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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Make leggings work for you

Published: April 13, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Ugg boots and mini-skirts. Sweat shirts and leggings. Plastic beads, oversized sunglasses and side ponytails. These are the fashions that Brandeis females have been sporting recently and, despite this schools (not completely deserved) reputation for being fashion unconscious, these looks reflect current, national fashion trends. The problem with the current styles of clothing throughout fashion and, thusly, at Brandeis, is that, for many body-types, they arent flattering.

Leggings are a case in point. I, personally, wont go near them but I also recognize that theyre the in thing right now and cant blame fellow students for wanting to rock the latest styles. It becomes a question, then, of how to sport this trend in a way that is also figure-flattering. If youre bottom-heavy like me, leggings alone can be disastrous. Many of the curvaceous girls Ive seen around campus try to alleviate this problem with a mini-skirt and Uggs.

This is not the best possible remedy. While mini-skirts may make for a modest tush, they still tend to end high enough that voluptuous thighs appear tapered into the knee underneath the hemline. This can create the illusion that your thighs are actually larger than they are. Meanwhile, a chunky Ugg boot, while Uggs are awesome in their own right and can work really well with jeans, makes for a trunk-like calf and hidden ankles. The result of this combination is short and chubby-looking legs.

If you are curvy (and curvy can apply to women who are in perfect shape) you may want to consider abandoning the mini-skirt and Uggs in favor of a different solution. I suggest an A-line skirt that ends just above the knee in a light, diaphanous material such as cotton, with leggings of a darker color underneath that end beneath the knee or mid-calf. Finish the look in ballet flats. Your leggings will show, your butt will be sufficiently covered, and at the same time your legs will appear longer and more feminine.

Inversely, if you are tall and skinnyor, for that matter, petite and skinnythe above look may make you appear to be swimming in your clothes, or simply too little-girlish (this often depends on the individual and what kind of look youre actually going for). Very few people, however, can pull off leggings on their own. In fact, if you tend to be on the skinnier side, leggings can have the effect of making you appear thinner and lankier than you are, and a person lucky enough to be just thin enough and who is actually quite healthy can end up looking too skinny (the adage that you can never be too thin is, in my opinion, ridiculous).

If you are tall and thin, I suggest wearing any variety of long sweaters, belted or unbelted, from thin to chunky weights, over your leggings. Having the right color combination is essential, and I suggest avoiding large amounts of contrast. Pair brights with brights, darks with darks, and complimentary colors. Two different neutrals can be extremely sophisticated. Again, avoid Uggs with your leggings. The allure of a long, slender calf will only be diminished if it ends in a giant hunk of boot, which will, by contrast, only make you appear scrawny.

So, who can pull off leggings alone? Very few very lucky people. Athletes with just the right combination of voluptuousness and muscularity can pull it off swimmingly, but people with this body type can pull off practically anything. As for the rest of us, looking good in the current fashions is all a question of knowing what best suits your body.