By Emily Farra. Photos: Courtesy; Indigital.tv.
Will athleisure ever die? From the looks of today’s headlines, the answer is no—at least not anytime soon. According to new retail data, leggings are outselling jeans at a rapid pace, which means you’ll be seeing a lot more Spandex this holiday season, and maybe fewer cropped flares.
Before you bemoan the death of style, know that the “leggings” category is pretty varied, from Lululemon yoga leggings to plain cotton leggings and haute designer styles. The Row has been selling a pair of $450 leggings for years, offering them as a foundation for the brand’s very oversize knits and caftans. Demna Gvasalia’s first Balenciaga collection was lauded for its stretchy stirrup pants—an ’80s take on the legging—and this season, he took it a step further with legging-boot hybrids in neon colors. In the front rows at the Spring ’17 shows we saw lots of editors test-driving Céline’s new snap-front leggings under tunics and boxy jackets. They looked chic—and comfy, too.
But do leggings belong in an office, even if they’ve been on the runway? Vogue.com editors have mixed feelings. “Is your office a yoga studio? No? Then no,” says contributor Maya Singer. “Only if you wear them with Uggs and a pink velour Juicy Couture zip-up—on Halloween,” Steff Yotka adds. Fashion News Editor Alessandra Codinha is okay with leggings if they’re paired with a long, hip-covering top, but even then, she says: “I feel like people need to be reminded that there are comfortable pants out there, too. Shop around! Expand your horizons! Expand your pant legs! It’s a whole new world!”
Other editors are confidently pro-legging, but with a few stipulations. “The answer is always yes, but it has to be the right legging,” Style Editor Edward Barsamian says. “It has to fit and slightly sculpt so that it creates a great silhouette. I wear versions from Alaïa and Zara in all colors with mandarin collar tunics, slouchy knits, and oversize sweatshirts.” For Vogue.com’s Living Editor, Virginia Van Zanten, leggings are simply practical. “As a woman who is seven-and-a-half months pregnant, I want nothing more than to be able to come to work in a great pair of comfortable black leggings, rather than staring at a closet full of pre-pregnancy pants, trying to figure out which ones I can jury-rig with a belly band.” Chelsea Zalopany, Vogue.com’s Market Editor, also knows a thing or two about office-appropriate leggings: “I wore a pair of Victoria’s Secret stirrup leggings yesterday!” she says. “I paired them with Miu Miu secretary-style pointy flats and a striped silk chemise—probably my favorite look of the week. If you can reimagine leggings in a fashion context, then yes, wear them. But if your intention is solely comfort and you look like you’re frumping through errands, then leggings are not a great idea.”
In other words: Pulling off the look requires some thoughtful styling, a little irony, and a good dose of self-awareness. Here’s my “pro” argument: What else are you going to wear with fall’s giant puffers and pouf-sleeve sweaters? Certainly not the wide-leg jeans in your closet; you need something slimmer to balance it all out. And if your leggings come in a luxurious, opaque fabric, they might just be chicer than skinny jeans.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
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