Women's jeans

Skinny jeans vs. leggings: a case for both styles and how to wear them.

What's the deal with skinny jeans and leggings? Though they look similar, they're actually two very different types of pants. Both styles have their place in a well-stocked wardrobe though, and they can be worn in dozens of ways.

Skinny jeans have a slim silhouette and a small opening at the ankle. They're found in a variety of styles, including high, mid and low-rise, and often have a little stretch to help them fit better. The right pair works on almost any body type, whether you're little and curvy or tall and lean, though you may need to have them hemmed if you're on the shorter side.

Leggings are soft and super stretchy, giving them a second-skin feel. Though they're typically made from a combination of Lycra and nylon, materials like cotton, leather and suede are also popular. Most styles have an elastic waist and lack the details you find on typical jeans, like pockets, rivets and zippers.

Almost any kind of shirt goes well with skinnies. If you're new to wearing skinny jeans, opt for a long-over-lean style direction. Your close-fitting skinny jeans provide the lean look. Amplify your legs with a heeled bootie, wedge sandal or platform shoe. Add the long with a shirt or sweater that falls to your lower hip. Skinny jeans are natural match for tunics, flowing pullovers and hip-length cardigans. Once you build up your style courage a bit, try them with shorter tops and anything you like wearing tucked-in, like a blouse or tee. A pair of skinny jeans, tucked-in t-shirt, contrast belt and casual blazer is an easy look you'll want to wear again and again.

Leggings, however, require more coverage – you'll need a top that falls below your derriere and won't ride up when you move. Anything shorter puts you at risk of serious overexposure. Some leggings are typically made from thin fabric, they can reveal whatever you have on underneath, including those adorable polka dot underpants. We recommend looking for a more substantial fabric, like ultra-flattering ponte knit. Lands' End Starfish Leggings are thick enough to prevent see-through, so you can wear them a little more liberally. Trust us on this one: if you're not seeing a Lands' End label in your leggings, proceed with caution.

If you love layering, you'll find leggings indispensable. Wear them under a dress or a skirt on cold days and they'll keep you toasty. Toss on a cute fall sweater that reaches to your knees, add some matching leggings and tall leather boots. They're also nice for relaxing around the house, and can feel as cozy as your favorite jammies.

When the occasion calls for something fancier, you should reach for a pair of well-made skinny jeans in a dark rinse. They're great with almost all footwear (including pumps, flats and loafers) and quality denim looks polished in a way leggings can't quite match. Add a cashmere top, a structured blazer or a silk shirt before completing your ensemble with elegant accessories, like delicate gold earrings or a simple necklace, and you'll be ready for work at a smart-casual office, or a date with your sweetie.

Having a hard time deciding whether it's a skinnies day, or time for your go-to leggings? When you can't make up your mind, consider jeggings – leggings that look like they're made from denim. They're incredibly easy to move in, and let you enjoy the best of both worlds.

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