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What To Wear Instead Of Leggings This Fall

Summer is far from over, but many stores are clearing out summer stock to prepare for fall so I thought I would answer a reader’s question about leggings. Many women find the entire prospect of leggings out of the question but for others, the comfort is impossible to give up. They never bind around the tummy, they’re as comfy as jammies and can be dressed up if needed. What’s fabulous about leggings also exists in other bottoms so let’s explore what you can wear instead of leggings this fall.

jennifer connolly of a well styled life wearing stretch pants and ballet flats with white shirt and scarf

First, let’s talk about the fabric. Leggings are not tights and they shouldn’t even come close. They look best in thick, totally opaque fabrics like ponte, crepe, heavy microfiber, ultra suede, etc. If you get the fabric right, it opens up lots of possibilities.

What to wear instead of leggings

Tights are skin tight all the way down and less forgiving than any other options. Slim, slightly flared, or wide and flowy are elevated alternatives that are just as comfy.


Cigarette Pants

These are slim through the hips and thighs but don’t strangle the calves. They’re most comfortable in a pull-on style, but also available with side and back zippers for ease of taking on and off. They could be tucked into tall boots but look best with sandals or shoes.

stretch pull on cigarette shape leggings

This pant is made in tons of colors in regular and plus sizes and carried by many retailers. I’ve worn these for as long as I can remember and never travel without a few pairs. They could double as pajama’s yet I have worn them to many dressy occasions. They’re machine wash and dry and last for years!


Pull-on Jeans

These come in everything from skinny legs to wide flares. Many have 5 pocket styling and stitching to resemble a zipper front. They look best with the waistband either totally covered or a half-tuck that’s bloused to cover the waistband.

pull-on jeans

These come in a dark and lighter wash, sized in regular and tall, 0 – 22.


Stretch Flares instead of Leggings

The flare adds balance to wider hips and has a more graceful shape than a legging that is skin tight all the way down. These will never look like exercise tights. Rather than tucked into booties, these float over them and help your legs look longer.

stretch flares

The ponte knit fabric is a more sophisticated option than many leggings yet looks just as good with sneakers as leather shoes. These have a stitched front seam which is also slimming and draws the eye up and down the leg for an elongating look. These have a nice high rise and are sized in regular and plus, 0 – 28W. Here’s a plus-size ribbed option in black or tan.


All of the above shapes look great styled with tunics and hip-length tops. Leggings on the other hand should not be worn with anything that doesn’t cover your backside.

Related –The Modern Way to Wear Leggings After 50

Are leggings on your radar for this fall?





  1. How about for warm summer? Jody

  2. Love leggings! I have several pairs. They are just so easy to wear around the house, going for walks and running errands. Don’t think I will give them up. All that you showed were really great. Gives us more ideas!

  3. Have several pairs of Leggings…absolutely love them so so comfortable. Going for a walk with my puppies or to run errands, they are my up of tea. Will need to get them out from the back of my closet, too hot for our Florida weather right now. Jennifer, I love the skyline of Vancouver, it is so beautiful and that sunset, oh my gosh!!

    1. I feel so blessed to be here.

  4. Who makes the pants you have on? They are cute and living in South perfect for fall weather. I love the ideas you have not always things I would try.

  5. I love leggings! I have them, mostly in black, many different brands and many different weights. I only wear them in the winter, so I’m very interested in checking out some of the brands of pants mentioned here. Interesting and informative post. Thanks Jennifer!

  6. I love Eileen Fisher stretch crepe. Five pairs in different colors hang in my closet- ready for fall, winter and spring. Check out Liverpool Jean Gia Gliders for another pull on jean option. They made the “Oprah’s Favorites” list for a reason. Snug, comfortable, skinny legs all for around $100 US. I love them!

    1. I love Liverpool but haven’t tried those so I will check them out, thanks.

  7. Arizona weather dictates my wardrobe choices more than tides of fashion. Capris, ankle pants, white jeans, athleisure, and yes, tasteful leggings, remain resort-worthy mainstays almost year round. Hem detail (ruching, buttons, slits) elevate many pant silhouettes. Suede and smooth-leather booties–and accompanying bootcut pants in ponte –appear briefly in chilly weather, yet are so fun! Thanks for helping us to explore new cuts and fabrics.

  8. I like belt loops on pants and none of the pants I see featured have them. Are there any pants with belt loops out there?

  9. I love my leggings. Have them in a verity of colors. Starting to like the flare look a bit.
    Yes, me liking a flare. (Anything is possible).
    They ( all styles ) are amazingly comfortable.
    Thanks Jennifer for getting me to try a new style. 😊

  10. Yes, I like the pull on , flat stretch waist, slim pants as alternative to leggings. Different tops require different pants. I have them in denim pairs and black . Macy have them in different price ranges and styles . Boot cut, straight, or wider leg , some slimmer ones. I like that there are so many choices now. You just have to get out there and try them on.

  11. Have lots of leggings – for barre class or when Ive just come home from class and haven’t yet changed. I never put them on if I’m not going to class, even though I think I look okay in them. I just don’t think of them as the basis for an outfit.

  12. Check out the Departure ankle length pants by Eddie Bauer. They’re lightweight and have a pull-on waist making them SO comfortable. They look sharp and travel well. Plus there are pockets!

  13. You gave me some great ideas! Thank you!!!!!!!!

  14. Thank you for all the great details. I am a huge fan of leggings (Athleta) and pull-on jeans (Ethyl). A friend suggested pull-on pants to me and I really resisted thinking that they fell into the “old ladyish” category; memories of elastic waist pants. But I tried them on and instantly fell in love. They are amazingly slimming, so comfy and the lycra in the fabric makes it wrinkle free. WIN-WIN-WIN !! Now that we are travelling again, they are perfect for air or car travel (for those of us who still want to look nice when we travel – I know, kind of old fashioned). Also, Ann Taylor has had cigarette pants (different name for them), which I have purchased. Same fit as leggings, but two notches up in style.

    One brand name of pull-on pants with a great fit is Elliott Lauren.

    1. Awesome, thanks for sharing that brand! I’m old-fashioned too. I always dress nicely when we travel.

  15. Barb from Canada says:

    Very informative, thank you. On my very petite self I do not like leggings, as when I wear a tunic, etc, to “cover my butt”, makes my legs even shorter, so I try to avoid them except for walking the dog! Enjoyed seeing the other options. Thanks again for the various options to consider.

  16. I love the Juliet pants from Chicos.

  17. Like Lori, I find leggings flatter others, not me. I’m a runner and my calves are very muscular. Maybe it’s my entire leg shape, not sure, but leggings are not flatteringly to my legs. Thanks for all the other options, those cigarette pants look quite interesting!

  18. Not a legging fan and even soft yoga pants have gone for all but at home jobs. I am a huge fan of pull on pants in many leg styles, but for me not a cropped look. I just don’t like the look on me. I find the pull on styles are a better fit for my hip to waist ratio. Thanks for all the options this morning Jennifer, and worth a deeper dive.

  19. I’ve got to be faster. Attempted to order 4 of your suggestions and they sold out before I could check out. Please give us more as you find them. I’ve been searching for something between a legging and a straight. I’m new and loving you blog.

    1. Welcome, Pat! Will do

  20. It’s hard to pry me out of my Zella live in leggings, but I bought some in ponte from Banana Republic that are thicker and not as tight through the calves, even though they are called leggings. Your other options are fine too. But, while reasonably comfortable, I don’t find jeggings to be as comfortable as leggings. I wear my leggings in solid, dark colors, and do always cover up both tummy and backside. It’s probably not the most flattering thing I could wear, but it looks just fine. Many days, I want to go for a walk and then run errands, so I’m looking for versatile, modern athleisure looks. There are “wrong” ways to wear leggings, but you could say that about a lot of other items of clothing too. In my wardrobe, they are here to stay.

    1. They are for many women too:)

    2. Can you please give me more information about the leggings you described from Banana Republic? I’d like to order some for myself.

  21. Paulette Levy says:

    I’m seriously looking at updating last years leggings (Talbots and Ann Taylor and Loft) some with cute buttons at ankle – to the pull on jeans maybe blues and or black?
    I’d need petite cigarette pants and a fabric other than crepe which I don’t care for.
    The search is on!

    1. Sounds like a great plan!

  22. Thank you so much for this post! I find leggings are great – for other people. I just don’t find them comfortable or flattering for myself. So I am always looking for good alternatives, and now I have a bunch of choices! Excellent roundup and explanation of the specific cuts and fabrics to look for.

    1. I don’t own a pair of leggings. Pull on slacks, jeans, capris and shorts fit me best. These days the waist bands are smooth and not puckered or gathered. Ankle length is flattering with the right color of shoe. And a bootcut is flattering for cool and cold weather.

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