Are You Too Old for Leggings?

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are you too old for leggingsRecently I was having a conversation with someone who asked if leggings were still ‘in’ and if they were too old to wear them.

My reply was that they are still around (looking at the Fall 2009 fashion shows they were everywhere on the runway)  and are generally more flattering than a lot of the bright coloured tights that are currently out in the marketplace, as leggings tend to be black (though you can get all sorts of colours and patterns), so draw less attention to your legs than a hot pink pair of tights.
Also, they’re a great option when the weather is a bit cooler in the morning, and you may want to wear a skirt or dress with a ballet flat, peep toe or even sling backs, as they give you the option to take them off easily if the weather gets too warm during the day.
I do admit to wearing them – in fact, here I am in a pair – just a supermarket brand from the hosiery section (Razzamatazz for all the Aussie readers), which have a great little stripe detail at the ankle which I like.
They can add some extra coverage to a skirt or dress that’s a little on the short side, or just warmth to your legs if you need it.  They also create a longer flattering line from the end of your skirt hem lower down your leg that can visually elongate your legs.
My caveat to leggings is – they are NOT a substitute for pants or a skirt, but hosiery.  Do not wear them with just a t-shirt or top – you look like you forgot to finish getting dressed.
Want some more inspiration on how to wear leggings:
Do you wear leggings?  Is there an age limit to them?

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22 Comments

  • I don’t wear leggings now, although I did when I was younger and slimmer and they still looked terrible! I think leggings are a tricky look to carry off, and I wouldn’t have the confidence to try them again. My daughters wear them under shorts and skirts and look very cute, but they are only 9 and 12 years old!

  • I certainly wear leggings, as I ride my bicycle everywhere from early spring to late autumn every day, here in Montréal and often when working in Europe. They are essential on cooler days, and for changing weather, and are a great solution if it rains (take an extra pair in saddlebags). NotSupermum, those horrid waterproof over-trousers would be far more difficult to carry off (wouldn’t be caught dead with them in town). I’m not young, nor particularly slim, but Idon’t find them such a difficult look if in black and paired with the right skirt. They have an artsy look that corresponds to my field of work and look.

    If you cycle to work and work in a more conservative business setting, they are easily removed, substituting sheer hose or nothing, depending on your business and the weather.

    Lots of women of all ages wear them here in Montréal, where there are a lot of people who cycle as a means of transport, in urban clothing.

    Yes, wearing them with nothing older looks very tacky, either “don’t care” or lower echelons of sexworkers. I’ve seen some horrors of cellulite in the latter look, on women a generation younger than I am.

    Imogen, I also appreciate the time it takes you to do this blog in your busy schedule, and I’m sure many readers do.

  • I’m a recent convert to leggings and ADORE them. I completely agree that they are no substitute for pants, thought! As for age limit … I don’t think so. There are ways to style them that are appropriate for every age group.

  • i couldn’t agree more, leggings are no substitute for pants. the other day i saw a girl wearing what appeared to be semi-sheer tights with a cropped shirt, i could not believe my eyes! haha.

    i love your monochromatic tights look, perfect for any age.

  • I second lagatta, again, about their use. And add, keep shoes stylish (or have second pair when you hop off the bike). Legging with running shoes, yuck! Leggings are hosiery or in the heaviest variety, activewear to be worn only in the gym.

    Liquid look leggings look indescribably tacky to me, but they’re huge with tweens and teens here.

  • I think leggings as workout gear is the exception to the rule of not wearing leggings as trousers. However, I’m not built for leggings for anything outside of the gym.

  • I’m 43 and a mom of two little ones, and find my go-to outfit consists of leggings (either calf or ankle length, black or gray) and a tunic or dress of appropriate length. Shoes depend on season (sandals, boots).

    Easy to get dressed, looks put together, comfy, and I don’t flash anyone while running after my kids!

  • I’ve recently grown to love wearing leggings. At first, I was afraid that they would make me look like a teenager. But I think it’s really just a matter of how you style them. I love the variety they add give to my wardrobe.

  • I,m not sure if I like leggings or not. On some people they seem ok, but I have seen more than my share of cases, where they just look too funny, maybe even sad. Leggings and ballerinas- I think I´d even walk like a duck. They do look nice on you, Imogen !

  • notSupermum – I wouldn’t be wearing short skirts at my age!

    Lagatta – I’d never thought about them as something to wear riding a bike (don’t do so much of that anymore with 2 small kids to drag around with me). Thanks so much for your compliment and reading my blog!

    Sal – what sort of shoes do you wear them with?

    Budget Babe – I do wonder if these people who wear them out look in the mirror before they leave home?

    Duchesse – I’m so with you on the ‘liquid’ ones.

    Gina – if you wear tights, you can wear leggings, you just may want to keep them dark, matte and under a longer skirt.

    Cciele – great everyday outfit – and so much more stylish than a tracksuit!

    Diana – it’s great not to be frightened of a trend that seems young, but once you work out how to wear it age appropriately it can expand your wardrobe and style.

    Metscan – only if your feet turn out!

  • The only time I DARE wear any type of legging would be for exercise only. They are certainly not for me any other time. Yours look cute on you…thanks for clarifying that they are not to be worn as pants as I see so many do that have NO business doing so!

  • Imogen, OMG I haven’t been here in a while, I am missing out. Love your posts. And I wear leggings but just as you’ve described. The only way you can get away with not wearing them with a skirt is if you’re 19.

  • I’m in the ‘not quite sure’ camp. I do have some, and I have worn them with shorter dresses that I’d certainly never wear without tights – I think the leggings look less formal/wintery than tights. But then I’m also conscious of the ‘duck’ look metscan mentioned, especially as I generally wear flat shoes … Next question – if you’re over 40, can you wear Converse sneakers (to a kids’ soccer game, for instance) without looking tragic?!

  • Renae – I love that there is a whole blog devoted to this issue!

    Maria – I’m not sure how many 19 year olds can get away with wearing them without a skirt either – I think it’s the kind of thing they’ll look back at photos in years to come and wonder why they forgot to put their skirt on!

    Tiffany – Converse – if they are your personality you can wear them with jeans, if you feel like a fraud in them, then don’t go there!

  • Btw, Imogen, I was actually today looking for socks and then somehow I had a pair of Wolford deep plum colored velvet leggings in my hand. The color appeared so nice, that I just had to buy them. I don´t know yet where and how I could wear them, but I´ll give them a try anyway.

  • No leggings for me. But, I do envy gals who look good enough in yoga pants to run into Starbucks and get a quick coffee.

  • Oh, no not as pants! Even my 15yo dd commented how bad they look and should not be worn that way. Personally (at 51) I don’t feel comfortable in them even with a skirt. Looks too try hard.
    Yesterday I saw a larger lady walking through Eastland leaning over a trolley and even though she had on tracky dacks they showed every dimple that she possessed. They even when up the nether regions(top was short). I think if she was naked it could not have been more revealing. Moral? ALWAYS check back view before leaving house!!
    BTW, what are your thoughts on the patterned tights? I have a couple of pairs of very subtle pattern but all one colour – brown and aubergine.

  • I can’t seem to wear them. I have this thing about the visual horizontal that they create that make me feel like I look short and stumpy. Though there was a recent legging post on youlookfab that showed a long stirrup legging that went down to mid foot. Then I think I would feel like why don’t I just wear tights.

    People that wear them and look edgy and it is fine if they don’t mind it. I don’t think there is an age limit on it though.

  • You look wonderful in yours, Imogen. I love the stripe detail!

    I am nervously/cautiously trying them for the first time. They are definitely comfortable, but it’s taking a while to adjust to myself in the look. I can’t help thinking that I am visually shortening my leg line in the same way that people do when they wear skinny ankle pants or mid-calf clamdiggers (as opposed to clams that are at or just below knee length.)

    I do think I will stock up on a longer pair of comfortable leggings in preparation for next Fall/Winter, too – I get *so* cold and I can’t help but think of how long leggings would keep me warm under my dress trousers.

  • I was always too nervous to try them but now you've given me the courage (and know-how) to give them a shot. As a tall woman, I find that many adorable dresses are simply too short on me and pairing them with leggings might allow me to wear them anyway. Your instructions and ideas are always so clear and concise; THANK YOU.

    And I must admit, if I had legs and a butt like the woman with the gold bag, I'd be tempted to wear them as pants, too : )

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