Please note that while I have included leggings in the pants section of this blog, I do not condone leggings being worn on their own as if they are a pair of pants in their own right. I don’t care how skinny you are, cover up a little bit please ladies.

AKA: sometimes they are called tights, but they aren’t the same thing

How to say it: as it looks

Traditional Features: 

body template

  • skin-tight
  • can be various lengths, but ankle length is most common
  • elasticised waistband
  • can have stirrups on the end
  • simple, flat silhouette
  • often high or natural waisted


…of the style: Not to be confused with tights which are thick, opaque stockings or pantyhose, leggings are tight-fitting pants usually made from a combination of polyester, lycra and cotton (sometimes also wool and silk are used) that come in various lengths and are usually worn under other pieces of clothing. They do not have feet, but are sometimes made with a stirrup.

Leggings have been worn as far back as the 13th Century in Europe, Scotland and America when they were two separate legs and worn mainly by men for warmth.

They first entered the fashion realm in the 1960s as a skin-tight version of capris and were worn with a wide belt and heels. However it wasn’t until the 1980s that leggings really hit the height of their popularity. Films like Flashdance introduced exercise and dance wear as everyday clothing and women such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Olivia Newton John ensured that the appealed to the masses. Leggings hit the streets paired with heels, off the shoulder crop tops and leg warmers.

Thankfully the trend, with its lycra bodysuits and sweat bands didn’t last long, but leggings survived and in the 1990s were worn with short skirts, baggy t-shirts, long shirts and dresses.

As the decade changed into the 2000s the style of the accompanying garments changed and changed again, but leggings stayed constant on the fashion landscape. Today they are still worn under skirts, dresses, tunics and shorts for extra coverage and warmth or purely as a means to create a certain ‘look’.

Available in every colour under the sun and whatever print is currently on trend, leggings are worn by every social group out there – from Goths to models, Tweens to fashionistas, and everyone in between. It’s not so much about the legging itself, but what you do with it that makes the difference.

…of the name: I could not find any documentation on where the term leggings originated. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they are skin-tight and show the whole shape of the wearers leg…

For more info on leggings try Wikipedia, History of Leggings or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

Random Facts

  • Fashion designer Patricia Field (of Sex and the City fame) claims to have invented the modern legging in the late 1970s/early 80s

21st Century Leggings

From capri length to the wet-look, leggings come in every shape and shade and are available from every brand from Chanel to Target.

asos dolce and gabbana

ASOS, Dolce and Gabbana

topshop helmut lang

Topshop, Helmut Lang


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