By JASMINE CUNNINGHAM.
LEGGINGS: A lovely, long, leg-hugging garment usually made from cotton/lycra, insatiably comfortable and brought to you in plain, bold and print designs, available in just about every womenswear store around the world!
Legging fact: Leggings are not pants, they are leggings!
So what do you get when you cross a pair of these comfy must-haves with a really short top? Way more than you or your onlookers bargained for!
You really have to have an awesome 360-degree rotating mirror to see yourself from all angles before venturing out of the house in the famous legging with short top combo. I say this as so many females still fall into this colossal-size sin bin of fashion faux pas. And guys, unless you are Russell Brand, the megging look should be strictly left to the professionals (comedians that is).
Have you ever really looked at what leggings do for or to your figure when teamed with a shorter top? Then I suggest you do so before considering wearing it out in public again! For the wiser amongst us, who have not tried this, even at home, congratulations! Leggings are an absolute wardrobe essential but they still come with a strict set of instructions.
Let me tell you, it has been a very frustrating couple of weeks on 'street style alert', particularly when inspecting the after hours crowds on the streets of our gorgeous and most fashionable city.
As you may have noticed most leggings have a seam that runs right up the backside of the garment. Please, please, please remember when cotton lycra products are super tight, they generally stretch to become quite sheer. And when there is a seam involved, the sheerness simply turns into key hole glimpses of flesh, an underwear colour viewer and butt crack revealer. This is the view that most unsuspecting legging with short top wearers probably don’t know they fail on. Not only does this look reveal a lot about what we have in the back, it also doesn’t leave much to the imagination when the anterior scenery is in full view. Here I refer to two of the most famous words used in the fashion world, or should I say unfashionable world - the legendary ‘camel toe’. And yes if you wear leggings with a short top you too are susceptible to judgement and ridicule and a heck of a lot of sideways glances! Think about all those times you have spotted the relatively innocent male subject sporting a rather tight fitting grey marle track pant whilst out in public... yeah… um… doesn’t leave much to the imagination now does it?
I do occasionally see legging with short top wearers attempting not to fall victim to the camel toe look by pulling down their leggings so the crutch hangs somewhere near the knee. Well done to one for thinking this will prevent the crutch of the article riding up into an awkward and most uncomfortable position, but have you seriously seen what it then does to your rear view? Muffins all around! Even on the slightest of figures, low rise leggings still reveal a little muffin top - it may be small on our little friends but it is still there and easily identifiable. And if your winter covering has entrapped and is torturing your svelte summer body then I would assume the same technique of dragging the crutch would create a much bigger muffin or ‘fedoob’ as many of us have come to know it by.
Another epic fail on the old legging subject card includes the wearing of the very tight full brief under the garment in question. C’mon guys, unless you are six years old and off to jazz ballet class with Mum, cover up your behind with a long top. The double bum, unattractive mountainous landscape or VPL (visible panty line) is frightening to say the least. What on earth is going through the minds of the hundreds of VPL offenders? Please cover up your rear if you insist on wearing a full brief. I am yet to see a full brief in disguise under a tight pair of leggings. G-strings were invented for a reason!
So if the legging is one of the most worn and must-have wardrobe items, then how CAN we wear them? The answer is simple: Wear them under a dress, to the gym only (and quickly home again), with a long top or shirt, layered up with bold prints and fabrics and maybe to bed! Don’t get me wrong I love and have at least 20 pairs in all colours, patterns, fabrics and lengths but the key to pulling it off without offending the public is quite simply to cover your backside.
The legging world listened when our much loved Sass&Bide introduced the “Rats” to their collection. Not only were they an instant hit for legging fans world wide, sceptics took notice. They were designed with style in mind and were developed in black with loads of colours and patterns to follow including the latest addition - ‘the motor tight’. The shape of this legging is easily identifiable by its side seams, rouched with elastic stitch. They simply look fabulous on all sized pins! And even though the girls brought us this iconic invention, don’t mistake their quirky design for pants.
Case in point: Sales assistant at Chadstone shopping centre sporting the latest pair of leopard print rats, with short top of course, fell victim to the ‘sheer around the bum seam’ look, whilst attending to my requests in a store. Poor little rats girl, completely unaware that her g-string and butt crack were in full view. It only left me pondering that I MUST GET THIS URGENT MESSAGE TO THE FEMALE POPULATION OF WARRNAMBOOL.
Leggings can be worn to look amazing and can really work for a lot shapes and sizes. Although I love a great legging, even under a dress, the shorter, ¾-length legging should really not be worn when creating a dressy, going-out-for-tea or evening look. I find this length sends hazy images of the gym, treadmills, sneakers and boot-camp sessions through my mind - not such a great look when teamed with a heel. A few exceptions in the ¾-length world have been accepted in the past but they probably only remain the property of Carrie Bradshaw and the Sex In The City crew.
A full-length legging always works best when creating a dressy look. When dressing up in the colder months a full tight does usually outdo its cut-off legging friend when worn with a dress, but throw on your leggings, a long ‘cover the butt’ top, add a jacket, cardi or blazer, dress up with accessories and pop on your latest heels. This look is pretty well fail safe and even if the butt seam of your much loved leggings has become sheer with wear, it will not be screened to the public.
Some other legging rules to live by:
* Make sure that if you're going dressy, your leggings aren’t pilled or ‘bally’ as it’s often termed.
* Just because you are young does not mean you escape the legging rules.
* You can wear leggings with a hoodie but put a long singlet or cotton slip underneath.
* Try them even if you are not confident. You may well be very surprised, especially when experimenting with longer tops or a dress.
* Leggings do not have an age limit. It’s the top half that helps polish the look and makes it age appropriate.
* You can wear them to the gym with a shorter top, this may well be one of the only places where this look is acceptable, as almost everyone in this setting can be seen sporting leggings and a short top!
* If you do opt for a cheaper pair please ensure you have appropriate underwear, remember a VPL is not cool.
* Try a patterned legging. This look is terrific when paired with a long chunky knit or long layers and jackets.
One can only hope that the current legging with short top offenders take note, or at least their friends. Shame on you for not correcting your buddies offensive behavior a lot sooner.
We absolutely do not have to sacrifice comfort in order to look fabulous when embarking on a legging journey. Just make sure you have had a decent look at your ensemble before venturing out into the big wide world. It can be pretty rough out there and you don’t want to be caught with your leggings down!
* Jasmine Cunningham is the manager/buyer for Mix It Up and Mixture Boutique in Warrnambool.