Daily Mail

THEY’RE BACK! But would YOU spend £700 on a pair of black LEGGINGS? The High Street to the rescue

- By Shane Watson Additional research: ALICE HARE

YES, it’s true. Phoebe Philo — darling of the fashion world, whose first collection under her own name went on sale last week — has put leggings front and centre of the clothes on offer.

Two styles, one in black, one in muted olive-green, and both in skin-tight Lycraesque polyamide — a lot like the exercise leggings you can buy in Sweaty Betty or Lululemon, only these ones cost £700 and they sold out in minutes.

These are not the only black leggings out there, or even the most expensive: Saint Laurent’s stirrup- style leggings cost £770 and designer labels including Gucci, Miu Miu and Stella McCartney all have leggings in their current collection­s.

Just when we were getting used to baggier and baggier trousers, just when we really had put away the skinny jeans for good and accepted that leg-clinging looks are over, it’s beginning to look a lot like leggings will be top of the fashion charts for Christmas.

There are leggings in H&M (£18.99, coated in elastane), Zara (£22.99, stirrup ones) and in Mango (£22.99, a lot like the Saint Laurent version, styled with a leather blazer and court shoes). Yesterday, Marks & Spencer announced customers had snapped up almost half a million pairs of its £17.50 highwaiste­d jeggings — not as challengin­g as regular leggings but, still, the ball is rolling.

Shocking though it may be having just invested in your tent-like jeans, leggings are back. Is this really possible?

Yes, because former Celine designer Phoebe Philo has never put a fashion foot wrong, never made a move that didn’t filter down eventually and become a fashion norm (example: she was the first to wear pristine white trainers with tailoring years before smart trainers became our go- witheveryt­hing footwear) and she has an instinct for anticipati­ng what women end up wearing, even if they’re not paying her prices.

When Philo says haute leggings are what her customers want, you know that if you haven’t seen them around yet, you will.

Hers come with wavy chevron detailing and a zip pocket in the back and are cut low on the foot with a split at the ankle. They look a lot like the leggings you wear to walk the dog, or to go to the gym, but on the website they’re paired with a big-shouldered, padded leather coat, high platform mules with gleaming buckles and big earrings.

These leggings are not designer athleisure wear for rich women. They’re never going near a gym or getting close to a pair of trainers.

THEY’RE the new, ultracling tuxedo trousers to wear out — and that’s how other designers showed them, with high heels and long-line, double-breasted jackets or short, faux-fur coats.

If it sounds a little bit Eighties, that’s because it is.

There’s another reason leggings are making a comeback: women have grown up with leggings, we have a long- standing love-hate relationsh­ip with them, and we know leggings keep re-inventing themselves because we’ve been on the journey with them. For better or worse, they’re part of our lives.

We all remember those highwaiste­d black spandex leggings Olivia Newton- John wore in Grease in 1978 and some of us tried to copy. There was the Lycra and cotton pair you wore with a big sweater, tucked into threequart­er-length boots in the 1980s; the thicker, almost ski-pant style that worked with a smart jacket and loafers in the 1990s; and the smooth faux-leather pair (one of Topshop’s finest moments, as they were surprising­ly flattering and cosy) that you wore in the 2000s with a polo-neck sweater and biker boots.

Or maybe you were never a ‘fashion’ leggings kind of woman, but then you took up exercise in earnest some years back and the next thing you knew you were trading up from your bulky grey joggers to proper sportswear leggings, with ankle- zips and reflector trims, that not only did the job, but made you feel slimmer, fitter, less wobbly and surprising­ly smart.

A lot of women in the past decade have discovered that the right athletic leggings give you legs and it’s spawned a whole yummy-mummy look (leggings

and a puffer or a gilet, plus diamond stud earrings).

It started on the school run and gradually seeped over into the rest of the day, so that now we’ve got used to seeing well- groomed women, of all ages, out and about, wearing athleisure wear on their bottom halves. Moving on from that, there’s been the postlockdo­wn sportswear creep. If you hadn’t already discovered you could get up in sleek, comfortabl­e, exercise leggings, sort of intending to go to a Pilates class, and then nip to the shop and meet a friend for coffee and walk the dog, all without so much as doing up a zip, you’d worked it out by the end of lockdown and the start of Working From Home.

Now every fourth woman you see in the street is wearing what could be a pair of tights, leaving very little to the imaginatio­n. Mamils (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) have their cycling shorts; Mawils (Middle Aged Women in Lycra) and younger women have their exercise leggings which they feel comfortabl­e wearing pretty much anywhere. Maybe it’s even revenge for the cycling shorts.

But be in no doubt that the new haute leggings are as different to these leggings as Uggs are to leather thigh-boots.

Thanks to advances in fabric technology, they are even more flattering. They’re just thick enough to contain your legs and they make them look longer, either with a slit in the hem, a line up the middle or strategica­lly placed seams. But the most flattering part of all is down to the way you’re expected to wear them this time — which is with a big blazer or a roomy thigh-grazing boyfriend shirt and, crucially, always with heels.

Your top half needs to be oversize and strong shouldered to contrast with the spray-on skimpy bottom — hence the Henry VIII silhouette leather coat showcased by Philo — and the heels are essential, both to elongate your legs and to give these haute leggings the glamourous lift that separates them from those other leggings we’ve all got in the weekend/loungewear drawer.

Something else that distinguis­hes the old parklife leggings from the new Park Avenue version, is never having your bottom or crotch on show. Slip your Chanel-style boucle jacket on top if it’s long enough, or button up a tweedy blazer or a tuxedo, just make sure everything is covered to the top of your thigh.

No one is suggesting this look will work for everyone, because it won’t. And the hardest of all to wear — stirrup leggings — seem to be the ones gaining traction fastest. Still, models, actresses, and your 20somethin­g daughter will no doubt be giving it a whirl because there’s another reason why leggings are back. A lot of women, of all ages, really want to show off their legs.

Victoria Beckham’s been wearing tight stirrup leggings with high heels since 2018. Rihanna gave them a go when she was pregnant. And this week model and influencer Hailey Bieber stepped out in the full Saint Laurent legging look.

But just remember, if you see them on a red carpet in future, the Phoebe Philo ones with the lightning zigzags are the very last word in cool.

 ?? ?? Fashion favourite: The £700 leggings from Phoebe Philo’s new collection
Fashion favourite: The £700 leggings from Phoebe Philo’s new collection
 ?? ?? In the black: Rosie Huntington- Whiteley
In the black: Rosie Huntington- Whiteley
 ?? ?? Stylish short cut: Emily Ratajkowsk­i
Stylish short cut: Emily Ratajkowsk­i
 ?? ?? Close fit: Kim Kardashian
Close fit: Kim Kardashian
 ?? ?? M&S £17.50
M&S £17.50
 ?? ?? Ahead of the pack: Victoria Beckham in 2018
Ahead of the pack: Victoria Beckham in 2018
 ?? ?? Model look: Hailey Bieber in Saint Laurent
Model look: Hailey Bieber in Saint Laurent
 ?? ?? H&M £18.99
H&M £18.99
 ?? ?? £3,315, Schiaparel­li, schiaparel­li.com £3,315
£3,315, Schiaparel­li, schiaparel­li.com £3,315
 ?? ?? £1,595, Ferragamo, ferragamo.com £1,595
£1,595, Ferragamo, ferragamo.com £1,595
 ?? ?? £1,320, Alaia, net-a-porter.com £1,320
£1,320, Alaia, net-a-porter.com £1,320
 ?? ?? £640, Gucci, farfetch.com £640
£640, Gucci, farfetch.com £640
 ?? ?? £890, Miu Miu, miumiu.com £890
£890, Miu Miu, miumiu.com £890
 ?? ?? £645, Saint Laurent, ysl.com £645
£645, Saint Laurent, ysl.com £645

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