by Ellen Caldwell-Ng
Fifty, they say, is the new 40. However, the older we get the more comfortable we desire to be in our clothing. We become more confident and comfortable with ourselves as we age (one of the great positives of aging). We opt out of itchy, binding clothes and pinching shoes. We opt in to being comfortable, classy, yet modern and up-to-date. Comfort becomes paramount so we can fully enjoy life.
One thing I frequently hear from my female clients over 50 is “I really like leggings. They seem so comfy. I wore them in the 80’s. Am I too old to wear them now?” My answer is always a resounding “No! It’s not about how old you are. It’s all in how you style them.” Leggings are thicker than tights and are a great option for Fall. They are warm and give good leg coverage (and no one knows if you shaved or not. How is that for a positive?). So, whether you are just now embracing the legging trend or an experienced legging wearer, here are some guidelines to help you along the way:
~ Leggings are not pants:
I just gotta get this out of the way, because I see it all over the place and it’s just plain wrong!! Although leggings look like pants – they are NOT pants! Wearing leggings as trousers is not a classy look at any age, but it certainly is not a good look as we age, when our “bits” may be a little wigglier than in past years. So, Ladies, the first rule is to always wear a top that covers your “coochie and your bootie.” That means tunics, long drapey sweaters, long jackets, or even a short dress. All of the tops in these pictures work beautifully.
~ Wear quality leggings:
Leggings come in a variety of lengths and fabrics and qualities. A knee length legging will flatter muscular calves. Capri leggings reach to the mid-length and flatter slimmer-legged wearers. Full-length leggings are universally flattering. So, choose full-length if you are unsure or are a beginner legging-wearer.
Most leggings contain some spandex and come in cotton, silk, wool blends. A thicker Ponte knit will give you the most coverage as well as comfort. Black or dark colored leggings are most slimming, coordinate with a wider variety of clothes and create a sophisticate look. Lighter and boldly printed tights are fun. They draw attention to the lower half of your body. So, if you have heavier thighs steer clear of light colored and printed tights. After wearing both cheap and expensive leggings, I can tell you, you want to opt for a more expensive, well-made pair that will hold its shape and provide thicker coverage (so your polka dot undies don’t show through when you bend over) If after reading all this and you are still unsure about leggings, then you can try Jeggings, which are merely a cross between jeans and leggings. They give you even more coverage.
~ What about shoes?
Okay, so you have the top and the leggings, but what kind of shoes? You really do have a lot of choices. My favorite is the boot. You can do a tall over-the-knee boot, a regular tall boot, a mid-calf (as Kim is wearing in the picture above) or even a bootie. You also can do a shootie (a blend of a shoe and a bootie, which can be really sexy), a heel or even flats. My favorite is a riding boot. Riding boots are classic and comfy and make leggings look sophisticated. A couple pieces of advice here:
a) If trying to look sophisticated, steer clear of stilettos, especially when it comes to over-the-knee boots.
b) If you are trying to create a long, lean silhouette then choose shoes in the same color as your leggings.
~ And what about us Curvy Gals?
Dressing well is about illuminating assets and camouflaging “challenges.” Women with slender, shapely legs who want to conceal a tummy are naturals for leggings. However, curvier, fuller-thighed women can also wear leggings. If this is you, select a longer top with shaping (a top that comes in a little at the waist). A tunic that stops at the fullest part of the thigh creates a horizontal line across one of the widest parts of your body, drawing unwanted attention there. So, instead choose dark colored leggings and a tunic, top or dress that comes down past the fullest part of the thighs; one that has a little shaping at the waist or detail around the neckline to draw attention upward to your face.
Use jackets and cardigans to create shape if you are wearing a billowy tunic. Use scarves, layering chains and pendants to add polish.
Okay, so that’s legging-wearing made simple!
It’s easy as 1-2-3! 1) Buy good quality leggings in a fit that is flattering. 2) Wear a long top that covers the “goodies” and 3) Accessorize! Wear scarves, jackets and the right shoes for a sophisticated, complete look.
E Caldwell & Associates
Owner and Image Consultant
Independent CAbi Consultant