The Most Wearable Leggings

Leggings. The word sends shivers up the spines of women packing even an ounce of extra padding below the waist. But the clingy bottoms -- which traipsed back into style a few seasons back -- aren’t going anywhere. In fact, some of the edgiest names in fashion recently unveiled amped-up new versions of the body-hugging staple for spring 2010.

Never fear. You don’t have to be a size 2 to rock the hosiery-inspired pants. With everyone from Marc Jacobs to Lindsay Lohan creating leggings collections, there’s an avalanche of fabrics, patterns and fits to choose from. And the best news is, leggings -- when they fit properly -- can feel as comfortable as a pair of flannel pajamas.

Leila Baboi, the West Coast staff stylist for Women’s Wear Daily, contends that there’s a pair of stretchy, skintight leggings for every woman -- regardless of age or body shape. What’s the key to pulling off the look? “Pair them with a long and slouchy top,” says Baboi, who has dressed Scarlett Johansson and Ashlee Simpson. “A cropped top or a too-tight tank will throw the balance off.”

Here are some of the stylist’s savvy tips on how to work the lean-and-mean look -- without adding extra pounds or delving into overly trendy territory:

Choose Long Over Cropped
Capri leggings are for spinning class -- not the office. They cut up the line of the body and can make your bottom half look shorter and chunkier. (We’ve yet to meet a woman who wants that!) Instead, get a long-and-lean look by choosing leggings that hit at, or even slightly below, the ankle. Skip the gimmicky stirrup legging: It’s an overly complicated style that’s likely to peter out soon.

Skip Prints
If you wouldn’t have stripes or polka dots on your regular pants, don’t try to pull them off in a legging. Cheetah-print or metallic leggings are strictly for fashion-forward 20-somethings -- and if worn with something simple and oversized on top, can be adorable. Over 35? Stick to solid black leggings or subdued prints, such as a gentle acid-wash or tone-on-tone all-over paisley. Designer David Lerner’s weighty, well-made versions have a marked slimming effect.

Opt for Big Tops
Avoid looking like you’re wearing a unitard, which means you’ll want to balance the tightness of a legging with a roomier style up top. That’s a cinch these days, since big is definitely huge in fashion right now. Boyfriend blazers, oversized tunics, slouchy button-down shirts and baggy sweaters are all perfect companions for leggings.

Look for Length
Pear-shaped figures aren’t exempt from wearing the look but look best with an even longer top. A fetching outfit: Leggings paired with a roomy tank or tunic underneath a knee-sweeping cashmere cardigan.

Legging Jeans
Denim leggings, coined the “legging jean,” are a sexy alternative to all-jersey leggings and offer a bit more thickness of fabric than all-knit varieties. Citizens of Humanity, J Brand and Goldsign all make chic legging jeans. Choose ones that have five-pocket styling on top to avoid the maternity-ish elastic waist.

Leather Legs
Leather and PVC leggings aren’t just for Rihanna and Lady Gaga. The decadent-looking drawers are a chic nighttime option when paired with towering stilettos and jackets and tops that are cut on the longer side. Nor is it a look solely for the young. Worn with a crisp white button-down shirt and statement earrings, leathery leggings are uber sophisticated. But be prepared to sweat -- your legs won’t be catching even the suggestion of a breeze all night.

Shoe-pairing Options
Leggings work with a bevy of different shoe styles. Ankle boots -- heeled or flat -- strappy sandals (again, high or low) and classic flats are all cute options. Just steer clear of ’80s-esque pumps that don’t have a covered vamp (the part of the shoe that covers the smooth, top side of your foot), which can turn a leggings ensemble from sassy to sour in seconds.


From the It Bag to the Do-it-your-way Bag

There’s good news for style seekers who couldn’t afford the it bags in previous seasons. Today, even celebrities and the most hardcore handbag fans are seeking out styles that don’t scream Gucci or Balenciaga. Instead, in what might be a response to these economic times, fashion buffs are craving something low-key and singular. There’s plenty to choose from: Some designers are hand-stitching peace logos onto sleek little clutches, and others are using faux skins like ostrich and snake and adding a metallic sheen to them.

“I think what’s happening now in handbags is about people having a better eye, about seeing something different,” said Los Angeles-based Daniel Schiffer, whose Endless Leather peace sign-stamped leather bags have been purchased by singer Pink (in pink, of course) and Michelle Obama. “Women want to find a bag that’s classy and that has a real vibration to it, without spending thousands of dollars.”

With prices running anywhere from $100 to over $1,000, consumers have a lot to choose from. The core fall and winter trends include crushed leather, fringe and surface details like studs and grommets. The key? Make it a bag that is not instantly identifiable as coming from a highly publicized designer.

“Having everyone know how much you spend on luxury goods by carrying the obvious it bag is not in good taste anymore,” says Lainie Schreiber, national sales director of the niche handbag line Latico Leathers. “Subtle brands and the confidence to carry bags you love is what’s hot.”

Here’s how to shop the trends:

  • Skins These are important for fall, but if you can’t afford -- or don’t want to carry -- an all-over python bag, look for something with even a patch of faux exotic skin, says Chad Ypon, co-founder of New York-based bag line The Divine Tribe, whose bags have been carried by Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz and Uma Thurman.
  • Shape Jennifer Furio, design director of bag line Tre Vero, predicts that satchels and feminine, chic briefcase bags will be a strong style for women, and Ypon forecasts a demand for roomy totes.
  • Color The colors that define this season are rich jewel shades, including gold, emerald, deep purple, metallic brown, burgundy and steel.
  • Details Look for little surprises on a bag -- a lining in a vintage-inspired pattern, an extra-wide zipper, hidden pockets for coins and cell phones. The hardware -- clasps, locks, zippers -- are all-important, in finishes ranging from antique brass to gunmetal.

Want to try your hand at designing your own bag? Designers say you can easily update the bags you already have in your closet. Charms and pins offer an instant fix. “Many of the couture fall bags are vintage-inspired,” says Schreiber. “Hunt for old pins, buttons and brooches in grandma’s attic or at flea markets, and simply affix to the flap of a favorite worn-in bag.”

Ypon suggests stitching or pasting on a leather or fabric flower patch, or stringing chains and charms through the zipper pull. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, Schiffer recommends cutting up an old, soft leather jacket and stitching together a little clutch. Not so handy? A couple of coats with a dark polish from a shoe repair store is an almost foolproof way to “stain” a leather bag, creating the popular distressed look. Bags made from canvas or fabric can be easily updated by sewing on beads, silver charms or even earrings.

Whatever bag you choose, always wear it with confidence.

Photo Credit: @

The Costume Hater’s Guide to Halloween

For the preteen set, Halloween is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. But the event can strike terror into the hearts of those who are older and more restrained in tastes. Thankfully, with a little humor, some beauty tricks and a few inexpensive trinkets, getting into the spirit of Halloween can become more of a treat than a trick.

Glamour Makeup

If the thought of donning a costume sends you screaming for the hills, simply amp up your everyday makeup for a high-glam, slightly campy look. “Halloween is a time when women can channel their alter ego,” says Boston-based makeup artist Jody Cohen. If your usual look is nude lip gloss and a swipe of a neutral blush, just wearing a vivid Gwen Stefani-red lipstick and popsicle-pink cheeks will be enough to shock your friends and leave you feeling like you’ve donned an elaborate masquerade.

The finishing touch is false eyelashes. “Really long fake lashes in the corner of the eyes convey a sexy vampire look,” says Cohen. Don’t be intimidated by faux lashes, she adds. With a steady hand, the right amount of adhesive and a little practice, the new generation of fake lashes are easy to apply.

A Head-turning Hairstyle

A statement hairdo can take you almost all the way to a Halloween getup; all you’ll need to add are accessories. One easy look is red carpet ingenue, suggests hairstylist Philip Pelusi, who owns 17 salons in Pittsburgh and one in Manhattan. Set your hair in small or medium electric or Velcro rollers and spritz with a volumizing spray for extra volume. After 15 or 20 minutes, remove the rollers and toss the curls without brushing. Pair with something satiny or shimmery, throw on some fake costume bling and go.

Another inexpensive option: clip-on hair extensions from the local beauty supply store in whimsical colors like gold, yellow and pink. Clip them randomly around your head, slip into the wildest dress from your local thrift store and, voila, Lady Gaga. Or, channel Rihanna with a clip-on hair extension along your forehead to mimic her signature fringe. Apply pomade to the rest of your hair to slick it close to your forehead and gather any long tresses into a ponytail, then tuck them into a hideaway bun. Your outfit should be a pair of skinny jeans, high-heeled boots and faux diamonds from the costume store.

Shop Your Closet
Everything you need for a sexy and spirited Halloween is probably already in your closet. Los Angeles-based fashion stylist and vintage-store owner Brenna Egan says that with a little black dress or leggings and a black tee, you’re 90 percent there. “Grab some waterproof eyeliner and draw whiskers, cat eyes and a cute button nose to morph into a kitty cat,” she says. “Fishnets -- if you’re wearing a dress -- and platforms vamp it up.”

For an irreverent wink at Halloween, don gold leggings or tights -- you can find these at your local Target or American Apparel -- along with a gold tank and lots of faux gold bangles and necklaces. Carry a small garden shovel. What exactly are you dressed as? A gold digger, of course.

Photo: Corbis Images

Four Ways to Fake Great Legs

After a long winter, you’re definitively ready to toss aside boots and leggings for sandals and short skirts. The question is: are your legs prepared for public display?

If gnarly toes, pasty calves and jiggly thighs are telling you “absolutely not,” don’t panic. You can get great, gorgeous legs with these easy beauty routine fixes and tricks.

1. Fake a Sunkissed Glow
No matter how long and lean your legs are, they’ll look even shapelier with a sunkissed glow. Drugstore shelves offer a wide variety of self-tanning products for an even, natural-looking tan that will leave your skin smelling great too. Here’s a guide to the formula that’s right for you.

  • Wash-off self-tanners These solutions create a temporary color that lasts about a day and washes away with soap and water. Apply one layer for a sheer look; add a second for deeper color.
  • Tanning mousses and gels Quick, but doesn’t dry instantly, so you can correct mistakes. The tint lets you see any spots you might have missed.
  • Daily self-tanning moisturizers Gradually builds a subtle glow with daily use. Foolproof, these are perfect for self-tanning novices.
  • Tanning lotion Produces the deepest caramels and bronzers for that “just back from St. Bart’s” look.
  • Tanning sprays The fastest way to achieve all-over coverage. Perfection takes practice; try this out a few times before a big event.

2. Pamper Your Feet
Squeezed into boots and forgotten for months, your feet are likely looking dry and callused, and your toes a bit ragged. Get them ready for their flip-flop debut with a spa pedicure that goes beyond just a file and polish.

Look for a service that offers these steps: a foot soak in a warm bath with moisturizing ingredients like essential oils; an exfoliating scrub to soften calluses and remove dead skin cells; a second scrub with a foot file to banish those calluses and other rough spots; a soothing massage followed by the application of a super-hydrating lotion that’s sealed by dipping your feet into warm paraffin or wrapping them in hot towels.

The final steps: shaping your toenails and applying polish. Scott Barnes, a makeup artist for such celebrities as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, suggests painting your toes in sheer nudes or a brown hue to make your legs look their longest. Nail stylist Reham Bastawros who prettifies the peds of Renee Zellweger and Miley Cyrus favors a splashier look: eye-catching colors like bubblegum pinks, citrus yellows, watermelon hues or a classic vixen red.

3. Choose Shoes That Elongate Your Legs
Fling aside those 4-inch tottering heels! Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman says this season, ’70s-inspired wedges will add height without straining the foot the way stilettos often do. Opt for shoes in nude or tones like blush-beige, khaki, brown or bronze that will trick the eye into thinking your legs and shoes are one lean, unbroken line. Avoid ankle straps -- they’ll chop your legs to make your gams look shorter than they are.

4. Tone Your Muscles
Want to rev up the definition of your legs in a flash? Dr. Philip L. Goglia, a Los Angeles nutritionist and trainer whose clients include Kim Delaney, Owen Wilson and Raven-Symone, suggests these three moves:

Wide-stance squats: Do them like a ballet plie, with toes angled outward, and a stance wider that your shoulders. Do five sets of 20 reps daily.

Hill- and flat-walking should be for 30 minutes (good) to an hour (better!) each day. Or, try stair-climbing for the same length of time.

Walking lunges: Great for your glutes! Just make sure that your knees don’t extend beyond your feet as you lunge. Work up to five sets of 20 lunges daily.

Shop for Your Best Little Black Dress

Take it from Coco Chanel, who popularized the little black dress, or LBD: “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.”

Before considering embellishments, pleats or other accessories, take into consideration the natural contours of your physique. “Our bodies, personalities and careers are all so different, [so] clothes should enhance our innate beauties and also be appropriate for the occasion,” says Mariane Perez, a former Preview Magazine staffer and currently a fashion designer and stylist of her namesake brand, Here, she offers suggestions on finding the perfect LBD for different body types and matching accessories that make sense. Plus, she reveals how to carry your clothes with confidence.

Pear/Apple Shape

Creating a shapelier silhouette entails offsetting larger parts of the body -- such as the torso, shoulders, or hips -- that may create a “visual imbalance” next to leaner parts. “If your hips are big, draw the eye upwards with voluminous details on top like ruffles or a structured shoulder,” suggests Perez. “If your bust is big, focus on creating volume in the bottom with a fuller skirt. Add a belt to cinch the waist for a sexy finish.” Perez says architectural shapes are also good for this category.


“Petites are based not on weight or size, but on proportion,” says Leah Feldon, author of Does This Make Me Look Fat? The Definitive Rules for Dressing Thin for Every Height, Size, and Shape. “So don’t be fooled by the word petite; it doesn’t really mean small. There are even plus-size petites!” she explains.

Look for black (or any solid color, for that matter) shift dresses that create a lean line or even flouncy numbers featuring shorter hemlines that visually elongate legs.

Tall and Boyish Frame

“Tall women are great canvasses for black, and they can pull off long gowns effortlessly.” (Charlize Theron and Miriam Quiambao come to mind.) If you’re worried about being too tall or too “straight,” Perez says you could opt for an empire-cut dress or simply add a waist-cinching belt. “This will create the illusion of an hourglass silhouette.”

Perez favors showing off a little skin for voluptuous women because being too covered-up can actually make one look bigger. “Scoop necks and V-necks are great, as they show off a beautiful décolletage and draw the eye upward,” says Perez, who encourages plus-sized women to take quality and fit into consideration. Simple, tailor-fit LBDs create a leaner and longer line on your body.

Make the Most out of Your LBD


“Go classic in a smattering of pearls or really go for it with a statement necklace or cuff,” suggests Perez. “In the case of the latter, keep other accessories to a minimum or better yet, nix them.” To avoid overdoing it, Perez goes by Chanel’s advice: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory.”

Buy the most expensive little black dress you can afford; it’s well worth the splurge as it will last you a long time and will practically pay for itself by the nth time you put it on. Go for quality, noting that this needn’t be ridiculously expensive. You just have to look in the right places and befriend a tailor who can do alterations on dresses you buy off the rack.

Launder With Love

As much as possible, hand-wash your LBD in cold water, using the gentlest detergent you can find to keep the color integrity and to get the most mileage out of this dress you’ll wear many, many times.