Sunday, September 19, 2010

obsession : leggings

My friends all know I am obsessed with leggings, and I do wear "leggings as pants" and have decided that since I am a fashion major I am allowed to make calls on these such things. I remember when leggings first "came out" in high school and I thought they were an abomination. However, they were usually brown and below the knee and worn with jean skirts, so anyone would have thought so. But then I started casually adding leggings to skirts and dresses (I can't believe I did that, either, since I can't stand anything under skirts or dresses now but tights. Since I wear "leggings as pants" its like wearing pants under a dress to me.) Yet now, leggings have made wonderful advances so that they actually look like clothing, not just athletic gear you "left on" after going to the gym or long johns or what have you. Lindsay Lohan, believe it or not, helped make this contribution to the fashion world, but don't expect too much more.

The rule with leggings has always been, among my friends, to cover your rear end. You can wear them as pants, with a longer top. You cannot wear them like jeans, with a short t-shirt. You can wear them with a baggy sweatshirt. You cannot wear them with a short sweater. And so on. And the main reason for these things is the tragic translucency of leggings when you drop things and have to pick them up, or sit down, or move in any way.

And then Balenciaga Spring 2007 RTW brought in a whole new standard.

Leggings have obviously gotten more creative. Now you can find them with tiny studs going up the sides like a seam, or in sequined fabrics, or interesting textures and colors (or in the ever popular "wet look" style to mimic leather). I personally am dying to design a pair of princess-seamed leggings in a really thick, almost neoprene-like sporty material for winter. But leggings can be really intimidating - you can't just wear any shoe with them (and most certainly not Uggs, either, please) and the length of the shirt where it hits your thigh is of utmost importance. I happen to feel that the more interesting the leggings, the more they can verge on "pants".

The "leather" leggings are, in my mind, the most acceptable to wear like you would pants. The material is thick enough to be substantial, so you can get away with more. Plus, they just look cool and edgy. There aren't really many rules for these - just keep the outfits simpler, since you have half your body covered in shiny fabric, and toughen it up to keep it from looking like a mistake.

Plain jersey leggings, on the other hand, need a little more coverage (and they don't have to be just black). Notice the hemlines of the tops in these pictures - they hit around the widest part of the hips, or, are long enough to cover what is needed. If you do insist on going with a shorter shirt, though, just layer it with a longer sweater or cropped jacket so your outfit can have a little substance. The key here is proportion - since the silhouette hugs the figure on the bottom half, keep things looser on top.

Speaking of keeping things looser on top, leggings look awesome with coats. In a perfect world, you could keep your coat on all day but we all know that can't happen. But the reason it works is just because of proportion.

And of course, patterned leggings offer a whole new variety of options. I prefer looks like these where the leggings are the main spectacle - graphic prints, laces, what have you.

Leggings aren't for everybody, but they aren't impossible or intimidating either. It can take a bold person to wear leggings correctly, and an even bolder person to wear acid-wash tie-dye leggings correctly (and I do know someone who makes that work) - but leggings are slowly (or actually, quickly) transitioning into a wardrobe staple much like a good pair of jeans and riding boots have always been, at least in my closet. Now jeggings are a completely different species - because they are "jeans" you can treat them so. And by jeggings, I mean denim-ish legging pants that have flat-felled inseams, back pockets, and a (possibly fake but not always) fly front. I won't go there today, but they follow the same rules in my book - proportion matters.

I finally, finally bought a new pair of leggings, might I add. My old pair had a hole in the knee from crossing my legs under a table with something sharp and pointy under it. I hand sewed it shut and every time I put them on it felt like a little scar in the fabric and drove me crazy. Further holes developed. It was time. Now I just need a red pair, and a graphic black and white pair, and ...

1 comment:

  1. :) Love this. You're only able to pull them off as pants because you're so thing, I'd agree with the cover the lady bits and majority of the butt rule for most of us.

    I have.. a pair of sweater gray, thin heather gray, 1 cropped solid gray (with buttons!), black underarmour leggings (surprisingly warm and wearable), black with zippers at the hem, liquid black, magenta, lighter purple, cropped white... I must stop shopping.


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