how, and where, to don them stylishly.

Legging Styles Work Best?

According to designer and TV personality Lauren Conrad, pulling off the “leggings as pants” look in the best, most fashion-forward way possible, is an art form. “Leggings, like most trends, can look great if done tastefully,” says Conrad. “I personally love to throw on a pair of leggings if I have to run errands, take a long flight, or when I’m doing something active.”

Conrad believes a classic, opaque black pair of leggings is always a safe bet when dressing. She likes the more athletic styles with ribbed details—like the celeb-favorite leggings from Alo Yoga—which are “cool and forward, too.”

Bright colors and bold patterns that adorn some leggings are absolutely welcome in the gym, says Conrad. “When it comes to wearing your leggings as daywear, however, stick to more simple details such as zippers, bows, ripped knees, and other simple touches.”

What Should You Wear Leggings With?

Glamour.com says there’s a “time and a place” for leggings as pants. And, If you truly must wear your leggings as pants with a shirt, the shirt must cover your bum—no exceptions! Well…maybe. “If you do decide not cover your bum then you should follow a few rules,” says Nisonja McGary, an LA-based celebrity stylist. “Make sure the leggings you choose are thick and not see-through.” Also, says McGary, make sure the shirt or top you are wearing is loose. “You don’t want to walk around like you are about to go to a nightclub. Leggings are meant to be comfortable so having on tight clothing top to bottom is overkill.” She adds, if you wear a crop top with leggings, “make sure it’s a loose crop top, that your leggings are thick, and that the outfit is right for your body type.” (Here are fashion tips to dress ten pounds thinner.)

To avoid panty lines around the bum caused by more traditional underwear, McGary advises women to wear a thong or seamless underwear. “If you are very comfortable and the leggings have an absorbent fabric you can go commando.”

As for donning leggings to work, it really depends on your job and the office vibe. If you work in an office with a formal dress code, it’s probably best to avoid leggings-as-pants at work. However, if you have a casual job, says McGary, then go ahead and wear leggings. “To keep it professional pair them with a button up top and blazer. Opt for heels, as they’re dressier than boots.”

Mostly, advises McGary, treat leggings like skinny jeans if you wear them outside the gym. “Tuck them in your boots with a boxy sweater. Or with a sexy button-up and pointy heels. Don’t make them the focal point of your outfit; they belong in the background.”

McGary likes Nesh leggings (more than just plain black, they have sheer tears or patterns which gives them that cool ‘ripped jeans’ look), and explains, “If you choose to wear leggings with patterns or prints, keep the rest of your look simple. Pair them with a long shirt or big sweater.”