Do you even leggings, bro?
April 13, 2015 5:18 AM   Subscribe

I want to get in on the leggings trend (seriously I would wear my snug yoga pants all day if I could get away with it) but I have never bought/worn/thought of how to wear them successfully. Anxious fashionable snowflakes within!

I'd like to wear leggings not just as casual wear but wear them well as for work (I work in an office as an admin assistant; we're not super dressy but business casual is discouraged), I just really don't know how. The reason why that is is because I am pretty busty around the boobular area, a squashy middle, and decent hips. I'm afraid of putting together an outfit where it looks like a tent over some leggings-clad long legs. I'd like to positively highlight the good bits whilst sneakily hiding the mentally troublesome bits. (If it helps, I'm 5'6" and about 155 pounds.) I also like wearing nice comfy boots with anything, but am down to explore flats, but not heels. Please don't make me wear heels.

Assume that I have a decent income, but live in Canada so any Canadian retailers will be A+++ for me, and preferably vegan, or at least not wool, silk, leather for anything. I've been fascinated with Lucy Bellwood's outfits drawings recently and would love to emulate her style in my everyday future fashion life. Dress me, MeFi ladies! Make me look as good as you!
posted by Kitteh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Lululemon wunder unders are very very flattering and In the winter you can find lots of thicker leggings that are good for the office.
posted by pairofshades at 5:21 AM on April 13, 2015

This is going to be too casual for you, but it has some interesting recommendations for leggings and you could switch the band t-shirt for a blouse, or try a fitted dress. I'm also all boobs and hips and no heels and I like jersey wrap dresses with a wide belt to hold the middle in or A-line dresses in non-stretch fabrics. Leggings fulfil the function of tights in these cases, really.
posted by corvine at 5:29 AM on April 13, 2015 [7 favorites]

Ballet flats, definitely.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:33 AM on April 13, 2015

Holy cow, corvine, I LOVE that link you posted (especially as I bike during the summer). I could get down with that for everyday wear, for sure. I have a couple of wrap dresses from Old Navy that are fine, but would love to know where to buy more because they're oddly hard to find.
posted by Kitteh at 5:41 AM on April 13, 2015

"we're not super dressy but business casual is discouraged"

I'm sorry, not sure leggings is going to work for you with that kind of policy. Leggings are just inherently casual. The only thing I can think of for that kind of office environment is to use them like tights under a dress and wear boots, but that sounds pretty laid back to me, especially with a no heels restrction. Or maybe you have an even more lax idea of business casual than I do.

If you get leather leggings you could maybe do something like this with an oversize shirt and really nice flats (those are Tabitha Simmons which, um, start at like $500), but leather leggings are 1) expensive and 2) not nearly as comfy as cotton ones if it's comfort you're after and 3) leather, breaking the vegan rule. But there are leather-look leggings out there as well.

(And on preview, personally, I find pointy flats more dressy than ballet flats and it IS possible to find comfy ones, I absolutely adore these ones I got from Mango which are dead ringers for Celine)
posted by like_neon at 5:46 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes, with your dress code caveats I'd steer you away from leggings and towards ponte pants, which are BASICALLY leggings with a little more pants-like detailing. Examples: 1, 2, 3

Not sure all of those ship to Canada, but you get the drift - you're looking for a soft, possibly pull-on pant that's as comfortable as leggings but is cut a little differently to avoid the "death grip on hips and butt" look you can get with leggings. "Ponte" is the magic keyword to use here with any retailer.

These are much easier to style in a business context. You can treat them more or less like regular slim-cut pants, which helps to avoid the "biollowy druid tunic over tights" look.
posted by superfluousm at 6:17 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

If I'm reading your question right that your office is on the dressier side of business casual, I think the closest you may be able to get is ponte knit pants in a slim or legging shape. Unless you wear them under a dress or tunic as described in the other answers, you're gonna need a pant with some kind of structural details - a real waistband, possibly a fly or pockets. Something like this might give you the comfort of leggings but the look of pants. Then you could pair it with a flowy top and a blazer. With some nice flats or boots and maybe jewelry if that's your thing, that could be work-appropriate.

And on preview, I see I'm beat to the ponte punch. lol.
posted by misskaz at 6:20 AM on April 13, 2015

Oh, and Betabrand has a lot of versions of what they call "Dress Pant Yoga Pants" like this that I haven't yet plunked down the $$ to try but seem pretty great. I know people who wear Betabrand stuff and they say it's very well made.
posted by misskaz at 6:31 AM on April 13, 2015

I wear leggings almost every day in the winter, usually with a dress, a cardigan, and knee-high boots. I have the best luck with dresses that are more structured on top and big and loose on the bottom. We're business-casual, too, but it's also sort of understood that you're going to layer in winter. I also can vouch for ponte pants! I pair those with a long tank top and a cardigan. Cardigans are amazing, they're like hoodies for grownups.
posted by almostmanda at 6:35 AM on April 13, 2015

Last threadsit for the rest of the day, promise: I am only one of three women in the office. The office manager is 24 and wears these slightly shiny black leggings with an arty drapey blouse, lots of jewelry and mega heels. But I am not 24 and veer towards monochrome in my work wear (I seem to wear the same pairs of black dress pants a lot because I am so staid in my workwear choices). I did just buy a pair of gray ponte pants from Old Navy and wowsers, those are comfy.

Again, I could probably wear nice leggings for work but again, at 38, I'd like nice-looking, comfy, and classic looks for them. Thanks for everything so far!
posted by Kitteh at 6:40 AM on April 13, 2015

I sneak yoga clothes into my casual work wardrobe on a near-daily basis, and I never wear leggings to the office unless I'm wearing them as tights, under a skirt and boots. They're on the same casualness level as yoga pants, maybe even a step down.

Jeggings or treggings are a good hedge if you want the comfort and profile of leggings, but still want to look like a pants-wearing adult. Look for very stretchy ones, preferably ones that you can pull on, but are decently thick and have real pockets. Wear them with long layers - open "waterfall" or "boyfriend" cardigans are both good - and flats. Think about creating long, lean lines to parallel your legs.

If you really, really want to try actual leggings without any pants-y detailing, the cardinal rule is to keep your butt covered at all times. Otherwise, the same rules apply as for skinny pants.

On preview: first, yes, look for ponte pants! "Ponte" is the magic word for anyone who wants to look nice at work but feel comfortable. Second, I have a pair of the Betabrand dress pant yoga pants and they're all right, but they're not really any better than ponte pants I've bought from Talbots or wherever.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:54 AM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

I just bought some Lisette so comfortable and flattering! If you are still in Kingston, there are a couple of stores there that sell them. Highly recommend.
posted by Snazzy67 at 6:57 AM on April 13, 2015

I work from home a lot and wish that jogging pants were acceptable office wear :( I also hate jeans because they are incrediby unflattering on me. I have quite a high (small in terms of bone structure, not in terms of bodyfat) waist but a flabby tummy and large bum and thighs. My go-to work uniform is leggings worn as tights with a dress over the top. Some of these are wrap style dresses with a fitted high-ish waist but swooshy skirt which disguises my bum and thigh. Others are more fitted around the thighs but with loose panels around my tummy. I then pair this with either a cardigan for casual office-wear (e.g. back-office, not seeing clients) or with a blazer/drapey jersey cardigan for when I need to look smarter. Leggins instead of tights means you can get away with slightly shorter dresses than you would otherwise. Hope that helps. This lady is rocking leggings with a wrap dress - though I tend to go ankle-length for smartness.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 7:07 AM on April 13, 2015

super cute hooded tunic dress, made in usa, comes in white and red as well
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:20 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ricki's seems to have some good leggings-but-not options at the moment, as does Reitman's. Leggings in prints that look like non-stretch material can look more like pants (they must also not be skin tight, of course). These two shops are my non-skinny-Canadian-lady workwear go-to spots.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2015

I wear leggings+dress or skirt to work a lot, but I would consider that look borderline business casual unless it's a nicer dress.

I will enthusiastically agree with the rec for ponte pants - I have these ones from Roots that are great.
posted by kyla at 7:36 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love my black skinny ponte pants. LOVE THEM. They are as comfortable as leggings, but these particular ones are bona fide pants, so they would be fine in a business environment.

I am petite, average weight, and apple shaped - my arms and legs are long and thin for my height, but I store all my weight around my midriff. So, tunics or dresses/skirts and leggings are a good look for me - the important thing is that I wear something that at least covers my butt, because leggings are not pants. A top layer that flows at least past my butt and skims my waist conceals my middle and shows off my legs. I will wear ballet flats, ankle boots, or, in fall/winter, regular boots, with this kind of outfit.

It depends on your office, but I think a dress/leggings combo could work if it's something crisp or structured, like a shirtdress, worn over thick good-quality leggings with sturdy flats (ballet or otherwise), and with quality accessories (jewelry, belt, scarf). What I see as "too casual for the office" or "too young" is a limp, viscose/rayon dress, often in a small print, worn over sheer, shiny, obviously from the dollar store leggings, and flimsy shoes or, worse, flip-flops. Think quality and structure.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 9:03 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

for leggings, since they're inherently casual, I sometimes like to go just slightly over-the-top of fancy with a dress, and then dress it down with the leggings and a cardigan.

something like this, with cropped leggings (my favourites are tarte or hue, you can often get tarte off hautelook or gilt for a good discount and hue are at the bay, and quite often, winners.)

it's not particularily comfortable though, honestly.

I find cropped leggings, combined with pointy toed flats (especially a d'orsay flat) to be pretty dressed-up looking. Something like this for the shoes.

I wear something like the post that corvine posted a lot of summer days, but subbing the t-shirt/hoodie combo for a nice flowy blouse (this kind of cut) and try to make my skirt not just jersey looking. pointy toed flats. NOT doc martens :P. add cardigan if chilly. (this is canada. add cardigan daily.) I would call this pretty business casual though, but to me your boss sounds business casual except for the heels I think. business-business is usually some kind of structured suit, and she hasn't got that going on.
posted by euphoria066 at 10:28 AM on April 13, 2015

You should totally look at Ureshii.
posted by bibliogrrl at 8:41 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

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