Leggings have been around several times. Sure, they are comfy. And they are back again. This post answers the question how women over 40 can look lovely in leggings. Read how to style them to look posh, and how not to style them to avoid look old fashioned or like trying too hard.
- Leggings have come a long way
- Leggings in the 1980s
- From the gym to the street
- The second round never ended in Alaska
- Leggings styled for winter
- Summer style with leggings
- Why leggings remained an Interior Alaska favorite
- Cute Saturday Afternoon Cropped Leggings Outfit
- Leggings are a big trend right now
- Leggings at the gym
- Avoid These Styling Mistakes When Wearing Leggings over 50
- To Wear or Not to Wear Leggings in Midlife
- Muted or Dark Color Leggings Are Most Flattering
- Get the Proportions Right When Wearing Leggings
- Structure or Knit Pattern on Leggings “Add” Pounds
- Leggings the Modern Way
- Posh, Chic and Modern: Leggings with a Long T-shirt
- Wrapping up how to look lovely in leggings
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
Leggings have come a long way
When I was in High School, we wore leggings during PE. At that time, they were exclusively gym wear. And they were all black except for some expansive solid color one with a neon pink or neon yellow wide stripe on the side. You bought them in a store. There weren’t any print on demand designer leggings with crazy patterns or so.
Leggings in the 1980s
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.
From the Gym to the Street
Today we wear athleisure at work and play. It wasn’t before the 1980s that this leg-wear became day-wear. They were worn in a casual posh way with one of these super long blazer with wide shoulders and camisole plus high heels. The blazer covered our thighs. At that time, I was totally into that look. It was more comfortable than a pair of skinny jeans and looked polished nevertheless. Full disclosure: I still like the look, but unfortunately it’s so yesteryear today.
Like often in fashion, styles pop up again once in a while. And, yes you don’t wear them anymore the way you wore them the last time they were around.
The Second Round Never Ended in Alaska
Around 2010, leggings again became a trend beyond the gym. This time, global prints like ikat were It among young women. Mature women often preferred solid, dark pairs as they give the illusion of lean legs. Various brands offer good quality, cheap pairs in other fabric than lycra. Dressy options are twill and black denim leggings.When wearing leggings go for a dark, solid pair to create the illusion of lean legs. #leggings #styletip Click To Tweet
Stylist’s remark: When your torso is apple or inverted triangle shape go for a light color with your leggings and a dark color on top. This trick creates a more balanced look.
Leggings Styled for Winter
In Alaska, women started wearing them instead of their Alaska classic skinnies. Alaskan women have worn their leg-wear in winter instead of tights under their skirts or dresses, with a long sweater or instead of jeans under their kuspaks. The footwear can be anything from duck booties, over mukluks, or tall flat leather boots to lobben boots. Of course with insole and double wool socks. In the Interior, people learned to avoid cold feet at frigid temperatures.
Just another Alaska fun fact. At balls in winter, many women (including me) wear leggings under their dance gowns. See these awesome ball outfits worn in the cold of winter.
Summer Style with Leggings
In summer, Alaskan women wear their leggings with a flannel or sun-protective shirt or top and x-tra tuffs for fly-fishing and with flip-flops on their bikes, at the grocery store and farmers market. Those leggings with really crazy print patterns are among the Street Style favorites of the young women. Women our age don classic animal or global-inspired ethnic prints like paisley, Indian block print or ikat.
Why Leggings Remained an Interior Alaska Favorite
Interestingly, even when leggings weren’t It for a while, they stayed a favorite basic in dressing in the Interior. In contrast to skinnies, leggings permit a slightly thicker air layer between the skin and the fabric than skinnies do. An air layer of that thickness is too thin to allow air movement within the clothing like it occurs in straight or boot-cut jeans. Thus, in leggings, the air remains stagnant and acts as a good insulator.
On the contrary, the too thin air layer in skinnies permits heat conduction. Conduction is the process that causes the handle of an iron pan to get hot when frying despite of no contact with the fire. In case of skinnies, the body heat would be conducted (i.e. travel) thru the adjacent denim to the cool outside air.
A recipe to catch a cold!
In case of wide leg pants, air is moving in the legs with every step the wearer makes. Also warm (due to your body heat) air in the legs exchanges with cold air that enters at the open ankles. That area is what we call a cold bridge. Thus, many people pull the upper part of their socks over the pants’ legs. Doing so, cuts off the air exchange. Note that the air exchange means a constant loss of body heat. It’s all about thermal comfort in Alaska.
Cute Saturday Afternoon Cropped Leggings Outfit
This dress is very body conscious and requires shape wear underneath. I know, I know, not very weekend. But when you love the pressure of shape wear, it’s a Do. In this outfit, the knotted cardigan serves to
- defining the waist
- upping the style factor and
- as an easy way to carry it just in case it gets cool in the late afternoon.
Leggings Are a Big Trend Right Now
Especially, when staying at home. For this post, I styled the current leggings trend the Interior Alaska way with a sun-protective shirt and solid midnight color leggings in a denim inspired elastic fabric.
Leggings at the Gym
At the gym, leggings look best when you wear a top that covers your hips. See example photos below.
Avoid These Styling Mistakes When Wearing Leggings over 50
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. 😉 And even there, styling them in Bombshell sexy way is the way to go. And that’s not necessarily a look a you want to go for when you want to work out.
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, horizontal stripes and florals. … and designer leggings are printed on demand.
Don’t go for horizontal stripes. 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. Abstract prints are great on fishing apparel for outdoor activities.
Daring Sequin Leggings – Think Twice Before You Fork over the Money
There are these sequin leggings. They are awesome. I love them <3 . Therefore, 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. More on how to look ageless in sparkle.
To Wear or Not to Wear Leggings in Midlife
Can you wear leggings over 50? 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. When you still love how you look in them after a night’s sleep when looking at the selfies once more, ask yourself whether the prize is worth the fun, and what the cost per wear will be. Only 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
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+know better that legwear 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. Dressy twill leggings can even be styled office appropriate on Casual Friday. For long road trips a long slightly oversize sweater with a pair of dark wash jeggings make a comfortable, but stylish look.
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. More on cold gaps.
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 neutrals 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.
You can find more on how to look stunning in athleisure in the guide at the link.
Wrapping Up How to Look Lovely in Leggings
This post covered the history of the legging trends, how it was worn in different decades, how I wear the trend over 50 and how the trend is worn in Alaska. When you are interested in more tips and ideas see this guide on how to style athleisure at the link.
Please note that the looks in the above photo collage are not those we present in our posts. Therefore, to get more and see all outfit ideas on how to look lovely in your leggings over 40 visit the blogs of my fellow hostesses
Hilda Smith and
Thanks for stopping by and visiting the party.See these lovely leggings outfit ideas. #StylishMonday #linkup Click To Tweet
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