Thanks to the rise of workleisure (AKA activewear that's totally office-apropos), leggings are undergoing a makeover—almost as life-changing as the advent of sweat-wicking fabrics. It's entirely possible to find pairs these days that blend in so seamlessly with business casual pieces like blazers and banker shirts, you wouldn't even know they're intended for exercising.
Perhaps the best example of this style of incognito tight is the cropped flare, a chic silhouette more often associated with denim or tapered trousers than athletic clothing—and popularized by stylish women throughout the years, from Audrey Hepburn to Alexa Chung. The trend resurfaced in ready-to-wear collections last year, and now, it’s making a play for room in your leggings drawer.
"When a pant silhouette is slightly flared, it can be dressier and [more] versatile."
Unlike on runways, where the volume of flare veered anywhere from barely there to full-blown bell bottom, the activewear iteration is more succinct. “[It's] a super skinny style that hugs you all the way down to your ankles,” says Eunice Cho, founder of Aella, a workwear line that uses performance fabric to create suiting-style pants you could don for an investors meeting in the morning, leave on for a lunchtime meditation session, and then rock out for drinks after work—without needing to undergo a wardrobe change. Why? "When a pant silhouette is slightly flared, it can be dressier and [more] versatile," Cho explains.
An example is Aella's Slim Pintuck pant, $185, which wears like a legging—ultra-forgiving elastic waistband and all—but can be pulled on for low-impact exercising like Pilates, yoga, or biking. Another particularly polished, office-ready take on the look? Tory Sport’s tech Ponte Cropped Flare Pants ($185). Fashion designer and frequent traveler Tory Burch created her leggings from a wrinkle-free fabric, which is especially handy if your final destination post flight happens to be a boardroom.
And while this trend definitely leans heavier on the leisure than the athletic side of workout wear, there are iterations able to stand up to the intensity of interval training or cardio classes—like Free People's FP Movement Kick It Flare ($85) and Athleta's Salutation Kick Flare ($45), which is the most treadmill-bound of the bunch. Who's ready to invest in a TrekDesk?
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