Friday, July 22, 2011

Oui, Non, Peut-être (Maybe)?

Accessorized with Chanel ballerines.

Leggings. Let's examine the leggings conundrum.

Ines de la Fressange tells us they're a no-no after 50, whereas with her long lean legs she is probably one of the few women in the world who could wear them forever.

When mulling the problem, I was on the fence for a few days, but finally I'm leaning toward agreement with Ines. Let me explain. I'm not certain they're an age issue -- except perhaps for the short version -- they are, regretfully, more of a figure issue.

Why emphasize lumpy at any age if that happens to be one's figure default. And please, do not give me the "they're comfortable" excuse. So are sweats and you know they are never to be worn in public under any circumstances. They are exercise wear. Period.



Comfort and style have never been mutually exclusive. Laziness and laisser-aller (translate "sloppy") are unacceptable, particularly at our ages.

I have a French friend in her 70s who often wears leggings, ballerinas and big white shirts, lots of bangles and  looks stunning. She has great style and possesses a closet full of haute couture, right next to a collection of simple tops from Zara. She has no fear or complexes about the "rights" and "wrongs" of fashion.

Most of the time however, I think leggings are risky, as in difficult to wear with panache. Sometimes, I've noticed, they're simply silly. With rare (tres rare) exceptions why would anyone over 25 wear short leggings under a dress for example? And, when, long or short, accessorized with sky-high heels they do look a little you-know-what, as in "I offer hourly rates."


She's an artist and she has created her distinctive "look." No it's not for everyone, in fact it's probably for her alone, but isn't it sweet? (And, no, she's not as young as she appears.)
That being said, I looked through my photo files and found a few French subjects of a certain age wearing leggings.

Is it because they're French? Is it because they're in France?

I'll let you decide.

32 comments:

Northmoon said...

I had been eagerly waiting for your input on this topic. I'm a little sad that the verdict is 'non' after 50 even though your examples all look stylish to me.

Personnaly I would only even consider wearing leggings with a tunic that would cover all my lumpy areas completely. and only in a casual setting, they are not work appropriate to me.

But I guess you are saying there are better choices when you are a certain age. Wonder what the other ladies who read your blog will say?

une femme said...

I've worn leggings in the last year, but usually under a skirt and with boots. But personally, I think they generally would look OK with a tunic-length top and flats. Heels? Probably not.

une femme said...

Per Northmoon's question, I generally wear a slim ankle pant rather than leggings. Same effect, but the difference is in degrees.

Miss Kim said...

If, like me, you have slim legs and a round body, I think it can work. But definitely NOT with heels!

Gretchen said...

I hate it. Would much rather never see a woman wearing leggings again, ever. There are a dozen options one could choose other than these. Bleh

Katherine said...

Under long tops, with flats or boots only I think. Never heels.

The lady in first picture looks great, but the others I'm not so keen on - they remind me of my husband's military aircrew long johns, worn under flying suit.

frugalscholar said...

I have thick pants/leggings in black ponte. I also just got some cotton leggings at Monoprix. I wore them almost every day in France and now here (I'm in Massachusetts)--generally w/ a long tank and flats or sandals. I always felt just right in France. I am 57--but my legs are probably my best feature.

MEG MITCHELL said...

Like everyone else, I only wear leggings with a tunic but lately I've been wearing the slim black pants and I do feel a lot more polished. Slim black pants smooth all the lumpy bits so much better than leggings.
But at home? Nothing is more comfy than leggings.

Murphy said...

I love the look on several of the ladies in your pix, and I generally like leggings with long tunics on other women. Even though I have long, thin legs, I do not like the look on myself. I think it's because the last time I personally wore leggings, I was pregnant and combined them with long maternity tops. Since I am now too old to be pregnant, I always feel like I am dressing too young if I go for a similar look. I do love slim jeans or pants with a longer top: on me it looks more polished (or at least it feels more polished.

Catherine Robinson said...

I agree with Ines de la Fressange and you lovely Tish...they are definitely a figure issue...and there are so many better outfits to choose than leggings...I've yet to see anyone, young or old that they look great on!
Have a lovely weekend.

BigLittleWolf said...

I think leggings are a definite oui as long as they are well chosen and look good - rather than making you look like a 50-something ditzy 20-wannabe.

In other words, anything classic and well fitting (IMO) will work, especially if carried off with confidence.

My two centimes. (And yes, I do occasionally where leggings.)

Anonymous said...

Ah mon dieu! Non, non, non. A notre âge? Ines is right. Les deux derière photo? Bleh



Kirin

365 Tage said...

my fashion advice is: nothing is unacceptable, if you can live with it. women are told how to look all their lives, so when they get to "a certain age" they should wear whatever suits them.

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I love leggings and I hate when lumpy shows!! I still like them with tunics and the way your friend (70) wears them sounds perfect for me. Our local newspaper fashion editor told me that the greatest friend to a woman over 50 is a three way mirror...maybe that would help leggings be worn in more appropriate ways!!

beyondbeige said...

No leggings. Ever. Reminds me of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Especially with a tunic
;D

Ann Marie said...

It may be unfair to assign a numeric "age" in respect to what you can or cannot wear. I am in my late 50's (shudder...) and feel very comfortable in the right pair of leggings. I say "right" pair because I am very conscious of the fit and the fabric, along with wearing boots or flats....no heels. I do have a problem with sun damage on my upper arms and as a result, they look "older than the rest of me" ! I will not wear sleeveless any more, but I don't think it would be fair to say all women over 50 have to wear sleeves. I see many older women with upper arms that look good and they can wear whatever they want.
We are now at an age where we know our strong points and our weak points and can dress accordingly.

Rubi said...

The women in the photos look OK, I guess, but those baggy elephant knees are atroces! I think they'd look so much better with a slim ankle pant instead.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I personally love leggings with a tunic top that covers ones derriere...worn with classic ballet flats or boots.

I wore them back in the 80's when they were called stirrup pants!!!

LuxeBytes said...

As always, if you have a pretty figure, you can get away with whatever you want ....

xoxoxo --
M.

Spiral Style said...

Leggings on others, great. Leggings on me, disaster!

quintessence said...

For me a non - but only because my legs are not my forte. If I had long thin shapely legs, I see nothing wrong with dark leggings worn in an attractive manner at any age - first shot perfect example. White is a whole other issue!! Leggings, like anything else for me, are an individual decision, depending on style and body type.

Charlotte Holmes said...

I love leggings, always worn with a tunic or a dress, and especially with boots in the winter. I always wear the long ones.

I've seen women of 20 wear leggings and look ridiculous, and women of 70 wear them and look fabulous. The body type, not the age, is the driving force here.

SE said...

I love that you posted these pictures because it brings home the truth to me- no matter the age, they only look "good" on the very slim and well-proportioned. Sigh, because that puts my pear-shape self out of the running.

Bourbon&Pearls said...

Cigarette pants yes, leggings never, they are terribly ugly, fine for lounging about at home but horrendously cheap looking otherwise.

Duchesse said...

Leggings or footless opaque tights are worn under skirts or dresses here (Montreal) for cycling- like Amsterdam, this is a huge bike city. This makes sense, you do *not* want that skirt to blow up in the wind and - whoops!

Leggings otherwise: no. The woman in the top photo would look so much more attractive in the slimmest pant.

The woman in the bottom photos has that 'free spirit' look which can be charming but past 50 begins to look passé.

Anonymous said...

Ponte knit slim pants with a tunic
type top look much sleeker for
us. Keeping my eye on the photos you offer us: the short boots with leggings and dress seem to cut the leg line. I think these shorter boots are coming "in" for the fall.
I'd rather a tall riding boot to elongate.

Anonymous said...

one thing to add:
the grey/white leggings
just: no

Belle de Ville said...

My mother, whose age I won't divulge, has long lean model legs and can still wear leggings with long tunic tops for casual attire.

I do not have long lean legs so I can't wear leggings or even cigarette pants.
Still, I see leggings as exercise clothes rather than street wear and like Tabitha, I think that cigarette pants are more chic.

ida said...

Have never worn leggings prefer cigarette pants..but each to their own says moi! Ida

L'age moyen said...

I don't have a problem with leggings as long as the butt area - the total butt area, is covered. I spend a lot of time at hockey arenas (the people I know!) and see more offensive use of leggings there than absolutely anywhere. Picture this, short quilted jacket, high-heeled boots (usually pointy heels, yuk), and then the final insult, black leggings showing every ounce of butt. No attempt to cover anything regardless of how, well, I won't go on. You get the picture. It is astounding that women think they actually look - what? Attractive? Sexy? They're hockey moms for gawd's sake. Glad to have gotten that off my chest. So few opportunities to rant. ;)

Kathleen said...

OK, OK....no heels (check!) and cover the backside (check!) Got that and completely agree. I beg to differ on the rest. I am fair skinned, and in my view leggings allow me to feel stylish and covered without resorting to hose when I wear a tunic or shorter dress. As long as the fabric finish is matte and the fit around the knees is good, I think it makes for a creative look. Only black or white for me, too. I would consider a very dark navy (no pseudo jeans, yuk) if I could find them. Good topic with fall coming!

Alice Olive said...

I think the figure dictates on this one. If your legs are shapely and long, do it. If not? Don't do it. No matter how young you are.

I am also surprised that Ines didn't endorse leggings based on the individual body, as, yes, she could wear leggings forever!

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