What the NYT Chief Fashion Critic Really Thinks About Leggings

We prefer the contents of our closets to come with no strings attached. We can wear them with and however we want. But if you were to ask a trusted resource—say the chief fashion critic at The New York Times—to provide some insight, well, we’d strongly consider taking that advice. Such was the case with Vanessa Friedman, said critic and fashion director of the NYT, who offers some thoughts on legging in her latest newsletter (a must-subscribe for all fashion fans, at least as far as I am concerned).

For Friedman’s latest email, a mother wrote in to ask her what practical outfits she should wear for an upcoming trip to Paris: “Is it truly terrible to wear leggings and skirts with sneakers?” While skirts and sneakers got a thumbs-up from the fashion journalist, she also provided an interesting insight. “If you want to wear leggings, wear them with sandals or ballet flats instead,” Friedman wrote. “It’s all in the contrast; the deflating of formality via easy footwear, or the transformation of stretch into Audrey Hepburnesque style.”

Jeans and sneakers have become a pretty widely accepted daytime look as far as buzzy celebs like the Hadid sisters are concerned, but the idea of striking a contrast feels a bit more unexpected, fresh, and, in this case, “Audrey Hepburnesque”—never a bad thing. “Leggings together with sneakers, by contrast, make you look as though you are coming from the gym,” Friedman also pointed out.

Do with this opinion what you will, but if you want to create a bit more of a deviation between the stretchy black pants you wear to pilates and the ones you wear to stroll along the Champs-Élysées, here’s where the above advice comes in hand.

Scroll down to shop some of our favorite pairs of leggings.

For the rest of Vanessa Friedman’s spot-on insights and reporting, subscribe to her weekly newsletter, Open Thread.