To wear leggings, or not to wear leggings? That is the question. Some feel leggings are a comfortable, easy clothing option that are perfect for running errands, completing chores or lounging around the house. Others are adamant that leggings are not pants, and, therefore should not be worn as such. Motherhood is challenging for many reasons, and many women with kids wear leggings on a nearly daily basis. Why do most moms love leggings so damn much? Well, they’re cheap, comfortable, easy to move in and easy to clean. What’s not to love?
The debate about whether or not leggings are an appropriate clothing choice rages on. Many members of the older generations are appalled by those who wear leggings and most of those who are part of the younger generations applauding the genius who invented them. So, what do the fashion experts think? Cosmopolitan.com’s Style Editor, Charles Manning, has weighed in on the topic. Who better to give an opinion than a man whose job it is to tell women what they should and shouldn’t wear.
When Manning was asked if it is ever okay to wear leggings as pants, he replied, “A couple of years ago I would have said ‘no, never outside the gym or only as a layering piece under a skirt.’ But over the last few years, the line between what is a pant and what is a legging has been so blurred (hello, jeggings!) that it feels wrong to write off all leggings as being gym- or innerwear-exclusive.”
Manning has a few good points. Whether or not a woman should wear leggings has a lot less to do with her size or shape than it does with how she chooses to style them. Below you will find 7 moms looking smoking hot in leggings, and 7 who could learn a thing or two from Manning about how to wear leggings.
14 Hot: Mom On The Go
Mother-of-three Denise Richards is one mother who has mastered the art of wearing leggings. She's chosen a thick, black pair and has then styled her look impeccably. She looks chic while still being comfortable. Major mom win!
How does fashion aficionado Manning think leggings should be worn? He suggests, “Keep your look relaxed and layer up. Throw on a longer top to cover your waistband and most of the rise--the area between the crotch and the waistband. Then add a jacket that is longer than the top and wear it open in the front."
Accessories are everything when wearing leggings. Manning continues, "Throw on some other stuff too while you're at it: socks and boots, jewelry, a sweater. Add some prints and graphics in there too. Create some visual interest so the leggings don't dominate the look. And please, no shiny leggings. Ever. They just look cheap and overly tight and that's no good.” This guy knows his stuff, and Denise is one celebrity mom who is a walking, talking example of how leggings should be worn.
13 Not: Skin-toned Shocker
Manning continues, “For me, it really boils down to the thickness of the fabric and how you style them. If your leggings are flimsy enough that you can see through them in direct sunlight, then they're not really pants, they're underwear. Assuming your leggings are fully opaque, you still shouldn't wear them like you would any other pair of pants, because they're not like any other pair of pants.” He’s got a point there.
The leggings on the woman pictured above appear to be what Manning refers to as "flimsy." They are a perfect example of what it looks like when leggings are more like really long underwear than actual pants. We should add that donning any tone of flesh-colored leggings is rarely, if ever, a good idea.
When a woman chooses to go out in public in a pair of bottoms that create the optical illusion that she isn't wearing anything at all, especially when the leggings are so thin they leave absolutely nothing up to the imagination, causing her nether regions to be basically exposed, a legging look goes from inappropriate to borderline exhibitionist.
12 Hot: Classy Lassie
The woman above is not a size 2. She is still rocking the leggings look, and proving that how to wear leggings has nothing whatsoever to do with a woman's size, but with how she chooses to style her outfit when wearing them in public. Her scarf, her shoes, her vibrant blue vest and her statement bag make this outfit one that will definitely not embarrass any of her children if she wears it when picking them up from school or when taking them to the park.
Many women simply love wearing leggings. Writer Erin Mckelle admits in an article she wrote for Bustle.com, “If there's one fashion item I can't get enough of, it's leggings. Leggings are one of my must-have pieces--I repeat: I can't get enough! I am somewhat proud yet somewhat hesitant to admit that I own over 30 pairs."
Mckelle continues, "I have sky leggings, galaxy leggings, leggings with cupcakes, tie-dyed leggings, leggings with a lace side panel, red velvet leggings, and, of course, classic black ones. Although the statement legging is definitely my jam. And as an avid legging addict (did you notice?), I can say that I wear these gems as pants more often than not.” Every woman should feel free to dress how she chooses, and leggings are a wonderful clothing option. When worn correctly, they allow a woman to be just as fashionable as she is comfortable.
11 Not: Peek-a-boo Poser
Reportedly, fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld once stated, "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants." Leggings are considered by many to be a form of sweatpants that, if not worn correctly, leave absolutely nothing to the imagination.
The woman pictured above chose to wear a very thin pair of leggings with very white underclothing, thus giving the world an unwanted peek at her bum. It's outfits like the one she's wearing that give leggings a bad name, and it's apparent that this woman is in no way attempting to conceal her lady bits.
She may be rocking the "I see London, I see France, I see that girl's underpants" look on purpose to intrigue those around her, or she may be oblivious to the fact that her outfit of choice is giving the world a front-row ticket to take a gander at her panties. Ladies, before you leave the house wearing leggings, especially extremely thin ones, do a double take at your backside to ensure you aren't traumatizing small children and grown-ups alike with your legging look.
10 Hot: Casual Cutie
In her Bustle.come article, Mckelle wisely muses, "There's a social idea that we need to completely get rid of: the idea of clothing being 'flattering.' You'll see this buzzword used everywhere in the fashion word and it's totally just an excuse to fat shame those who decide to show off their bodies."
She continues, "The idea that certain clothing styles only look good on certain types of bodies is ridiculous! Plus, perhaps those of us who are curvy don't actually want to look thin--shocking, isn't it?! Leggings look fine on anyone who wants to wear them and that is the end of the 'flattering' debate."
We agree with Mckelle, to an extent. While it's true that women should feel free to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in, and women of every size can pull off the legging look, how leggings are worn can make all the difference between a well-put-together ensemble and a fashion disaster. The woman pictured above is not stick-skinny, but she looks fabulous and comfortable. She's also rocking a look she can wear to the park or the zoo without making her children blush or hide their heads in shame.
9 Not: Lumpy Leather
A previously mentioned, Manning begs women to stay away from shiny leggings because it’s nearly impossible to keep them from looking cheap, and they are almost always too tight, whatever a woman’s size.
When asked how he feels about leather pants, which are now being made as leggings, he responds, “Real leather pants are a big investment, so you've got to make sure you are going to get enough wear out of them to really justify the expense. Given that you probably cannot wear them to work (unless you work at Cosmo!), you want to make sure they will integrate seamlessly into your weekend wardrobe.”
The woman above didn't get Manning's advice when it comes to leather pant. Her leather leggings are not only giving the world a peak into what she looks like when she isn't wearing pants at all, her bottoms look wildly uncomfortable. Ladies, when opting for leather or faux leather leggings, we're with Manning. Fit is everything!
8 Hot: Simply Stunning
Victoria Beckham is one famous mother-of-four who has mastered the art of wearing leather leggings. The outfit she's rocking in the pic above is pretty much flawless, and she’s as hot as can be from head to toe.
Beckham doesn’t need any advice about how to style leather leggings, but those who want to steal this look should heed Manning’s wise words on the subject. He shares, “Before you make up your mind, try a great pair of faux leather pants and see how often you actually wear them. A really great faux leather is almost indistinguishable from the real thing, especially at a distance, so you might find that you don't actually want real leather at all.”
Manning continues, “If and when you do decide that you're ready for the real deal, consider a pair of paneled pants with leather in the front and fabric in the back. They're less expensive than full leather pants, but give practically the same look. If you choose full leather, keep in mind that leather stretches out over time and can be very difficult to adjust, so make sure the fit is perfect and look for something with a little stretch to help them hold their shape.”
7 Not: Too Much Information
Okay, ladies. There is most definitely a legging-wearing line that should never be crossed, and it’s this: if you must wear see-through leggings, please do not select your most inappropriate and embarrassing pair of underwear to wear underneath. Might we add, especially when your daughter is in tow.
The little girl in the picture above should not have to traipse around town with her mom when said mom’s bum is letting everyone and anyone who cares to read her backside in on the fact that she gets around. We aren’t picky. Really. Purple leggings? Great! See through leggings? A little less ideal, but still not the worst thing in the entire world as long as what is underneath is palatable.
Underwear showing through purple leggings that say “I get around?” Not so great. It’s one thing to wear this get-up when flying solo, but when your child is with you, we beg of you, opt for a different outfit combination.
6 Hot: She's A Natural
The mom above is looking so damn good in her leggings she should be a poster child for how to wear them. She looks classy, put-together, comfy and ready to snuggle her baby all day long, if that’s what she chooses to do. As has been previously stated, there are many ways to wear leggings that are not only fashionable and lovely, but as far from inappropriate as humanly possible.
Mckelle also bluntly states in her article, “As a woman who regularly wears leggings as pants, I often hear all kinds of annoying comments about them. This goes back to the slut shaming that often comes with wearing leggings, since you can very clearly see someone's body shape. Here's the thing: Have you ever considered that we legging wearers might like being exposed?”
She adds, “The idea of people seeing the full shape of my thighs while actually being completely covered up really makes me happy. So no, I don't hate being exposed. But I dohate your Puritanical bullsh***.”
5 Not: Trainwreck
This woman is just chilling, waiting for her train to arrive, and looking mighty exposed in the meantime. That is one atomic wedgie she’s got there, and the fleshy tone of her leggings isn’t making it any less noticeable. To be honest, this woman might actually look less scandalous if she was standing on the subway platform without any pants on at all, and was just in her skivvies. Any sort of underwear seems less revealing than the get-up pictured above.
Not only does the way the leggings are being worn in the pic above look terribly uncomfortable, this woman's outfit is one of those that make the general public wildly uncomfortable when they see them. When one sees a woman sporting this look, what is the appropriate course of action? Stare? Look away? Cry? Hide your children’s impressionable young eyes before their retinas are burned to ashes? It’s not fair to anyone else in the world to dress like this. Have a pair of way-too-tight, skin-colored leggings? BURN THEM! They aren’t doing you any favors. Trust us.
4 Hot: Bombshell In Black
Mckelle also shares in her rant about the beauty of leggings, “Comfort should absolutely be one of the first rules of style and I refuse to not wear a piece of clothing because it's comfortable--isn't that sort of masochistic? You should wear whatever you want to, especially things that are comfy.”
In the photo above, actress and Honest Company co-founder Jessica Alba is looking oh-so-chic all in black. Not only does she look flawless and badass, she appears to be totally and completely comfortable. The mother-of-two is about to add a third baby to her brood. She doesn’t have time for uncomfortable attire. She’s living proof that it’s possible to enjoy the comfort of leggings without dressing inappropriately.
Speaking to people who aren’t fond of the leggings trend, Mckelle continues, “People will often say...that pajamas and bathrobes are comfortable, but you don't see people going to work in them. That's true, but leggings can totally work as out-in-the-world clothing, whereas pajamas and robes aren't exactly day-to-night or home-to-office transitional.” It’s safe to say Alba’s outfit is perfection whether she’s doing a television interview or hitting up the grocery store for some peanut butter and milk.
3 Not: Crotch Shot
Writer for Elle magazine, Ruthie Friedlander, has a different take on the leggings trend. Basically, she hates it. She writes, “I scratch my head when I see [women] opting to wear leggings as pants instead of, well, pants as pants. There are times, of course, when leggings are appropriate. When going to the gym, leggings and sweatpants of any kind are totally okay. I've heard that when pregnant, leggings are a savior, although I cannot personally attest to that. But leggings with high heels? Leggings with a blazer? Leggings, just because? And leggings on celebrities, the very people we rely on to preserve some of the fantasy of fashion? Why?”
Friedlander is entitled to her opinion, and she’s got a point about the very true fact that there is right and a wrong way to wear leggings. The photo above depicts the wrong way to wear them, even when going to the gym or while expecting.
A front wedgie is never attractive, or appropriate. If your leggings are hugging your lady bits a little too tightly, for the love, please do the world a favor and wear a top that covers that sh** up. If you refuse, and like the look of your private parts being showcased by spandex, be prepared for awkward conversations with and averted eyes from everyone you meet until you choose to stop the madness.
2 Hot: Effortless And On Point
The mom in the photo above has been captured by her adorable daughter as the young child snaps a selfie of herself and her gorgeous mom in a mirror. This mom’s bum is uncovered, which is considered by some to be a no-no when wearing leggings. Before anyone casts the first stone, we’d like to point out that she’s obviously in workout attire. Even Friedlander, fashion expert and hater of leggings, has proclaimed exercise is one instance in which it’s okay to don these controversial bottoms.
She looks effortless in her comfy white t-shirt and cute grey and pink leggings. It's pretty obvious that she's one of those women we all love to hate. She most likely looks hot no matter what she’s wearing, but she’s keeping it classy by pairing her body-hugging pants with a not-so-form-fitting top.
The bottom line is, she looks great, and shouldn’t be ashamed of showing off the figure she’s obviously worked hard to maintain without going overboard. There is nothing more beautiful than a confidant woman, and it takes confidence to wear leggings, that’s for sure.
1 Not: Unprofessional Dress
It has now been firmly established that leggings that are any sort of a fleshy hue are better off being left in the dumpster. It doesn’t matter who you are: no one looks good in tan, peach or very light pink leggings. When a woman is wearing skin-toned leggings, the situation is only made worse when they are too thin, too tight and her buttocks and frontal areas remain exposed.
The woman in the photo above appears to be a Lowe’s employee. What does this mean? It means she selected the outfit she’s wearing as a good option of what to wear to her place of employment. If her vest or the shirt she’s wearing underneath it were just a bit longer, her error would not be quite so grave.
Unfortunately, what she’s wearing isn’t what is considered appropriate for any job, ever. Unless, of course, a person’s profession is a dancer in Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas show, "Zumanity."