Monday, October 12, 2009

Fashion Q&A: Leggings age limit?

A reader recently wrote asking for advice:

"I am almost 55 and wondering if leggings are appropriate for women my age? I think they are cute and looks like they would keep your legs warm! I don't want to wear something that makes me look like I'm TRYING to look too young."

I too love leggings. And I also wonder if they are appropriate (I'm in my mid-30s). My answer for both of us is yes, but that's a yes with an *. By styling them and accessorizing properly, you can make leggings look very adult. Here are a few tips:

  • Knit leggings are technically pants, but unless you are a toothpick or under the age of 18, think of them more as tights and dress accordingly. Go ahead and use Lindsay Lohan and Lady Ga-Ga as examples of what not to do when it comes to tights abuse or skipping pants all together.

  • Pair leggings with tunic-type tops that hit your leg between your upper knee and mid-thigh. Wear leggings under a dress (nothing longer than mid-knee).

  • Chose full-length (to the ankle) leggings rather than cropped.

  • Leggings worn with a high-heeled boot or shoe can lengthen the leg, especially when when done in monochrome. You can't go wrong with black leggings. You can go wrong with patterns and bright colors. Be mindful.

  • The higher the heel you wear with leggings, the more sophisticated your look will be. That's not to say you need to sacrifice comfort for style: instead of ballet flats with leggings (which is cute), swap in a pair of riding boots. Instant chic.

  • Regardless of age, resist the urge to wear leggings with athletic shoes/gear. This is not 1984, and despite the ripped sweatshirts making the rounds, you are not in the movie "Flashdance" or a Jane Fonda workout video.

  • If you've got ample hips or behind, you can still make leggings work, but you need to watch with what you pair them. As Tim Gunn says, focus on fit. Do not wear leggings with a body-hugging top or sweater unless you want to draw attention to your backside. Instead, work with the boxy-big-shouldered '80s vibe right now. An oversized black jacket adds a stylish layer to leggings and a kicky dress.

    Suggestions? Thoughts? Let's hear 'em!


  1. Years ago, my mother told me that if you're young enough to wear a fashion the FIRST time it comes around, you're too old to wear it the NEXT time it comes around. Still, I am tempted by leggings too, and Rachel, you've given me some tips on ways to wear it that update the look. Thanks!

  2. That is some bad advice you are handing out! Unless you are a model or a high school student, leggings are OUT! Sorry, 55, no way, and you mid-30's, shouldn't even be thinking about it either.

    1. I agree! Leggings do not belong in the work place!

    2. That is bs, my GRANDMA wear leggings appropriately and she is the foxiest woman I know! Also I'm in my late 20s and look fabulous and I am way more comfortable than you will ever be when I wear leggings so Go poop yourself.

  3. I so disagree. I'm 40 and wear leggings. Of course, my body is conducive to wearing a figure hugging garment, regardless of my age. It's all in how you wear it and what you wear with them. I personally prefer a capri length with heels.

  4. My advice is apply restraint when choosing the garment and add tons of confidence then proceed

  5. Leggings, fingerless gloves, shoulder pads from hell and, wait for it . . . big hair and heavy eye make up are all TRENDS again. My friends in Manhattan are all "rockin' the 80s/Flashdance look" and they love it.
    No matter who you are or what your size leggings should always be worn with a top piece that covers your butt, and matching leggings to shoes or boot color definitley makes you look taller, even if you don't look slimmer.