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She’s got leggings and she knows how to use them! That’s the tune folks will be humming once you show them just how versatile they can be. We picked a classic black pair by Vince Camuto, available for $39 from Nordstrom, to offer you six alternatives to the tired baggy-sweater-and-leggings combo. Layer those long johns with fishnets for some instant va-va-voom or overturn the concept of hosiery by wearing them as a scarf or bolero. Stick with us and before you know it, you’ll be breaking out those gams and those jams like you were born to.

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A MODEST PROPOSAL

No need to start a scandal over the length—or lack thereof—of your skirt. Stash some leggings in your purse on standby and when in doubt, pull them out. Whether your prospective in-laws just “happen” by for a visit or a client has a meltdown on your day off, you’ll be primed and ready to telegraph haute, not hussy.

+ Mountains of the Moon Edie Dress $76

+ Samantha Pleet Chart Dress $310 at Bonadrag

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WORK IT OUT

Unless you’re a hardcore athlete or training for the New York Marathon, purchasing a pair of exercise pants just for working out in is plain unnecessary. Leggings are just as comfy and flexible as any specialty bottoms marked “yoga” or “running.” Put the money you’ll save towards your gym membership or, if you end up skipping your cardio, use your leggings as ersatz Spanx.

+ Hessnatur Organic Cotton Halter Top $28

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NET GAIN

If solid leggings are too quotidian for your taste, jazz them up by layering them with fun and colorful fishnets for a cool, textural look. Vintage stockings from the ’60s in lemon yellow or electric blue will put a swing in your step.

+ Deadstock ’60s Fishnet Stockings in Yellow $10 at Etsy

+ Vintage ’60s Fishnet Stockings in Electric Blue $19 at Etsy


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ZERO TRANSPARENCY

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: leggings are not pants. There are, however, exceptions to the rule. Instead of traumatizing hapless passers-by with sheer tights and barely concealed derrieres, opt for tightly woven, opaque versions before you rock those pelvis-grazing skirts and midriff-baring cropped tops.

+ Urban Renewal Cold Shoulder Western Shirt $49 at Urban Outfitters

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THINK OUTSIDE THE LEGS

Here’s a little trick for your inner MacGyver. In a pinch (read: frigid airplane cabin, no sweater in sight), your leggings can double as a scarf or even a bolero to cover gooseflesh arms. To use as a scarf, simply wrap the leggings around your neck like you would any muffler. Black ones go well with any coat, even one with a loud print.To wear as a bolero or shrug, slip your arms where your legs ordinarily go.

+ Ivana Helsinki Hand Made Coat $460 at Beklina

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SHORT ORDER

Don’t retire your favorite shorts just because summer is over. Wear them into fall or even early winter by slipping a pair of leggings underneath. Nothing to it.

+ Hinge Wool Flannel Shorts $49 at Nordstrom

Originally published on July 21, 2011.