Wearing Leggings as Pants… Yay or Nay?


Are these girls forward fashionista’s or have they made a faux pas?


I went to an Intimo Lingerie Party last night. It was lots of fun and great to find out I’ve been wearing a cup size smaller than what I thought I was! Intimo also sell clothing as well, such as convertible and versatile jackets and skirts, and leggings. Apparently these ‘leggings’ are sheer at the bum, so I made the comment that I wouldn’t buy them because I like to wear my leggings as pants. Someone responded that it is not fashionable to wear leggings as pants and if I want to wear pants, then get pants.


Whilst I am not expert on fashion, I do work in fashion, and must stay up to date with current trends, as well as how to style different looks on different body shapes for different budgets and different tastes. So I feel that I know what is considered ‘fashionable’ and leggings are definitely fashionable as pants (when worn properly) … But there will be a lot of people who will disagree with me on that one!

This got me thinking about the debate about whether leggings can be worn about pants. It seems that there are a lot of people against the idea of leggings as pants. But I think that this may be because many people often get confused between tights, leggings and stockings, and how to wear each of these items.

Difference between Stockings, Tights and Leggings

Stockings are made from nylon and start at your toes and end at your waist. (You can also get the thigh-high stay ups as well). They are generally sheer or close to sheer, and there is often a ‘crotch part’ in the stockings, Because of this, stockings should NEVER be worn as pants. I’m sure this is common knowledge of most… unless you’re Paris Hilton:


There is also some debate about whether stockings should be worn with open toe shoes. I say no. It looks a little tacky. BUT I have actually committed this fashion crime before when I had no other shoes to wear with a dress… I think that this crime is slightly more forgivable. 😉

Tights are slightly thicker than stockings, normally made from nylon or a cotton-lycra blend. They can be footless, cut off at the calf, or have stirrups at the foot. There are often many colours for tights and they can really change the look of an outfit. But they are still slightly see-through, so they should be worn in the same way that stockings would be worn.

This is where people normally go wrong – tights are not, I repeat NOT pants! Usually you can see through them and see your underwear (or lack of…) and it’s definitely not a good look. For example:

**EXCLUSIVE**Jennifer Love Hewitt attends an hour long pole dancing class


Leggings are the thickest of the three, going down to the ankle and giving the appearance of pants. Many leggings come in prints or patterns, and there are also jeggings (jean leggings) and leather-look leggings available. Hence the reason that it is ok to wear them as pants. So key rule to remember here: If they look like pants, they can be worn as pants. BUT there are some tricks to it…

Wearing Leggings as Pants

Yes – leggings can be worn as pants! BUT only if done correctly. Here’s the tips and tricks I have learnt over the last few years from my own experience as well as from working in retail fashion..

Make sure they fit right.  Don’t wear leggings that are too tight in the hope that they will suck you in. They’re not Spanks. Wearing a size too small will only make lumps and bumps more obvious. The leggings should not be so tight that they are starting to be see-through at the bum. On the other end of the scale, they should not be baggy around the thighs and bum. They should be comfortable enough to move in.



Also make sure your leggings are not too long or too short. If you get this wrong you can mess up your whole outfit.

Wear a loose or oversize top. When looking at people who get the leggings-as-pants look right, you will normally see them wearing a long, loose top that covers the bum. Or if their top is shorter and more fitted, they wear leggings with and oversized cardigan. Knits also look great with leggings, especially long or oversized knits.


When girls wear leggings-as-pants with cropped tops it can look tacky and often doesn’t work. It is possible to pull it off, but difficult to do it stylishly. Same with peplum tops. Because it’s very difficult to style leggings with a crop or peplum, stick to a long, oversized shirt, cardigan or sweater as your top.


Stylish leggings and peplum combination


Team with boots or ballet flats. Leggings work best when worn with boots or flats. They look really good with knee high boots, booties, heeled boots… you name it. Except Ugg Boots. DON”T wear your ugg boots or slippers with leggings outside of the home.


Occassionally you can get away with wearing heels, but a lot of people fail to do this stylishly. If you’re still new to this look, then stick with boots or ballet flats.

Leggings are generally for casual occasions. I love leggings for travel. They are also great for shopping with the girls or for a winter cafe catchup. However, I did once wear leggings out to a club with heels. This is because they were dark and had a felt print on them. They looked like subtly printed pants. I had a long chiffon top on, so the outfit looked very put together. I was only able to wear them out because they were a dressier style. You will see that there are a lot of dressier styles coming in, such as the leather look pants, or even ‘disco pants’ (shiny coloured leggings).

I am not a fan of the disco pants, probably because there are a lot of people who wear the really bright ones with a mismatched crop top and I don’t think this is a good look. But there are a lot of people who are and who pull them off.


See fashion-train.blogspot.com.au

Leggings-as-pants are NOT for the office. Even on casual Fridays. Wearing something that tight is not appropriate for an office environment. And a lot of the people against leggings-as-pants are the older generation (i.e. your boss or manager). So please don’t be that girl that wears leggings-as-pants to your office.

If wearing printed leggings, wear a plain top. It’s just plain and simple – don’t overload your outfit with too many prints. Print clashing can work, but it is often hard to master. If you are going to wear your printed leggings as pants, then keep the rest of the look simple.


Jeggings are the best leggings-as-pants. Jeggings basically look like jeans. A lot of jeggings  have pockets and belt hooks, so they look very similar to jeans. So they are more than acceptable to wear as pants. Just make sure they are not cheap ones that sag at the bum or are see through when stretched.



You should still go for loose, oversized tees when wearing jeggings though. Or pair it with a casual blazer. That way you’ll look polished and stylish.

Use caution when wearing leggings as pants. Obviously not everyone will agree with my style tips. When in doubt, don’t wear leggings as pants. Also, leggings with cut outs or rips that are high up the thigh are a sign that the leggings should be dealt with carefully. A dress or at least a very long, oversized shirt is a MUST. Otherwise it can look a little trashy.


The above pic I’m not entirely sure about. The girl has an oversized top on so it should be ok, but I think the see-through parts make me not like this outfit. That’s not to say it isn’t stylish – in fact a lot of people will wear that above outfit and will look great in it. But I think it’s boderline ok before leading into the don’t-wear’-those-leggings-as-pants territory…

Dresses look great over leggings. This is where everyone will agree. If all else fails, wear a short dress with plain leggings underneath. You can’t fail on that.


I hope that helps some people in the dilemma about wearing leggings as pants. At the end of the day, it’s not for everyone. And a lot of people will look at the pictures above and think that the outfits are gross, tacky, not stylish, etc. And they have every right to think that. But for the rest of us leggings-as-pants lovers, the tips above should keep you stylish and fashionable, and you may even have learnt something new 🙂


What do you think: would you or do you wear leggings as pants? What are your tips for being stylish when wearing leggings?


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