How to Wear Leggings: Are They Pants…or Not?

How to Wear Leggings: Are They Pants…or Not? | thegoodstuff

Source: Fabulous After 40

It’s a classic debate, hotly contested for what seems like forever (or at least since the 80s): Are leggings pants? Many women who have slipped on stretchy, skin-hugging, oh-so-comfortable leggings would love to tell you they are, but just as many others will declare it a cardinal fashion sin.

Need some more fashion advice to keep on top of the trends? Here’s how to wear jogger pants, 8 ways to wear white even after Labor Day, and our denim styling tips. Just remember, comfort and confidence are key!

If you’re on the fence about the great leggings debate, here are some occasions where it’s 100 percent appropriate to swap out sturdier fabrics like denim or wool for a pair of formfitting leggings:

  • Any type of physical activity
  • Lounging around the house
  • Traveling (comfort is key!)

On the flip side, here are some situations where leggings can be a serious fashion faux pas:

  • Professional settings
  • With a too-short top
  • Too-clingy or nearly see-through material
  • When they aren’t able to keep everything where it should be

That being said, there are exceptions to these rules! Here’s how to wear leggings and look fabulously fashionable doing it!

Leggings at work? You bet!

How to Wear Leggings: Are They Pants…or Not? | thegoodstuff


Lyssé Faux Leather Leggings from Nordstrom: $108

Leggings can be worn in a professional setting if they’re styled correctly. A long-length tunic, sweater, or dress shirt layered over leggings can easily portray a chic, polished vibe. A more luxe fabric like the faux leather of these leggings from Nordstrom can help up the style factor.

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As one happy customer noted, “They actually don’t seem like leggings at all; they are more like pants which is exactly why they’re amazing — especially since I’m not a leggings fan!” Just keep in mind that leggings are much more clingy than your typical work pants, so cover up from at least the mid-thigh to preserve your decency.

Leggings that look like pants

How to Wear Leggings: Are They Pants…or Not? | thegoodstuff

Mixit Corduroy Leggings from JCPenney: $23.80

If you’re not a fan of the legging/long shirt combo, leggings can be worn with shorter tops – provided they’re the right kind of legging. Many leggings actually have pant-like features, like corduroy leggings from JCPenney, which feature a faux fly and pockets but still offer all the comfort of your favorite stretchy pants.

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Leggings with pant-like details also make leggings more appropriate for all ages, as this customer commented: “Love these pants. Very comfortable and warm for winter. The thicker corduroy fabric helps make wearing a legging type pant feel more appropriate for a middle age woman.”

Invest in durable legging fabrics

How to Wear Leggings: Are They Pants…or Not? | thegoodstuff

Michael Kors Pull-On Leggings from Macy’s: $69.50

Because of their stretchy fabric and formfitting silhouette, leggings tend to wear out more quickly than other pants. If you spot a hole or notice the fabric is thinning, kiss those leggings goodbye.

Grab this pair of leggings (and maybe a few more) and save with Macy’s coupon codes.

Another option is to invest in a more durable pair of leggings, like this pair from Macy’s. Made from a thick cotton, polyester, and elastane blend, they’ll provide full coverage (and no Visible Panty Line or “VPL”) for many a wear.

Leggings come with “control tops”

How to Wear Leggings: Are They Pants…or Not? | thegoodstuff

Apt. 9 Tummy-Control Ponte Leggings from Kohl’s: $19.99

Finally, leggings have often been cited for lacking the structure of say, a pair of jeans. But designers have responded by releasing more “control top” styles of leggings for everything from fitness to work wear to jeggings (or “jean leggings”).

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These fabulously priced leggings from Kohl’s are made from ponte, a rayon, polyester, and spandex blend that’s a popular pick for leggings for its comfort and stretch. Tightly woven, this durable fabric is perfect for cooler weather and can help hold you in where you need it most — look for an extra wide waistband for a bit more tummy control.

The proof is in the reviews: “I love the way they feel as they are not thin like some other leggings. Love the tummy control as the waist is nice and high which you can’t see when wearing a long top with them.”

It would appear then, that leggings can be worn as pants, provided you pick the right style and fabric for your body type and situation. With hundreds of colors, patterns, fabrics, and cuts to choose from, there’s sure to be a pair of leggings that belongs in your wardrobe out there!


  • Linda Purcell

    Leggings and skinny pants should never be worn by chicks with chicken legs and square croches and old skinny women. If you do not have the proper physical build move on. I work with all men and believe me if you heard what they have to say you would ditch your leggings and skinny pants.

  • May Loo

    I live in a major Canadian city where the ‘high’ for a winter day can be in the -20 to -40C range. No way should ANY woman with common sense be wearing leggings on such winter days. Yet, many ‘fashionable’ (young) women do. Leggings are no more appropriate for a professional office than flip-flops. And they are NOT pants! If you’re price conscious (and I am), buy regular pants which can be worn year-round.

    • couponscom

      Hi May Loo,

      Oh wow, we can’t imagine wearing leggings on such a cold day! We hope those ladies are spending most of their time inside where it’s warm.

      It’s interesting to see the wide variety of ideas about what’s OK to wear to work nowadays. Some offices require their employees to dress for work every day, while others allow casual clothing all week long. We guess the lesson to learn is you should always ask your boss before showing up to to work in a casual outfit!

      Thanks so much for sharing with us!

    • May Loo

      The other faux pas I see a lot are men and women who wear parkas in the winter yet they won’t put their hoods up when it gets too cold. This winter has been warm for my part of western Canada, while winter never seems to end in the eastern provinces. I’m older and have conservative fashion sense, but I wonder what young women are told about office wear when I see some of them wearing short skirts with slits in the back. It is truly embarrassing to be walking behind such a woman and seeing her underwear. Also I see women who are oblivious to panty lines showing beneath their pants, leggings or dresses.

    • breanna

      Why should anyone care about panty lines? You know I’m wearing underwear, so what’s the big deal? Also, leggings are warm if you buy the right kind, sometimes warmer than jeans. Finally, hoods fly off when it’s windy and make it harder to see, so a hat and ear muffs are a much better option.

    • May Loo

      Leggings are okay in warmer weather but I’m talking cold as in -20-40 Celcius. As for hoods, my concern is for people who wear only a hooded coat and don’t bother to put up their hood and also are not wearing a hat or toque.

    • Teresa

      I never put up the hood on my coat, unless it is super windy- maybe you feel the cold more than most of us Northerners do.

    • breanna

      Oh ok, I was thinking more of like 1 or 2 degrees. Yeah in the freezing cold, leggings don’t work. I’ve never understood the hood thing either, but maybe they just don’t get cold either or something.

  • Charles

    As a man, I was happy to find this post. I cannot wait for women to start wearing pants again. We get it, they are comfy but we don’t go around wearing next to nothing. It started with the whole yoga craze that a lot of people forgot about a long time ago. People said, oh this is comfy, I’ll stop to the grocery store on my way back from my class, nobody will notice I’m wearing underpants, then lulu started selling 100$ pairs and women said.. Well If I’m paying this much for a pair of leggings I’m gonna wear them all the time..
    You go to your class, you change back to your normal clothes. Easy.

    And I know I am generalizing but sadly 98% of the leggings wearers fall into the “serious fashion faux pas” category. And I propose an addition to the list. -If they find themselves hugging your lady bits too snugly. Which often comes in pair with no.2, wearing a belly shirt.

  • Teresa

    I work in a Northern Canadian City where it is often -40 in the winter, and I love leggings in the winter. I wear them when work calls for a dress, because they are way warmer than pantyhose and fit well into my dress boots. As for whether they are pants or not – YES: Websters dictionary: Definition of pant. 1 : an outer garment covering each leg separately and usually extending from the waist to the ankle —usually used in plural.

    • couponscom

      Hi Teresa,

      Wow, we totally agree that leggings underneath a dress are a MUST for those cold winter days! And that Webster’s dictionary definition may have just put this discussion to rest. ;) Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!