How to choose the right leggings

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 83 Comments

Oh HELLO. The temperatures have dropped. Even here in Queensland.

It’s 10 degrees this morning, Stylers.

In May.

Luckily I’ve re-edited my wardrobe in advance of this chilly situation.

It’s almost time to rest the razor blade and take advantage of the fact that my legs will be covered until September (except for that bit where I’m spending three weeks in a European summer).

What I cover said legs with is a rotating combination of jeans and leggings, jeggings or ponte pants.

And it seems it’s a fashion topic that many are keen to dissect and discuss too.

Here are just three of the emails I’ve received of late asking for advice on how to choose the right leggings … or jeggings.

Everyday Cashmere shrug | Bella Bodies tank | Sacha Drake pants | FRANKiE4 Footwear boots |

Everyday Cashmere shrug | Bella Bodies tank | Sacha Drake pants | FRANKiE4 Footwear boots 

Style questions

Wondering if you can make a few suggestions for stockists with good leggings for my size 16 pins. The weather is finally cooling down here on the Gold Coast and I need a few pairs to wear under my winter dresses. Joanne

Just a quick one, you may have already written an article on black leggings, but I need to get some and don’t know where to start! I have tried heaps and they all seem to fade, stretch, are way too long (I’m only 5ft) and I’m don’t want to keep spending money on crappy purchases! Where do I get nice, black leggings that are not going to fade, can be worn under tunics and winter dresses (I live in Melbourne) and aren’t see through? Amy

I’m a mum of two young children and like many  mums have a bit of a small baby belly “overhang” this means jeans are not my friend. Coming into winter I was wondering what your thoughts are on jeggings or pull-on jeans with no zip etc? And what about ponte pants? I’ve never purchased any before do would love your thoughts on them and how to wear them. Bethany

Sacha Drake pants | Bohemian Traders top and vest |

Sacha Drake pants | Bohemian Traders top and vest 

What’s the difference?

Before I tackle the specifics, I’ll give a run down of the difference between the pants in this category.

Footless tights: these are generally found in the hosiery section of a store and are generally a thicker denier than a pair of stockings but less than a legging made from a stretch fabric. Look for a denier of 50 or above to avoid losing the desired opaque effect when wearing.

Shop Bella Bodies Camyz black leggings at the Styling You Shop.

Leggings: Leggings are usually the same shape as a pair of footless tights but the difference is in the fabric from which they’re made. Good quality leggings are made from modal, viscose or a thick poly spandex mix.

Shop wYse leggings – 3/4 leggings or full-length

Jeggings: Typically jeggings are either made from a denim or stretch denim or heavy cotton material and/or include a zip at the front.

Shop Blue Illusion skinny leg bengajean OR Sacha Drake black skinny pants in the Styling You Shop

Ponte pants: Consider ponte pants leggings but ramped up a notch in the thickness department. This extra thickness means legs are better covered and supported. They will also be warmer.

Shop Sussan for ponte leggings

Sacha Drake shirt | Sacha Drake pants | Louenhide bag |

Sacha Drake shirtSacha Drake pants | Louenhide bag

Style tips

1. Leggings are not pants. Let’s get that number one rule out of the way, shall we? The key with wearing all of the above – except for a zippered jegging – is that your front and back bottoms should be covered with the top or tunic that you’re wearing.

2. Always buy this style of pant so that they are super firm. Because of the amount of stretch in the fabric, they will easily become saggy and baggy within no time of wearing if you don’t start with super firm.

3. Always choose a legging, jegging or ponte pant in a skinny leg fit. This is the most flattering style as the pant length ends at the ankle, the slimmest part of the leg.

4. Team your leggings with a tunic or longer shirt … but not too long. This look is all about the legs. Look for tops or tunics that fall between the top of the hips and mid-thighs for the most flattering look.

Bohemian Traders dress and vest | Bella Bodies leggings | FRANKiE4 Footwear boots |

Bohemian Traders dress and vest | Bella Bodies leggings

5. This style of pant works so well with ankle boots, ballet flats or sport luxe sneakers. The attention is already on the ankle so reinforce that. Having said that, knee-high boots and tights and a tunic is also a fabulous winter look.

6. Layer the base look of leggings and shirt/tunic to suit the temperature.  This is what makes this look so versatile from autumn through to spring. Cooler mornings or evenings can include a long-line cardi or coat and you can peel off during the day if needed but still have a complete outfit.

7. Buy the best your budget can afford in any of these categories. The wYse leggings I’ve linked to above I’ve owned for about five years and they still look as good as new and haven’t faded. They cost about $80 at the time (so cheaper than now) but have proved to be a very good wardrobe investment.

8. The leggings look is all about comfort and style. Whether you’re travelling, pregnant, in the post-pregnant months or just wanting a streamlined pant that feels good on all day long, this is the style for you.

Bohemian Traders dress and anorak | Bella Bodies leggings | FRANKiE4 Footwear sneakers |

Bohemian Traders dress and anorak | Bella Bodies leggings | FRANKiE4 Footwear sneakers

So tell me, would I find leggings, jeggings or ponte pants in your wardrobe? What brands and styles have been a winner for you?

Comments 83

  1. Would you believe it is cold in Townsville today?!? Yes, so I have come to seek guidance from the Oracle named Nikki. And I just read this and laughed and laughed – thankyou Nikki!!! (apart from hiding any possible camel toe sightings … this is not a wildlife safari Stylers)

  2. Inspired by your post I went and bought a pair of ponte slim fit pants from Sussan. So comfortable… so warm. They feel like pyjamas. I’m going back to buy another pair in a different colour.

  3. I am not a great fan of leggings for some reason but have recently bought some great ponte pants from Glassons. I am vertically challenged but resigned to taking all pants to the tailors – something you can do with ponte pants but not most leggings… I have found some great tunics at Ezibuy and have found that as long as they finish above the knee with ponte pants underneath they make me look taller and slimmer

  4. What the heck are treggings? I had to Google that one … they are a cross between leggings and trousers. A hybrid, if you will. Treggings are formfitting from the thighs to the legs, but are more structured on top and often have a zipper.

  5. I have same issues as those who wrote in, itis hard to find good quality leggings that are the right length nd don’t sag. So this will be very helpful! Also amen to leggings are not pants! 🙂

  6. Leggings are NOT pants AMEN! I’ve got the whole gang in my robe. I am partial to a Ponte pant especially with a wide waist band- great for EAT-A-THONS or travelling. Because of my job- I”m loving that a lot of the activewear brands are doing a stylish workout to “running errands” legging. I’ve probably got seventy billion at the moment LOL- love Running Bare/Adidas/Nike/Lululemon/Lorna Jane!

  7. I had no idea there was a right way/wrong way to chose leggings etc but after reading your guide and checking my wardrobe, there clearly is! Big clear out of the wrinkly, saggy and just plain sad completed and a big thanks to you & others for suggestions. I only have one question….what else can I wear?
    I am lucky to say I have reasonably good legs for a “woman of a certain age” but my torso is well, one great muffin. A muffin with no hips or bottom. I’m a muffin on legs. How can I achieve a stylish casual and/or dressy look without looking frumpy?

  8. But, please oh please, do tell, where are the lace up style black shoes from that you wear with the Sacha Drake pants and Bohemian Traders tops / vest?

    1. whoops…I meant opaque tights- good to wear with a dress and ankle boots. For jeggings, can’t go past Country Road.

  9. I have a pair of leggings, size 16, from last season Target. They are like an opaque tight but thicker. They have a good thick waist band (without being restrictive or muffin top-py) that sucks in the tummy and a special ‘seam” in the bum area to give a big of shape… I surely hope they have them this year! I have a very similar pair from Crossroads – again like an opaque tight but thicker so they look more dressy….this might help someone!

    1. I should add, the Crossroads ones I have had for at least 3 years and no sign of fading or wear and tear. The Target ones since last July are the same. May it is the material, but sure beats my $12 Boohoo leggings that now resemble baggy trakky daks!!

  10. I have a pair of leggings, size 16, from last season Target. They are like an opaque tight but thicker. They have a good thick waist band (without being restrictive or muffin top-py) that sucks in the tummy and a special ‘seam” in the bum area to give a big of shape… I surely hope they have them this year! I have a very similar pair from Crossroads – again like an opaque tight but thicker so they look more dressy….this might help someone!

  11. I lived in them post pregnancy and when my kids were little – the fashion was bootleg ponte pant then! I had some high waisted slim fit ones from Scanlan & Theodore back in the 90s! Maybe should try the slim leg ones again with the ankle boots…

  12. Hi Nikki, I’ve been oving all your recent How To posts – so many great ideas. Was inspired to try on a nearly-red Chubby lipstick today!! You will find CR jeggings in my wardrobe – I’d love to be able to do the tunic and leggings thing but I’m just too vertically challenged! – so I do jeggings so it’s okay if my front bottom’s not covered and wear a long-line CR cardi on top if I’m doing a heal (ankle or long boots), otherwise a cropped or hip length jacket. I’m going to look into Metalicus leggings for under their dresses though – It’s getting chilly down here! 10 deg? Ha! I’m about to light the fire! xx

  13. It took me a long time to go for leggings as a pant option (under a tunic top or long knit, of course!) despite wearing them under dresses for years and it has quickly become my casual cool weather uniform! Much more flattering than thick trackies. For the post-preg shorties like me, I recommend ASOS Petites High Waisted leggings, they’re about $15 and fit really nicely. Jeggings are an absolute godsend as well!

  14. Thanks for this post. As an avid leggings lover (always with a tunic) I have a question. I have been tempted to buy some wool leggings which are much thicker – so I am afraid that they will make my legs look too chunky [as i was blessed with really chunky legs]. Any thoughts on that. Any brands you would recommend for super warm leggings. Thanks so much. And as per usual you look radiant in these outfits.

  15. 19-year old said the other day that she’d just ordered some “treggings”. What the what?! I’m only just getting my head around leggings vs. jeggings vs. ponte pants and now I have another one to contend with?

  16. Excellent timing. I need some new ponte pants … I am taking your advice on board with better quality. I think that is the difference between only being able to wear them casually and in a more dressier situation.

  17. Love love love this post and right on the money about covering both ‘bums’. Discovered ponte pants during my recent pregnancy and love love love how they look great for my mum look with some vans and a wool tunic/vest and with a lovely drapery shirt. I would not have been as brave to try something so slim fitting unless it started during pregnancy. So glad I did as I always get compliments when I wear them….and I’m a voluptuous 14-16 on bottom

  18. Nikki you would find about 6 pairs in my wardrobe I love them especially over tunics and long knits ,my favourite brands are Katie’s ponte leggings thick and warm and not too long on my shortish body and Sussan’s Ponte leggings I also have a charcoal pair with leather/ pleather panels and a suede looking pair,they weren’t cheap but to me they are an investment as they last a few seasons.
    For jeggings Rockmans do a lovely range at a good price and are thick and skinny enough on my legs ,a lot are too loose on me,I hope that might help some of your more petite readers.
    Great post Nikki,it is cold in Sydney today xx

  19. I have only just started wearing leggings & still weird if I’m wearing them in public. I make sure everything that should be covered is covered but still feel a bit exposed. They are super comfy though & quite forgiving to a body that’s grown 4 babies & never quite recovered….
    What about printed leggings? Are they OK for the woman who are no longer teenagers? I sometimes get sick of my black ones.

  20. For me it’s Metalicus for good quality leggings that last (had mine for probably 3 or 4 years) and Mela Purdie for ponte pants.

    I also bought a pair of pontes from Trenery recently, that are zip up so the fit is really nice, but I can’t swear to their longevity as yet.

  21. Nikki, what would be your best suggested alternative to the Bella Bodies leggings which are out of stock in your shop (size Voluptuous). The style that you have featured does not appear on the Bella Bodies website at all. Thanks.

  22. thanks nikki! always on the job!x
    all of these recommendations are great!
    I live in tights, leggings, jeggings, treggings and ponte pants! … all different brands from country road to big w! … in fact I love my grey treggings from last year big w $25 wish I had bought 2 pairs they still look like new and have taken them on holidays and worn to death no pilling at all! … I hand wash anything I love!
    I also like thermals … have bought these from target where they have the tops to match then can have a long line over the top! … perfect for me!
    enjoy your day lovely! m:)X

  23. Very timely post Nikki. I feel a winter wardrobe edit coming on next weekend. I invested in some Lysse leggings last winter. They are expensive, but very comfortable and no saggy knees or continual hitching up. x

  24. I am loving the Sportscraft Esme ponte pants as a great alternative to jeans ($119.95). I bought black last year and navy this winter – look out for the spend and save promo or % off deals. The fabric is quite thick and the legs are tapered. Reminds me of the ski pants from the 80’s without the foot stirrup. Once I got my head around wearing a long line top/shirt/cardigan wtih them I was right.

  25. I buy my jeggings from Dorothy Perkins in the UK online – they’re awesome – heaps of colours, huge range of sizes, and best of all, different leg lengths which is ideal for people who are vertically challenged such as myself. I just bought my first pair of ponte pants, I found some great styles in Jeans West and Glassons. I think they are going to be my new favourite thing!

  26. Great timing on this post Nikki. I was literally just googling “good quality black leggings” yesterday after looking at the sad collection of wash-faded cheapies from last year. I don’t think I am ready to spend $110 though. Do you have a mid-range option you can recommend? Maybe around the $50 mark?

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