For the past several years, runways have witnessed the resurrection of a favourite '80s fashion staple: leggings. Immortalised in Madonna's "Like a Virgin" video, leggings are as symbolic of the era as the singer herself, and top designers like Derek Lam, Donatella Versace and Thakoon Panichgul have embraced and updated this iconic '80s classic. Leggings today are much more sophisticated and chic than their ancestors, and are frequently worn similarly to the skinny pant as a base for layering. Designer Donna Karan, who introduced leggings to the fashion world back in 1985, still wears them today. Some women may be hesitant to sport the leggings look, especially if they were around for the first incarnation. But several stylists and designers have offered tips and ideas on how to successfully channel your inner Material Girl.
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Unlike baggy trousers and T-shrits, a leggings and tunic combination is a great way to be both fashionable and comfortable on your dress-down days, says image consultant Kathryn Rowlett. Fashion blogger at Glamour.com Tracey Lomrantz agrees, and advises that shoppers should look for a tunic that hits below their derrière for the most flattering look. Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli showed ruched leggings paired with tunics in their spring/summer 2010 collection.
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Stephanie Unger, co-owner of the clothing store Dylan in San Francisco, combines capri leggings with long baby doll dresses to create a sporty, youthful look. Unger feels this look shows off slender calves. Also, designer Donatella Versace recently paired leggings with a sleek purple silk-jersey mini dress. "Those sleek, clean lines and smooth, straight silhouettes can be interpreted in a variety of ways," Versace says, "and they make women's legs look great!"
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Fashion Designer Thakoon Panichgul recommends wearing leggings with a coat dress, or a trench coat that can be worn as a dress. He also recommends sticking to darker colours, like black or brown to create a slim line. Derek Lam's 2006 collection also paired leggings with a maxi-length khaki trench. Lam has found leggings to be one of his most popular items. "It's a new way of looking at what is sophisticated and edgy," he explains. "I think it's a trend where there are multiple options." Designer Stella McCartney paired oversized coats with leggings that were treated to look like animal skins for her winter 2010 collection.
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The Gucci collection presented in February 2009 glammed up the vintage classic by pairing silk leggings with crystal studded T-shirts. Gucci designer Frida Giannini herself appeared at the end of the show wearing one of the T-shirts over a pair of iridescent leggings.