Duchess Kate joins the athleisure debate

Leggings are becoming the new jeans, but can workout pants really be stylish? These six options say ‘yes!’

Alex Huckle | Getty Images

As workout clothing gets more chic, it’s no surprise that leggings are being seen outside of the gym—at the supermarket, picking up the kids from school, or at the local coffee shop. Often, women are pulling on Pilates-like outfits even when they have no intention of hitting the gym. But where do you draw the line? Would you go to the movies in athleisure wear? How about to meet a friend for a casual dinner? Would you wear them to work on a Friday like you would jeans?

As the trend continues to grow—and the places women are wearing leggings continue to expand—the rules of athleisure are being debated in fashion circles, and all over the internet. Many people bemoan that leggings worn in public as pants promote a lack of modesty. Others praise their versatility and comfort.

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge visits the North Wales, United Kingdom.

Danny Martindale | Getty Images

But when Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, was spotted leaving Lululemon wearing leggings as pants under a cowl neck black sweater, one could argue that athleisure has received the royal seal of approval. And all signs point to a new idea: leggings, in many ways, are the new jeans. Though often praised for bringing comfort and elastic joy into our lives, in many cases, those same stretchy leggings can be worn with chic tops, leather jackets, kicky sneakers (like Kate has on here), and can even be paired with heels. Like jeans, leggings can be dressed down in casual settings, and dressed up for something more business-casual. Arguably, workout pants are even more versatile than jeans because they can also be used for their original purpose: working out.

Thinking of trying the trend? Here are five comfortable but stylish pairs of leggings that don’t necessarily look like leggings, and can be dressed up or down, as you see fit.

Black leggings Kate Spade

Stretch legging ($158, Kate Spade)

Woman crossing the street with black legging and heels.

Dress Pant workout pants with faux zipper ($78, Betabrand)

Black leggings Banana republic

Sloan-Fit five-pocket legging ($50, Banana Republic)

Woman in leggings and wrap cardigan ann taylor

Classic ponte zip pocket leggings ($50, Ann Taylor)

club monaco black leggings

Clodia studded legging in faux-leather, ($49, Club Monaco)


Biker leggings ($30, Zara)


Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.