Leggings in the form of skin-tight trousers, a tighter version of the capris ending at mid-calf or near ankle length, made its way into fashion in the 1960s and were worn with a large belt or waistband and slip-on high heels or ballet flat-styled shoes.Leggings made from a nylon-lycra blend (usually 90% nylon, 10% lycra) have traditionally been worn during exercise. Nylon lycra leggings are often referred to as bicycle or running tights, and are shinier in appearance than those made from cotton. Some have racing stripes or reflective patterns to further distinguish them as athletic wear and provide extra safety. However, beginning in the 1980s exercise-style leggings have also been worn for fashion and as street wear.
Leggings made from cotton-lycra, or a cotton-polyester-lycra combination, are more typically worn for fashion, but are also worn as exercise wear. Cotton-lycra leggings are available in many colors, prints and designs; but black, navy and various shades of gray remain the most commonly worn. Opaque leggings are also common among women, and are sometimes worn without skirts. Wearing black leggings under long, often diaphanous, skirts was part of a general fashion trend of wearing gym or dance clothes as street wear that evolved along with the fitness craze and under the influence of the movie Flashdance and the long-running Broadway show A Chorus Line. A more recent trend has been the wearing of black leggings with miniskirts.
By the early-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States.It was very common to see leggings worn with long oversized t-shirts, oversized sweatshirts or oversized sweaters, slouch socks and Keds by girls from toddler age through tween, teen, college age and older. Moms even wore this leggings outfit right along with their daughters. Fashion turned against leggings in the late 1990s.
In 2005, leggings made a “comeback” into high fashion, particularly in indie culture, with capri-length leggings being worn with mini skirts and dresses. Consequently, leggings are also now popular to wear with oversized, long sweaters, denim short dresses and shortmini skirts, plaid skirts. Leggings are also worn under athletic shorts i.e. Nike Tempo shorts especially in colder weather. Leggings also come in capri length and bike short length. The bike short length is popular under sports uniform shorts and under skirts and dresses as a fashionable item and to keep from showing too much. This trend towards tight pants can alternately be seen in the resurgence of skinny jeans.