How to Look Good in Leggings: A Beginner’s Guide

Daaaaamn, Fledglings. I went to pull up some lame memes or e-cards about leggings, and I ended up buried under a pile of Other People’s Judgment. “Oh these Millennials, wearing leggings as pants! No wonder they don’t have jobs!” “Hey Fatty, stop wearing things that remind other people how fat you are!” Half of them were just sneaky photos of women with VPL’s (Visible Panty Lines) on the subway or sidewalk.

Ryan Gosling Leggings
This was literally the nicest one I could find.

I don’t have any kind of time for that business. Whoever made these memes needs a new hobby that’s not ‘Judging Women’s Clothing Choices.’ If I want to wear leggings and a t-shirt to the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon, every last one of the people I encounter can shut right on up about it. Maybe I’m not interested in making you think I look good right then. Maybe I just need yogurt, and maybe Mr. McJudgy in the check-out line can get over it.

Now, work is a different story, because we do need people to think we look put-together and professional at work, so the way to wear leggings at work is, sadly, not the same way we wear leggings for a mid-Netflix Chipotle run. Also, if you remember from last week’s post, wearing your weekend leggings at work could put you in the way of your HR department, and nobody needs that.

So how do we, the haters of structured waistbands, sport our beloved leggings at work while still looking like we’re, y’know, at work? Never fear, I have some basic rules you can follow to keep comfy and look profesh:

  1. Wear Your Good Leggings to Work. Threadbare leggings with unraveled hems and holes in the crotch are your weekend leggings, not your work leggings. Also, leggings with kittens or galaxies or comic book characters on them are your weekend leggings. Sorry about that. My favorite leggings are from Old Navy. Theirs are sturdier than any others I’ve found, they have a wider waistband than some others so they’re a more comfortable option, and they cost Twelve Dollars. You could buy a pair for every day of the week at that cost. And they rotate different prints and colors through, so drop in regularly to see what they come out with and replenish your stock as your old ones start looking worn.
  2. Solids and Subtle Patterns are Better for Work. Plain black leggings can be mistaken for tights, and that’s a good con to run at the office. Also, solid leggings or ones with a small or subtle pattern (think small dots, thinner stripes, or a mottled pattern) are going to match more of your existing work clothes, so you’re getting more versatility and year-round use out of those $12 leggings, and who doesn’t want to have more outfits for fewer dollars?
  3. Cover Your Booty. Like I said, running to grab a coffee or heading to a friend’s house for a Golden Girl’s marathon is a perfectly-fine time to wear a regular old t-shirt and leggings. But at work, butts squeezed into leggings are not what people need to be seeing. Whatever you wear on top of the leggings, it needs to come down past your butt enough that you can bend or crouch without showing off your crotch. The upside here is that you can put your leggings under things like mini skirts, short dresses, and tunic tops to make your weekend wear work-appropriate and get you through the steamy summer months without sweating to death in slacks. Use the leggings to your advantage!
  4. Use Leggings to Add Warmth. One of the many reasons leggings are great is that they’re warm and cozy. If your office is cold, or it’s winter and you’re hating the idea of shelving all your swingy skirts and dresses, put some leggings under them! Better yet, leggings and boots. You’ve got a great cool-weather look with clothes you were wearing in the heat of summer.
  5. Don’t Forget Your Cardigans. If you’ve got a top/leggings combo you love, but it really does show too much booty for work, don’t overlook that stash of cardigans in your closet! Throw a butt-covering cardi over your top and leggings, and you’re all set for a work day that doesn’t include stares from Awkward Jim in Purchasing.

If you add leggings to your existing work clothes – you know, the ones that fit properly, meet the office dress code, and work with your budget – you won’t ever have to worry about accidentally making a work-fashion faux pas, and you can still wear your favorite wardrobe staple to your 8-5.

Next week, we talk shoes! Good work shoes don’t have to suck, either budget- or comfort-wise, and a good pair of shoes can take you from ‘dressed for work’ to ‘dressed like a boss.’

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