Leggings have a second term for midlife women
In fashion everything old gets new again. You have heard that before, and in fashion over 40, we have seen some chic perennial or decadal trends. In the Eighties, leggings were a big thing. We wore them with the long blazers that were hip back then. We also paired our leggings with long sweaters that had these awkward shoulder pads. We styled the leggings with court pumps with a 2 inch (5 cm) heels. Jewelry-wise, we accessorized our leggings with oversize hoops when we wore the leggings with a blazer. We added studs plus a big statement necklace when wearing our leggings with a long sweater. We went for posh, chic, and professional on Casual Fridays, well as professional as one can be in leggings. 😉
In the aftermath, everything was oversize including the hair volume on the sides and/or on top of our heads. Recall those antenna bangs? I loved them, actually I still do. Even though Charla Krupp the author of How not to look old suggests to cut bangs to look younger, I meanwhile think that bangs only look great when you come from the hairdresser. A week or two later you have to go back to regain the great look.
Avoid these styling mistakes when wearing leggings in midlife
Back to the leggings. Now leggings are having a moment – again. Don’t make the mistake to even try to style your leggings the way you did in the Eighties. For one, this time around there are no mid-tight long blazers. Second, leggings are not pants. Thus, they are not meant to be worn with anything that does not cover the bum entirely except at the gym. 😉
Last time around, only leggings for the gym had prints. These leggings were made from some sort of lycra. This time around, non-lycra leggings have all kinds of prints and pattern including skulls, ikat, zigzag, florals, and horizontal stripes. Don’t go there. Here is why: Any horizontal lines visually broaden. This means your legs look wider than they actually are. Even worse, everything horizontal also visually shortens. Unless you have legs as long as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman, you most likely don’t want your legs to look shorter than they are. Overall, these horizontal pattern add pounds. Period.
If you go for a printed pair, avoid colors that are from all places of the color wheel. Leggings with a print in one color family are easier to style and pull off than overly colorful print leggings. The sunflower leggings shown in the styling examples work because the sunflowers are not brown plus green plus yellow, but in shades of an old black and white photo. These colors make the print look posh and chic even for women in midlife. See the post a the link for a review of these chic leggings.
Daring sequin leggings – think twice before you fork over the money
There are these sequin leggings. They are awesome. I love them <3 . Thus, I tried a black pair out. Big mistake! I rejected them immediately after I saw my reflection in the mirror. The sequins looked cheap giving me a trashy look. If you want to pull them off, make sure the sequins don’t look cheap. Moreover, wear them under a tight-long white oxford shirt or a leather dress with sandals for going out for dancing. Be aware that anything shiny visually adds pounds. There is hardly any other material that is as shiny as high quality sequins. Dark colors like black add less than gold, which adds less than silver. All other colors are kitschy.
To wear or not to wear leggings in midlife
Ask yourself whether your legs are your favorite body feature and whether you want them to be in the center of focus. If the answers are yes to both questions, try them on. Take selfies from all sides, ask a salesperson how many of them are available in your size. If the pair you tried on is the only pair left, ask them whether they can hold it for you for 24 hours. If you still love how you look in them after a night’s sleep when looking at the selfies, ask yourself whether the prize is worth the fun and what the cost per wear will be. If you are still ok with them, by all means go get them. In all other cases, skip this trend and save the money.
Muted or dark color leggings are most flattering in midlife
Speaking of color again. Do I have to mention that only storks and flamingos look great in fire-engine red legs, sand-hill cranes with bright yellow legs, ducks with Halloween orange legs? While a young woman gets forgiveness for legs in the color of crayons or even neon, we 40+ are expected to know better that leggings in these colors are never a great style even at the gym. They are just cute on little girls. Go for muted or dark colors. Recall that dark colors have a visually slimming effect, i.e. avoid to go for a light colors when your legs are on the heavy side.
Get the proportions right when wearing leggings
Be aware of the proportions. You certainly have heard to never pair something tight with something tight, or something slouchy with something slouchy. The first is a recipe to look trashy and cheap, the second to look frumpy. Both looks are not the style you are after. Thus, always pair your leggings with a top that is not tight.
However, don’t overdo it. The volume must stay in proportion. If you are pear or apple shaped with very slim legs you may end up looking top-heavy. Therefore don’t make the mistake to not have a top with you that you plan to wear with the leggings. Again take selfies from all sides to check the balance. If you like what you see, get the leggings.
Structure or knit pattern on leggings “add” pounds
There are also these leggings that have a knit structure. It is obvious that any structure adds pounds. These leggings need long lean legs. My main reasons to reject these coarse knit leggings is that the knit has a lot of see-thru, which is not a great style. These gaps caused by the loops of the knit are also a recipe for catching a cold when living in a climate where temperatures drop below freezing in winter.
Leggings the modern way
You can wear the leggings with a long cable-knit sweater and wool socks in the same or similar color like the sweater. Think of Annette Benning as Sydney Ellen Weight when watching TV with President Shepard at Camp David. It is a very classic weekend look. The shoulders should have no pads. No jewelry except some diamond or pearl studs – fake or not, it doesn’t matter.
Posh, chic and modern: Leggings with a long T-shirt
Another modern way to style leggings is to pair them with a long T-shirt under an open trench coat, again for a weekend look. Add pointy toe ballet flats, a long pendant necklace and a saddle bag or satchel. This look works best in neutral colors with a pop of color. Adding the pop of color is the easiest with the bag or shoes. The photo above shows an example wearing leggings under a cable-knit dress. The look is finished with pearls and pointy high heel toe pumps, read higher than the 2.5 inch (5 cm) of the Eighties.
Pro tip: Be aware that the point where your top (sweater, dress, tunic) ends automatically has a horizontal line. Ask yourself whether you want to draw attention to that part of the leg. If the answer is no, that top leggings combination is a mistake. Don’t wear it.
Do you have already a pair of leggings? If so, how do you style them? If not, are you planning to jump on the leggings band wagon? Did you wear the look back in the Eighties? Do you like the look? Did you like the trend back then? Let me know by sending me an email.
When you found this post helpful tweet your friends how to wear leggings over 40.
What I wore on Sunday
Now to the OOTD. It shows how to wear sequins in a casual way for staying warm. I wore this look for Sunday brunch.
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Photos: G. Kramm
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