How Old is Too Old for Leggings?

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Older woman wearing leggings

This article was originally written in 2008 and rewritten in 2018.

Dear Budget Fashionista,

How old is too old to wear leggings? I recently found some cute babydoll tops at Kohl’s that would look great with them, but I feel like leggings would be trying way too hard. Plus I’m carrying some extra pounds! Any advice?

You hear all kinds of opinions thrown around about leggings. They shouldn’t be worn as pants. People of a certain age shouldn’t wear them. The truth is that leggings are fabulous largely because they’re so versatile, universally appealing, and appropriate for people of all ages. We all want to be comfortable, so it only makes sense!

The Rules of Wearing Leggings

That said, there are some basic tenets that apply to everyday wear, particularly if you want to pull them off without a second thought — just as you would, say, your favorite pair of jeans. So what’s the best way to wear these wardrobe essentials?

Consider the Season

Consider the season first. They’re natural fall and winter contenders because they pair so well with cold-weather basics, like long cardigans, sweaters, and coats. You can easily layer any of these over your leggings, slip into a pair of boots, and look phenomenal from head to toe.

Go for Balance

The trick is to wear a longer silhouette on top to establish some balance. This not only visually elongates your figure, but also conceals any areas of the body that you might feel uncomfortable showing. Remember that leggings naturally conform to your shape!

If you’re wearing leggings in spring or summer, an airy dress belted at the waist is a great choice that is both flattering and proportionate. A pair of cute ballet flats finishes up this outfit nicely. Avoid anything too long, or you may risk appearing frumpy. Something that falls below the hips is just right.

There’s Always the Tunic

Tunics also complement leggings well, because their loose, relaxed silhouette contrasts perfectly with the sleeker fit on the bottom. Depending on the length of the babydoll, you may be able to pull that off — just opt for a lean length.

You may be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless choices available when you first start shopping for leggings. There are all kinds of designs available — from cutouts to metallics, nothing is off limits. For the mature woman who wants something understated, however, it’s best to opt for neutral shades that will partner well with existing items in your closet. Black, gray, brown, and navy are all excellent choices.

If you want to branch out, don’t shy away from something with a pattern. Just be sure to wear your leggings with a neutral top so one doesn’t compete with the other.

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By Tanya

Tanya is a seasoned journalist based in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Specializing in fashion, beauty, and travel, she loves to explore new places, read as much as possible, and scour the web for fabulous finds — all in the name of research, of course.