If something is made of fabric and meant to cover my legs, I consider them pants. I’ve never subscribed to any of this “leggings aren’t pants” nonsense — as far as I’m concerned, they can be worn every day of the week and I would pass no judgment. This doesn’t mean that you should have a free-for-all when getting dressed, though. There are several hard and fast rules that should always be followed when determining exactly how to style your leggings as pants.
Consider the texture
I’ve seen so many incredible outfits that have fallen apart due to one simple thing: I could see straight through the opaque leggings the wearers haphazardly threw on before leaving the house. Sunlight is very different from the dim, indoor light used when getting dressed every morning, and it can be unforgiving. To make sure your undergarments stay completely invisible to the outside world, invest in a pair or two of leggings made out of a thicker material. Not only will you never have to worry about see-through pants again, but as a bonus, you’ll also be able to swing these into semi-formal territory with the right additional pieces.
Don’t overdo it
In terms of those massively adorable printed leggings that are showing up everywhere, you should exercise caution when it comes to planning the rest of your outfit. A foolproof formula is to pair the patterned bottoms with solid, neutral pieces on top. Anything much crazier and the outfit could appear much too busy, as well as mismatched and chaotic. Whether you’re into galaxy print, tribal-inspired patterns or comic book panels covering your legs, they all become wearable options if they are accompanied by a simple top.
Know when to say “no”
There’s nothing wrong with hiking up a pair of leggings for the day when you’re going to be in primarily casual situations, but veer into formal events and they should be avoided. There’s a heavy connotation between leggings and laziness in my mind, and when I see someone in a formal situation looking like they just walked out of yoga, I cringe internally. While dressy, skinny pants can be perfectly acceptable attire in times that call for formal wear, they are vastly different from the paper-thin leggings that have a price in the single digits from stores like Forever 21. If there’s even a hint of a question about whether or not your leggings are OK, they should just be avoided.
Classic always wins
When I’m at a loss for what to wear, I know I can always turn to my classic black leggings and easily build a great outfit with almost no effort. If I want to look sporty, I pair them with my favorite sneakers and a tank. If I want to look like the epitome of fall fashion, I throw on a cardigan, a gigantic scarf, some riding boots and call it a day. The options are virtually endless, and the results are often streamlined and look put together. There’s no downside, so go for it.
There’s no reason to wage a war against leggings when it’s perfectly acceptable to add them to your everyday wardrobe without committing any fashion faux pas.