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How to Wear Black Leggings

Today we are doing a deep dive into how to wear black leggings. I was inspired by a question posted over in our Facebook Private Group.

“Am I getting too old for the tunic over leggings looks? I’m careful to stick with darker leggings, so I don’t look like I’m wearing a tiny dress. Thoughts?” 

See the entire question and all the thoughtful responses from our community here. 

First things first, as long time readers know, I don’t believe in worrying about our age when getting dressed. There are other factors to consider that will help you look your best in any situation

Regardless of our age, there is a way to wear leggings as an outfit AND look chic, modern, and sophisticated. 

Wearing leggings is more popular than ever. The athlesuire trend isn’t going anywhere. 

For today’s post I’m focusing specifically on black leggings. Since our goal here is to help you create a timeless and classic personal style, I would recommend ONLY wearing black leggings in these outfit formulas. 

How to Wear Black Leggings 

How to wear black leggings

As you can see, I avoid prints and patterns and keep to a solid color palette. If you’re trying to create a timeless, classic look, stick with sophisticated tones. Work with interesting texture, and mix neutrals.

Layer in some of your favorite accessories, like scarves and try to wear the jewelry you tend to save for special occasions in your daily looks. 

After living in leggings during all three of my pregnancies, I’m not here to recreate any of those looks, lol. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to fit and proportions.

Avoid “babydoll” tops, or tunics that are too clingy. They tend to look sloppy and outdated. 

Black Ponte Knit Leggings 

Old Navy Black Leggings


Old Navy High -Waisted “Stevie” Ponte Knit Leggings, $28 

Here I am in them:


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Let’s start by talking about the kind of legging to wear. 

Aside from them being black, the style of legging you choose to wear is important and will effect the overall feel of your outfit. 

Don’t wear the leggings you wear to the gym. They are too thin and not the right kind of sporty. Instead, you want to wear something substantial.

That’s why “Ponte” knit is a great choice. Ponte is a double knit, so you get the comfort of stretch with depth and coverage. They’ll feel more like a pant.

For an affordable option, I’m a big fan of the Old Navy High-Waisted “Stevie” Ponte Knit pants currently on sale for about $20 in sizes regular, tall, and petite up to an XXL and in plus size here

These are an excellent alternative to the  Zella-Live in a legging

Alternatively, these “Ponte Legging Pants” by American Giant get rave reviews; they are more expensive, but think of them as actual pants, not leggings. 

In the outfit formulas below, I’m featuring the Old Navy bottoms. If you’re feeling edgy, you can absolutely replace these with our favorite Spanx Faux Leather Legging

Pair with: A Tunic Blouse

Black leggings with a white popover top, denim jacket, black sneakers, gold studs, and a black crossbody bag.

High-Low Popover Tunic Top, $32 + Denim Jacket, $79 +Sneakers, $95  + Crossbody, $158 + Earrings, $98 

I love featuring items I know you already own, like this high-low tunic from J.Crew Factory. It keeps showing up on our Faves Lists. It’s just a crisp and classic blouse that is ideal for pairing with leggings. 

As a layer, I used another Readers Fave, the KUT denim jacket. I’ve had mine for years and still wear it frequently. 

In this look it’s okay for the shirttail of the top to peak out under the jacket. 

If you are looking for a comfortable, stylish sneaker to wear in your everyday outfits, go with these All Birds. They are of high quality, and you won’t look like you’re wearing your gym sneakers. 

Finally, a straightforward pair of gold ball-style studs fill in your ear without being too much, and a fantastic crossbody bag from Madewell will keep you handsfree with a ton of polish. 

Related: How to Dress up Leggings for the Holidays.

Pair With: An Oversized Sweater

Black leggings with a tan turtleneck sweater, brown booties, gold hoops, and a gold ring.

Sweater, $35 + Booties, $52 + Hoops, $65 + Ring, $50 

This is the kind of look I wear working from home or hanging with my kids. It allows me to do everything I do in a day, from sit on the floor with the baby to grab dinner out with my husband.

H&M makes some of the best-oversized sweaters to pair with leggings at fabulous prices. Look for one like what I featured above, with a high-low hem; it is the most flattering style for a top paired with leggings. You want something to cover your bum, but often, when the hem is cut evenly across, it can cut off your proportions and make you look frumpy.

The high-low hem allows you to maintain your height while feeling comfortable with how much you expose.

I like to mix neutrals like black, beige, and dark tan. The combination is quite elegant, so I added another favorite, these Sam Edelman booties in “saddle.” Scoop these up if you are still looking for a new pair of suede booties; they are on sale for $50, marked down from $130.

Then I added some fun accessories, like a these gold-tone updated hoop earrings and a statement ring

Related: How to Wear Faux Leather Leggings 

Pair With: A Long Cardigan

black leggings with a tan cardigan, white tank, black knee-high boots, and a leopard clutch


Cardigan, $52 + Tank, $8 + Boots, $140 + Leopard Clutch, $275 

Finally, grab a long cardigan. I like this one from Halogen at Nordstrom. It’s affordable and not too long, so many right now will make you look like you’re wearing your bathrobe if you’re not careful. 

Layer it over a simple tank. I LOVE this $8 option from Old Navy because it has some swing to it that will mimic the cardigan’s swing. You don’t want a tank here that is skin-tight; instead, look for one cut away from the body with a little movement. 

Zhush up the look with these gorgeous suede tall boots, also by Sam Edelman. Wearing a boot with leggings is an easy way to dress it up. 

I added this Clare V. leopard clutch because I want to show you how you can use leopard print as a neutral. It’s also on my wish list, but I haven’t bought it because we have no place fun to go right now. A good dupe is this foldover clutch from Tuckernuck that is under $50

Some Real Life Examples: 


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A post shared by The Well Dressed Life (@thewelldressedlife)



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A post shared by The Well Dressed Life (@thewelldressedlife)

 My 5 Best Tips for Styling Black Leggings

1. Keep your colors neutral and avoid prints and patterns.

2. Wear a “real” shoe, like a boot, sneaker, or even a pair of heels. 

3. Accessories! Incorporate some of your favorite pieces, like scarves, hoops and statement rings to add depth and interest. 

4. Don’t wear your gym leggings, instead opt for a “ponte” knit that will feel substantial, hold you in, and still allow for comfort. 

5. Pay close attention to proportions, while you will want something to cover you rear, don’t let your top consume you. Look for a top with a high-low hem to help create a long, lean line of the body. 


Our Style Content is Inspired by Our Readers

Our readership inspires all of our posts and is not sponsored or paid for by brands or retailers. 

Recommendations are based on my experience as a personal stylist and wardrobe consultant for over a decade. I worked with busy, down-to-earth women who wanted to look chic and feel confident but were often confused by so much of retail. 

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How to Wear Black Leggings

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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Graziella Camenzuli

Friday 15th of January 2021

Hi Megan, when you mention which shoes are ideal to wear with leggings, does a ballerina shoe fall under the category of a 'real' shoe please? Thanks for the great and practical tips!

Sandy A.

Thursday 14th of January 2021

I would appreciate seeing posts showing us how NOT to wear leggings. What's an example of an "overwhelming" top? What's an example of a "babydoll" top?


Wednesday 13th of January 2021

At 80 years of age, I still wear leggings from time to time.,....and try to adhere to all your excellent advice! The most comfortable leggings by far, I have found are made of bamboo. The weight is firm, yet thin enough and they keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I am a recent reader of your information and advice and am very appreciative of the approach you take, classic yet comfortable. Thank you.

Nancy Devincenzi

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

I am high waisted and leggings tend to roll on me. Talbot's seems to work well but Athleta does not...tried two styles. J Jill's brand has the thin waist band and I like that but the fabric is very thin. If anyone has leggings that work for them please let me know. I also carry my extra pounds in my waistline. Thank you, Nancy

LM Davis

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

I hate leggings! They look awful on a large number of people.

Megan Kristel

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

If you hate them, don't wear them. When styled well they work for many people.


Wednesday 13th of January 2021

Great info and styling tips..this is another keeper! I appreciate the looks you put together that are classy and at the same time, don’t break the bank. Thanks so much, Megan!