Are Leggings as Trousers Ever Okay? An A-List Stylist Settles the Debate

When she’s not working with big names like Lupita Nyong’o, Jennifer Hudson, and Hilary Swank, celebrity stylist Micaela Erlanger also divulges her fashion expertise in our Ask a Stylist column. From the best places to source vintage to the secret to finding your most flattering jeans, come back each week for a professional’s perspective.

There is a debate brewing in the world of fashion on a topic I’ve been asked about time and time again: Is it ok to wear leggings as trousers? It’s not hard to understand the allure of leggings. Who hasn’t dreamed of replacing stiff denim with a pair of stretchy trousers you can wear everywhere from the gym to work to drinks with the girls? It’s time to settle this debate once and for all—and the answer isn’t quite as simple as a yes or a no. Should you wear leggings as trousers? Well, it depends on the situation.

I find leggings to be acceptable when worn one of two ways: as activewear or as a layering piece. When worn alone, leggings should be left for the gym or yoga class. In fact, a good pair of thick black leggings paired with a cute sports bra can make for very chic gymwear. Another great way to utilise leggings is as a layering piece. They can provide the perfect way to wear a sheer dress. Ultimately, leggings have plenty of uses—they just shouldn’t be worn on their own unless you're planning to work up a sweat. Check out some of my favourite looks featuring leggings.

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Rex

On Alexa Chung: Charlotte Olympia 'Kitty' Flat (£365), Animal House Graphic Tee.

Similar Styles: Zella 'Keep It Cool' Crop Leggings (£33), EnSoie Porselli Ballet Flats in Pink (£152).

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Getty Images

On Candice Swanepoel: Nike Dunk Sky Hi in Black/Sail/Medium Mint/Black (£72).

Similar Styles: Current/Elliott 'The Muscle' Tee (£51); Bandier Printed Legging in Light Marble (£54).

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Bauer Griffin/Getty Images

On Kendall Jenner: Nike Legend 2.0 Stretch-Jersey Leggings (£40) and Roshe One Sneaker in Black/White/Platinum (£70); Warby Parker Halford 58mm Polarized Sunglasses.

Similar Styles: Bodyism Olivia Stretch-Jersey Sports Bra (£70); Gorjana Viceroy Necklace (£35).

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MANIK/Splash News

On Gigi Hadid: Ray-Ban Aviator Flash Lenses in Blue Flash (£143); Blue Life Fit Zipper Moto Legging (£122); Botkier satchel; Adidas Originals Superstar Sneaker (£70).

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Bauer Griffin/Getty Images

On Lily Aldridge: Self-Portrait x Le Specs 'Edition Five' Half Rim Frosted Acetate Round Sunglasses in Matte Milky Blush/Gold (£85); The Row Two for One 12th Suede Tote Bag in Sand/Pink (£1956).

Similar Style: Nike Warp Knit Training Tank Top (£36).

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Getty Images

On Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: Nike capris; Saint Laurent Classic Small Sac du Jour Bag in Dark Green Grained Leather (£1890); Burberry sunglasses.

On Selena Gomez: Adidas Performer Three-Quarter Tights in Black/Silver (£40), Infinite Series Supernova Bra (£30), hoodie, and shoes.

Do you think leggings should be worn as trousers? Let us know in the comments!