Leggings: Eek or Chic

Hands up if you can remember that feeling of dread, way back in the noughties, when you heard that leggings were back? Keep your hand in the air if leggings are now a staple piece in your wardrobe? Thought so. The stretchy, black, not-quite-trousers are firmly placed in our fashion hearts.

Does the ultimate comfy legwear deserve their place or are they like that guy you dated when you were seventeen; you knew he was bad for you but you couldn’t quite bring yourself to dump him. Leggings have been hovering around awkwardly in fashion circles since the 1960’s but it was during the eighties, thanks to films such as Flashdance, when they really came into their own. Dancewear as streetwear became the norm and, rightly or wrongly, leggings adorned the legs of fashionista’s everywhere.

By the end of the nineties the unflattering fabric had been relegated to fitness wear and duvet days only. But their reign was far from over, for less than a decade later leggings started appearing on the high street once again and slowly but surely have become our go-to wardrobe item; protecting our modesty under the shortest of skirts and keeping our legs warm during the winter months. We may have shaken our heads and thought, with a knowing smile, that this trend would pass quickly but the legging is here to stay. Only this time they have evolved to be a much more forgiving garment. Better fabrics, techniques and embellishments mean that, if worn correctly, leggings can be a chic and hardworking addition to any wardrobe.

The slightly thicker but no less stretchy jeggings and the no thicker but less stretchy ultra-skinny fit jeans have expanded the legging family so that now there is a trouser supplement for almost anyone. But those of you who remember them the first time around will know the minefield you have to navigate for appropriate legging etiquette.

Here are Maggie Semple’s five rules for keeping leggings this side of chic:

1. Wet look leggings are for models only – no actual civilian has ever pulled this look off successfully.
2. Don’t forget the squat challenge – if, when crouching, you can see your underwear through your leggings then you should probably have invested in jeans.
3. Always ensure your top is longer than your crotch or be prepared for jibes about camel toe – take them on the chin; this is your own fault, you were warned!
4. Under no circumstances should anyone wear white leggings, ever.
5. Never confuse with tights.

Just one final thought; if you ever see a man in leggings walk away as quickly as possible, skinny jeans may be for rock stars but leggings are for women only.

Samantha Vandersteen

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