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Jeggings: Denim gets a new stretch

Bye-bye, sausage casings. Hello, jeggings. The hybrid has more give than skinny jeans and is dressier than leggings.

January 17, 2010|By Melissa Magsaysay
  • COMFORTABLY SNUG: Jeggings feature a more forgiving fabric than that of skinny jeans. From left, Prvcy, $136 at; Citizens of Humanity, $198 at; Joes, $84 at; GoldSign, $216 at; J Brand, style 901 denim leggings in Pitch, $139 at Ron Herman.
COMFORTABLY SNUG: Jeggings feature a more forgiving fabric than that of… (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

For those who love the sleek look of a skinny jean but can't stand the leg-sucking compression, impossibly small openings at the ankles or rigid denim digging into skin, the skinny jean/legging hybrid known as jeggings could be a worthy alternative -- or just one more reason to feel like their thighs will never be toned enough.

The denim legging is the next frontier in the skinny shape that won't seem to go away in the denim industry.

"The skinny silhouette is so prevalent in fashion right now," J Brand creative director Susie Crippen says. "The big sweaters, high boots and skinny jeans are all a part of the silhouette of the season, and the industry has to jump on that bandwagon."

Premium denim brands such as GoldSign, Citizens of Humanity and J Brand all have denim leggings in their spring lines, and Crippen is certain the trend will move forward into next fall. Who's buying them? The same customer who has been wearing the skinny jean for years -- celebs such as Jessica Simpson, Ashley Tisdale and Rashida Jones, and twenty- and thirtysomethings who are trend-conscious and comfortable with the popular silhouette of skinny bottom and more voluminous top.

For those who have shunned skinny jeans because they'd rather not squeeze themselves into what feels like sausage casing, trying out denim leggings can be a scary experience. But the jegging fabric is much more forgiving and the waistbands are higher than in previous skinny jean styles, which can help minimize or even eliminate unsightly muffin tops.

If you are willing to experiment, Crippen has advice on how to make the look work. "Make sure your shirt comes down to your mid-thigh, and if you feel squat in the look, wear heels or ankle boots," she says. "It's just a matter of looking in the mirror and knowing your proportions are right and you're comfortable."

Jeggings have the stovepipe shape of a skinny jean plus the wearability and comfort of a legging but without the overtly casual look and gradually saggy bottom of the latter.

One main difference between denim leggings and regular leggings is the jean-like waistband with a proper button closure and zipper, which gives the top more structure and adds flexibility to the way they can be worn.

"Something heavier with a pocket and waistband can be more versatile to wear like you would a jean," Crippen says.

While there may be no change in the daunting silhouette of the denim legging, the stretch and weight factor makes them feel and move better than a rigid pair of denim skinny jeans.

"Our denim legging has a 5% stretch with a 7-ounce fabric, and the denim is 2% stretch in a 10-ounce fabric," Crippen says. The differences may seem subtle, but when you're talking centimeters added to or subtracted from your hips and inner thighs, every little bit counts.

"It's a very Jean Seberg, late '60s vibe," Crippen says. "I just watched 'Bye Bye Birdie,' and everyone is wearing little cropped leggings -- they were high-waisted of course -- and short shirts. It's not like it's a new silhouette. Actually, dudes started the whole trend. Thanks a lot, Robin."

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