Whether you’re a fashion girl or not, we can all agree that one wardrobe piece that anyone should have is a good pair of leggings. Often made with cotton, jersey, or spandex, to name a few, these “stretchy pants” provide the ultimate level of comfort, making it a great piece to wear for lounging around the house or for heading outside for quick errands. However, there’s much more sartorial potential to this cozy piece than meets the eye, and a quick fashion history lesson proves it:
A brief history of leggings
You’d be surprised to know that leggings aren’t a 21st-century innovation. The garment actually came about in 14th-century Scotland as something men could wear underneath their kilts, and the piece would be worn by men up until the 19th century when women adopted it.
Fast forward to the 20th century, American company DuPont created the very first lycra leggings in 1959 and changed the fashion game forever. Soon after, women started wearing the leggings as pants or wore them underneath mini skirts and dresses. They came in a bevy of colors and prints, too. Many women also wore them with button-downs and flats—a style equation that proved to withstand the test of time.
The leggings remained in the ‘70s as shiny, spandex iterations (like Sandy’s outfit in Grease). Women of the ‘80s embraced it, too, and you only need to look at Madonna’s Like a Virgin outfit for proof—she wore an indigo pair underneath a cutout dress. The ‘90s weren’t big on leggings, but the piece did make a comeback in the early 2000s, much to everyone’s resentment in retrospect. Leggings came in vibrant colors and were paired with mini skirts or denim skirts.
The leggings trend in 2020
The question is, are leggings still in style? The answer is definitely YES. Perhaps the leggings’ revival as a stylish piece can be credited to the athleisure movement which experienced a boom in 2015. Although athleisure has now become a fashion mainstay rather than a trend, leggings have surely evolved in the past few years.
Case in point: the Fall/Winter 2020 runways debuted glossy spandex leggings, as seen in Saint Laurent and Balmain. Back when physical fashion weeks were still in full swing, fashion influencers filled the streets wearing leggings with suit jackets and leather coats. But even for casualwear, fashionistas still love mixing a bit of athleisure and high fashion into their leggings outfits: think sneakers, cropped tops, and an oversized blazer.
What should you not wear with leggings?
Now that we’ve convinced you that leggings are still cool, you’re probably wondering if there are, well, not so cool ways to wear leggings. While leggings can be worn however you damn well please, there are some outfits that will make you look outdated. A great example of this would be the trends from the aforementioned early oughties: leggings under mini skirts or leggings are worn with tops that end at the hips.
Another thing to avoid would be frumpy footwear, like UGGs and old-fashioned mary janes. You also want to avoid wearing cropped tops, unless you’re going for an athleisure look. Why? Leggings, when worn as going-out clothes, look great with contrasting boxy oversized pieces, so it doesn’t look as flattering if you wear tiny tees.
How to wear leggings
Now that you’re well-briefed, here are 12 outfit ideas from your favorite local celebrities to help you get started on this undying trend: