Leggings can be an extremely comfortable piece of clothing to wear throughout the year. Below, you will all the tips you need on how to wear leggings over 40 as well as the best leggings to choose for your leggings outfits.
What are leggings?
Before we get onto how to wear leggings, what exactly are they? Leggings are thicker than tights so they are nice and warm and give good coverage for your legs.
Generally skin tight, leggings tend to end at your mid calf or ankle. They’re stretchy so you don’t need any fastenings to get into them. And, depending on the style and material, you can wear leggings for everything from exercising to a night out.
So, exactly how should you wear leggings so they also look good? And which are the best leggings to buy?
In this updated article with new shopping options, I will give you lots of guidelines on how to wear leggings over 40, 50 and beyond and where you can buy the best leggings online.
You will also find a capsule wardrobe of the best leggings as well as tops, sweaters, coats, dresses, shoes and accessories to wear with them.
How to wear leggings so you look stylish?
Leggings are a great transitional option for spring and summer as you can wear underneath dresses or tunics, meaning you can continue wearing your favorite summer dresses even if the weather is still a little cool.
Meanwhile, for winter, you can wear your leggings with sweaters and boots.
In my opinion, you should not wear leggings like normal trousers unless they are made from a thick material or they coated.
I would not do that at any age, but it certainly does not look very classy when you are over 40.
I feel it is much nicer to wear leggings as a supportive element for the rest of your clothes, rather than as a main garment. You will find all our best tips on how to wear leggings below.
Also find out our top picks for the best tummy control leggings.
What are the best leggings to buy?
You will want to make sure that your leggings are thick enough and have a good stretch, yet are still firm enough to give your legs a great shape.
For that reason, it’s wise to invest in a good pair.
Ponte leggings (a hybrid of leggings and pants) are also a good choice.
If you like even thicker leggings, you may consider jeggings or elasticated skinny jeans. I would steer clear of shiny or sheer leggings.
Leather or faux leather leggings are great for an edgier look and can be easily ‘softened’ with a silk tunic.
Adaline @sdmomstyles above shows how you could wear a long, open coat over your leggings.
If the weather is still cold where you are, you can read our article on the best winter leggings for women over 40.
Some great brands for leggings include:
It can be tricky to find a pair of leggings which give great coverage, aren’t see-thru and don’t lose their shape. So before looking at how to wear your leggings, below are some of my favorite brands as well as recommendations from 40+ Style readers.
1. Zella live-in leggings
Zella Live In leggings have consistently good reviews. -These look just as good for everyday wear or for a workout.
2. Satina high-waisted leggings
Satina leggings come in several colors so you could always opt for a softer hue for summer if you already have black leggings in your closet or a winter shade like navy or burgundy. They have a high waist (making them perfect for hiding your belly)
NYDJ is well known for creating jeans for curves rather than for teenage girls. They also have a range of flattering leggings.
Alo is well known for classic and timeless styles that you can wear year-upon-year. So it’s no surprise, you’ll find the brand features some classic leggings and jeggings.
Lyssé prides itself on offering foundational wardrobe essentials. After all, every great wardrobe starts with good foundations! You can read more about this idea in how to create the ultimate capsule wardrobe.
Leggings make a good foundation because of their versatility. You can wear under so many different items of clothing in so many different ways. Read on for outfit ideas as well as a capsule wardrobe based on leggings.
7. Lands’ End
Kimba @kimbalikes above wears her leggings under her tiered dress.
MORE LEGGINGS TO CHOOSE FROM
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to the brands above, the below leggings also have fantastic reviews.
1. Best leggings for women
When searching for the best leggings for women, another good option to choose are the 90 degree leggings from Amazon (below) which have thousands of good reviews from women who say they prefer them over bigger brands.
2. Best Amazon leggings
Another good choice from Amazon are the Heathyoga leggings (below) which are perfect for working out. One reviewer even described them as the best leggings she has ever owned.
3. Best high waisted leggings
Leggings which fall down or which leave you at risk of flashing your underwear are definitely not flattering. So, to make sure everything is tucked in, opt for a pair of high-waisted leggings like the ones from FULLSOFT (below) which also feature tummy tuck technology.
4. Best plus size leggings
If you’re looking for the perfect pair of plus size leggings, the stretch jersey leggings (below) from Just My Size may be the answer. Reviewers say they are curve-hugging and stay put without being uncomfortable.
5. Best faux leather leggings
If you want to add a little edginess to your outfit, a pair of leather or faux leather leggings is a good option. You could wear casually with a long sweater, or for evening with a tunic top or dress.
Melanie @melanie.rae.miller above wears her faux leather leggings with her raw hem dress.
6. Most comfortable leggings
When looking for comfy leggings, how they stretch is important. The leggings (below) from Felina have four-way stretch, and they come in packs of two, making them good value.
7. Best cotton leggings
Cotton is a good choice for so many items of clothing, and leggings are no exception. If you’re looking at leggings for working out, cotton can keep moisture against your body rather than wicking it away.
But cotton leggings can be ideal for everyday wear.
8. Good leggings
When choosing leggings, quality is important. After all, you don’t want everyone to be able to see your underwear and every lump and bump.
The Colorfulkoala leggings (below) are available in a huge range of colors and have good reviews from women who say they are the best quality to be found at their price point.
9. Best jeggings for women
A pair of jeggings are another good style to think about. These are great for wearing casually with sweaters and boots.
10. Best leggings with pockets
If you’re exercising or out for a walk, you might prefer to choose a pair of leggings you can fit your phone in like the leggings from IUGA (below).
11. Best cheap leggings
Unless you have an unlimited clothing budget, you may be looking at good leggings on a budget. The MUK LUKS leggings (below) are well-priced but have good reviews from women who say they are amazing for the price point.
12. Best leather leggings
A pair of leather leggings can be a great option for evening. Add a silk shirt, blazer and heeled booties. Or you could wear casually with a sweater and booties.
13. Control top leggings
There are plenty of leggings which don’t just look stylish, but can also help to smooth out your silhouette. The Dragon Fit tummy control leggings (below) have good reviews on Amazon from women who say they comfortably hold everything in without feeling restrictive.
How to wear leggings: What to consider when choosing your leggings
As you can see, the choice of leggings is endless. So now that you’re thinking about the legging brands to look for, what else should you consider?
Just as with skirt hem lengths, or the arm lengths on your tops, there are a number of legging lengths you could opt for.
Your leggings could end just below your knees, at your calves or ankles or they could be full-length.
Choose ankle or full length to tuck into booties, or a shorter length for your summer sandals.
For an extra flattering look, opt for leggings which hit your legs at their slimmest point.
By their very nature, leggings come in stretchy fabric so you can pull them on without any fasteners. Usually, they have a mix of lycra and cotton, but you could choose from all sorts of materials such as a leather look or denim depending on whether you are opting for a casual or evening look.
Black leggings are clearly a complete classic that will go with everything you own. They are the perfect addition to a capsule wardrobe.
But you could also think about white for summer, or add some color or pattern to your outfit. However, if you do opt for colored leggings, you may wish to keep the rest of your outfit more subtle.
What to wear with leggings?
So, now that you have a few ideas for the best legging brands to choose and other factors to consider, what should you wear with them?
Leggings look best with longer tops and tunics. Short dresses can also look great with leggings.
So, if you do own a shorter dress that you have pushed to the back of your wardrobe, you could always try it with leggings before you decide to donate it.
Leggings work best when they act as a base for your other clothes. If you want to wear shorter tops I would recommend wearing jeans and other pants.
Find out some of our top recommendation for jeans.
The best tunics to wear with leggings
Leggings look better with longer tops. You still want to make sure that you create enough structure in your outfit though.
You can do that through the right tunics and longer asymmetrical tops.
The latter especially create flattering vertical lines and add a bit of extra style to your look.
Sandra @lapecosapreciosa above wears a print tunic over her black leggings. Wearing boots in the same color as your leggings has a leg lengthening effect.
how to Wear leggings with a long shirt
Because a long shirt covers up your bottom and thighs, you can afford to go a little bit edgy with your leggings. You could opt for a pair in leather or faux leather.
All of these shirts (below) would look great with a pair of faux leather or coated leggings.
PULI Large Cross Front Poncho – COS Oversized Waisted Poplin Shirt – Zella Live In High Waist Leggings – Steve Madden Hayle Platform Chelsea Boot – Tory Burch Kira Small Chevron Camera Bag – COS Enameled Chain Necklace
how to wear leggings with Short dresses
Instead of designated tunics you can also wear a short dress over your leggings.
An asymmetrical dress or draped dress will make a real statement.
If you have pushed a shorter dress to the back of your closet before you don’t feel confident about the length, it could be time to get it back out and try it with leggings.
It can be tricky to wear a longer dress with leggings because you need to think more carefully about the proportions of your outfit. A great way to make sure you get it right is to wear a dress with a slit in it so you show off a little leg (or at least a little legging!). You could look out for a shirt dress, or a draped style would also work well.
how to wear leggings with Lightweight cover-ups
Given that some of you will be heading into the warmer months, another way to wear your leggings could be with a lighter-weight cover-up.
That way, you can still take advantage of flattering layers while staying cool.
SweatyRocks Kimono – Eileen Fisher Sleeveless Mock Neck Silk Tunic Top – Zella Live In High Waist Leggings – FLY London Yefa Sandal – Aimee Kestenberg Zen Leather Hobo – COS Textured Chain Necklace – Madewell Large Ribbed Hoop Earrings
Layer your leggings with a cardigan or sweater
Leggings are definitely your friend when it comes to layering.
They look great worn under long tops and ponchos with ankle booties.
If you’re heading out for a walk or to run errands, slinging a lightweight coat over a pair of leggings, together with a long-line tunic, can be a stylish option
Or, rather than wearing a coat, as you are likely to be heading into spring, you could try teaming your leggings with a cozy knit?
When choosing a sweater to go with your leggings, opt for a long-line version which will cover up your bottom.
Or, if that is an area of your body you are confident about, you could always wear a pair of skinny jeans and a shorter sweater.
Abi @stealmystyle40 above wears her striped sweater with her legging. If you want to cover your hips, you could always wear it loose rather than tucked in.
Leggings look great with jackets and long coats
Long cardigans can create lovely vertical lines which can help to elongate your figure.
But you can always wear a longer coat to keep you warm.
Another idea is to wear a longer top or short dress over your leggings and then to layer a moto or denim jacket over it.
COS Cropped Milano-Knit Jacket – Made By Johnny Swing Tunic Top – Zella Live In High Waist Leggings – Vans Old Skool Sneaker – Aimee Kestenberg Zen Leather Hobo – Madewell Large Ribbed Hoop Earrings – Alexander McQueen Galactic Iris Cotton & Silk Scarf
In general, your ideal garments to combine with leggings include:
- Asymmetric tops and tunics
- Short dresses
- Knit dresses
- Long knitted sweaters
- Longer asymmetrical pieces
- Long cardigans
- Big wide sweaters
- Sweater dresses
what Shoes to wear with leggings?
As you will see from all the examples in this article you can wear a wide variety of shoes with your leggings.
I feel that open vamp shoes look the best as they will further lengthen your leg line.
But, with cooler weather, you can definitely wear your leggings with closed toe versions such as booties, sneakers and knee-high boots.
AllSaints Dalby Leather Biker Jacket – COS Linen Shirt – Zella Live In High Waist Leggings – Steve Madden Hayle Platform Chelsea Boot – Tory Burch Kira Small Chevron Camera Bag – COS Enameled Chain Necklace
which Accessories to wear with leggings
Of course, anything goes when you are choosing accessories to wear with your leggings.
But generally, leggings invite a casual look, so you could opt for scarves and crossbody bags rather than anything too formal. However, if you choose a dressier pair of leggings, you might want a clutch bag or statement jewelry.
Aimee Kestenberg Zen Leather Hobo – Tory Burch Kira Small Chevron Camera Bag – COS Enameled Chain Necklace – COS Textured Chain Necklace – Karine Sultan Double Square Stud Earrings – Madewell Large Ribbed Hoop Earrings – Alexander McQueen Galactic Iris Cotton & Silk Scarf
For which body type would leggings be suitable?
If you follow some of the guidelines above, all body types will be able to wear leggings.
If you have very thick calves though I would recommend you wear skinny jeans so the pants skim over your calves and will make them look slimmer. Make sure your leggings don’t end at the widest point of your legs.
Wide legged pants are also an option or you could wear leggings with nice knee-high boots.
Leggings can work especially well for the apple body type.
Your long tunic or top covers your belly and the leggings show off your fantastic legs.
You could never tell that Anja @curlytraveller does have a tummy from these images (below).
Although women with the pear body shape can wear leggings as well, it is important that they choose a top with sufficient length over them.
If you are self-conscious about your tummy, it’s also worth taking a look at how to hide your belly with the right clothes.
How to wear leggings in summer and for travel
In case you live in warmer climes, below are a few travel looks with leggings.
Here is how I wore black and white leggings on holiday. Tunic by Stella Carakasi.
Above is when I wore a white long tunic over a pair of capri leggings.
Leggings with asymmetrical tunics
I especially love asymmetric tunics and tops as they create an interesting silhouette and lengthen you through additional vertical lines.
Here is how I recently wore a super asymmetrical black top with white over-the-knee skinnies and a high / low tunic with very stretchy skinnies.
Also take a look at the best asymmetrical tops and dresses.
What not to wear with leggings over 40
I’ve spoken a lot about what TO wear with leggings, but what are some of the things to avoid?
- Unless your leggings are thick, avoid any tops that are higher than mid-thigh. Or use an asymmetrical top (as shown below) that is long at the back.
- Don’t wear tops that are too tight. leggings look better with wider tops as it creates a contrast between fitted and lose.
- Avoid animal prints (unless you are opting for skinny jeans instead of leggings) and disco fabrics for your leggings and remember that the classier the top, the better leggings will look. The luxury fabric of silk, wool or cashmere will create a great contrast with the comfortable jersey leggings.
What is the ideal length of your leggings
You can never go wrong with full-length leggings. These elongate and will make your legs appear longer.
Ankle-high leggings can also look sexy especially with heels or booties.
If you are short though, mid-calf and short leggings should be worn with caution as they will make you look smaller.
Leggings that stop just below the knees are a great option too and good for summer days.
As you may have seen from the images above, it is great to wear a shoe in the same color as your leggings as it elongates your legs even further.
Tall flat boots can work really well with leggings, but short booties and ballet flats can work equally good.
For more info on what kind of shoes to wear with what pants check out this article.
What about jeggings and skinny jeans?
Above is a look I wore while traveling. Also take a look at travel outfits for women over 40.
These will not show every curve in your legs, but will provide nice vertical lines and make your legs look long and slim.
Depending on the kind of jeggings and skinny jeans you choose, your tops can be shorter for these pants although, just like leggings, they will also look good with longer tops.
They can be a great asset for any wardrobe of women over 40.
Skinny jeans are usually a bit thicker and roomier so can be worn with shorter tops.
Be sure to wear the right underwear though, so there is no clear VPL (visible panty line). (Featured below are myself and Greetje).
Below is another look with skinny jeans featuring an asymmetrical top.
A capsule wardrobe with 9 ways to wear your leggings
Of course, there are so many ways you could put together the leggings, tops, sweaters, dresses, shoes and accessories in this article to create many, many outfits. But here are 9 outfits to get your started.
Let me know which of these outfits you would wear.
shop some of legging outfits above here:
Read our ultimate guide to creating a capsule wardrobe that works best for you.
Below, you can see a previous season capsule for more inspiration.
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I hope you got some more clarity on how to wear leggings! What do you think? Do you like wearing leggings and how do you usually wear leggings?
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Feature image by Judith @stylecrone
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