Move over, little black dress. Comfortable, functional, and certainly stylish, leggings are the darling of today’s fashion world.
That’s because as these form-fitting staples outpace the popularity of other essentials — like good old blue jeans — so does their versatility. They’ve long been the ensemble of workouts, errands, and lounging around. But leggings now offer a range of fabrics, prints, and styles that can do it all, conforming comfortably to both your body and your day.
This means there are plenty of possibilities when it comes to everybody’s favorite athleisure pants. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people have about leggings.
What to wear with leggings
Quality leggings stand up to sweat, squats, marathon-long runs, and more. But they’re also a great outfit base for any occasion.
In general, longer tops make for a more put-together, balanced leggings outfit. With that in mind, base the clothing items you choose around what kind of look you’re after:
- Casual: pair with an oversized button-down shirt, relaxed-fit jacket, chunky sweater or cardigan, or slouchy sweatshirt or t-shirt
- Professional or dressed-up: pair with an airy blouse, sharp blazer, or flowy tunic
Because leggings look great with layered tops, it’s easy to adjust your outfit throughout the day as well. Go from coffee with a friend to a night on the town with simple swaps—like:
- Trading a flannel button-down worn over a t-shirt for a sleek leather jacket
- Changing from flats into knee-high boots or heels
- Playing around with accessories like hats, scarves, and jewelry
What does 7/8 leggings mean?
Legging length refers to its inseam—and 7/8 length leggings sit about 1/8 shorter than full, ankle-length varieties. This design gives your leggings a slightly cropped look that lengthens your legs’ appearance.
How to style leggings
Just make sure that if you opt for a pair with texture, patterns, or bright colors, you keep your top simple and chic—like a plain white t-shirt or sweater—to ensure the right balance.
With leggings’ tight fit, layering with long, oversized, and loose-fitting tops gives your outfit more dimension. For example, try a long, chambray button-down with a neutral cardigan for daytime attire or a flowy, silk top with a structured blazer to dress your leggings up.
What are leggings?
Leggings are form-fitting, limber pants that flatter virtually every physique. A quality pair has fabric that’s totally opaque on your body—so there’s no see-through fashion faux pas—and have a barely-there feel to them, making them one of the most comfortable and adaptable clothing items around.
Leggings also come in a variety of:
- Lengths, ranging from just past the knee to flush with the ankle
- Waistlines, from at the hip to above the belly button
- Patterns, textures, and purpose-driven styles for a range of activities
How to dress up leggings
Black, neutral-colored, or jewel-toned leggings are best for a more dressed-up look. From there, choose a longer top—like an oversized sweater, tunic, or shirt dress—that completely covers your back end.
Accessories can elevate a dressy leggings outfit even more. Get playful with long necklaces, drapey scarves, cinched belts, leather boots, or a statement bag to give your everyday leggings that extra oomph.
What underwear to wear with leggings?
Laser-cut underwear is seamless and edgeless, helping to keep pesky panty lines at bay. Thong styles reduce visible fabric folds through your leggings even more—though if you prefer more coverage, boyshorts pair nicely as well.
You’ll want to choose a breathable fabric for your underwear, too. Natural materials like cotton help wick away moisture, reducing the risk of harmful bacteria or yeast.
How to fold leggings
Start with your leggings laid out flat and fold them in half lengthwise, forming a single pant length. From there, you can either:
- Fold them in half again and then into thirds so that they’re stackable
- Fold down the waistband and roll the fabric from the ankle, tucking it into the waistband
What shoes to wear with leggings
Footwear options are endless with leggings, too.
Sneakers and slip-ons maintain leggings’ true athleisure vibe, while a pair of sleek sandals can offer a different kind of casual feel.
Ballet flats, loafers, and heels are great additions if you’re wearing your leggings to work or on a night out, while ankle or knee-high boots lend a cute, sophisticated vibe.
How to wear leggings over 50
Leggings aren’t just for yogis and gym lovers—and they definitely aren’t just for those under a certain age. With their flexible, supportive fabric, wide waistline, and comfortable fit, leggings create a polished, modern look for women of every age.
Just remember the golden styling rules of leggings:
- Choose quality leggings with opaque—not see-through—fabric (which also means selecting the right sizefor your body).
- Opt for longer, flowy tops that add balance and structure to your look.
- Dress your outfit up for any occasion with accessories.
What to wear with grey leggings
Grey leggings pair beautifully with light pastels and denim to create a softer, casual appearance. But opting for tops in black, beige, or darker colors also instantly dresses grey leggings up.
What to wear with camo leggings
Camouflage makes for a stylish, chic leggings pattern, and they look great with longer tops paired with a leather, bomber, or even denim jacket.
But whether you’re rocking traditional army-green camo or a more colorful print, make sure they stand out—a fashionable irony—by pairing them with muted, neutral tones like blacks, browns, and whites.
Who invented leggings?
Tight, form-fitting pants have cycled in and out of fashion for generations. But leggings, as we know and love them today, started with the invention of Lycra—AKA Spandex—in 1958. A chemist named Joseph Shivers created the stretchy, pliable fabric as an alternative to the rubber used in women’s undergarments, and it was quickly adopted by the fashion industry.
What are compression leggings?
Compression leggings add gentle pressure to the muscles in your legs as you wear them. This design aims to offer extra support and stability whether you’re weightlifting, running, traveling, or simply on your feet all day.
Like other compression clothing items, compression leggings help to increase blood flow and improve circulation. Research shows they may even improve your muscle endurance, reduce inflammation, and speed up exercise recovery.
What to wear under workout leggings
According to OBGYNs, you don’t have to wear anything under workout leggings if you don’t want to. The key is to ensure your leggings’ fabric keeps moisture under control—like with cotton or Lycra—to ward off the risk of infection.
If you’re not comfortable going commando, the same principle applies to whatever undergarments you wear. This includes tights, which you can wear under your leggings to keep warm during the winter months.