On the Weekend
Any pair will do, but the Real Simple fashion department adores the Essential Legging from Spanx. Far from being a painfully compressing shapewear garment, this style has a wide waistband that stays snugly in place while smoothing out any lumps or bumps.
To go from pajamas to an outfit you’ll want to leave the house in (without sacrificing comfort), take it up a notch with a few well-chosen pieces. Add a lightweight turtleneck as an underpinning, and wrap it all up in a warm, eye-catching plaid cape. Flat, over-the-knee boots bring this classic fall look up to date.
To buy: Leggings, $98; neimanmarcus.com. Turtleneck, $13; hm.com. Cape: Unfortunately, this item is no longer available. A similar product can be found here. Boots, $120; chineselaundry.com. Necklace: Unfortunately, this item is no longer available. A similar product can be found here.
To the Office
Yes, you read that right! The trick here is choosing the right pairings—a high-quality fabric (like a thick ponte knit), tailored details (pockets, seams, embellishments) and an unexpectedly sophisticated color (like a deep shade of green)—lend structure that helps strike the perfect balance between a legging and a pant. To keep the look office-appropriate, opt for more traditional pieces to complete the outfit, like a collared blouse and refined pumps. A blazer with a long, “boyfriend” silhouette that hits below the hip (and covers your behind) will look just right.
To buy: Leggings, $98; jcrew.com. Top, $70; topshop.com. Blazer, $129; zara.com. Bag, $138; bananarepublic.com. Shoes, $89; ninewest.com. Cuff, $42; adiakibur.com.
Out for the Evening
Once you master this style, you’ll wonder what you ever did without it. Leggings toe the line between tights and pants, making them the ideal foundation for elegant tunics, which can otherwise be difficult to find the right bottoms for. To further elevate this look, skip cotton and opt for dressier textures, like leather (real or faux) to add a cocktail-appropriate feel.
To buy: Leggings, $39; joefresh.com. Blouse, $60; mango.com. Necklace: Unfortunately, this item is no longer available. A similar product can be found here. Clutch, $65; dillards.com. Ankle boots, $120; aldoshoes.com.
Love the idea of this most-comfortable of trends, but not sure how to pull it off? Just follow these three simple rules. First, mix fashion and function—look for pieces made from performance fabrics, but with next-level details like the faux-leather panels on this pair of leggings. Second, utilize accessories—like the icing on a cake, they pull everything together—that have a sporty feel, but aren't necessarily technical gym wear. And, lastly, stick to a color palette—gym-wear and athleisure come in all kinds of crazy colors, so to keep your outfit looking intentional, pick pieces in the same color family.
To buy: Leggings, $98; athleta.com. Shoes, $140; nike.com. Scarf, $17; oldnavy.com. Pullover, $45; gap.com. Vest, $129; eddiebauer.com.
Whether you’re celebrating a shower or just the fact that it’s Sunday, suede leggings (real or faux) offer the best of both worlds—they’re cozy and chic. Play up the texture by pairing them with other, similarly luxe materials, like a silky blouse and velvet accessories.
To buy: Leggings, $69; shoptiques.com. Shoes, $99; ninewest.com. Blouse, $93; shoptiques.com. Coat, $230; mango.com. Scarf, $16; zara.com.