3 Ways to Wear a Dress Over Pants

Every fall, I challenge myself to stay out of tights for as long as possible. They are so constricting it both physically hurts my stomach and emotionally batters my heart to think that my legs might not see the light of day for the greater part of a year. This is a concern that comes up only because I am an advocate for the abolition of pants (or leg coverings at large, really). But then again, you know what they say, right? Your enemy’s enemy is your friend and in the battle between tights and pants, pants win my affection by a landslide. I’d count the ways but what’s the use? I’m not here to waste your time. I apologize, in fact, for the above throat clearing. Let’s just get into it instead: Here is a photographic list of three ways to cover your legs without using tights.

1. Do It In All Denim Because You Miss 2012


J.Crew shirt, Marni dress, Brock jeans, Tory Burch shoes, Lucy Folk sunglasses

What? It was a great year! Vintage Levi’s were still novel, people were putting anything that would fit under a denim shirt or jean jacket onto their chests and getting dressed was so easy because no one had referred to easy dressing as normcore yet, so no felt bad about looking like a cultural statement. The good news is, you still won’t look like a cultural statement because you’re the insane person wearing a denim dress over jeans with a denim jacket and so many gold chains to match your shoes. Well done! Nice Croakies.

2. Do It With Stirrup Leggings 

Chloé shearling sweatshirt, Veda dress, H&M leggings, Manolo Blahnik pumps, Trademark bag

I call this one the Céline/Balenciaga mashup because both designers advocate the wearing of leggings under dresses and one such designer has gone so far as to develop stirrup leggings (Balenciaga) while the other is sending silk dresses down her runway like it is her job, which I guess it is. Add a shearling sweatshirt if you have one, but a trench coat will do just fine, too.

3. Do It Without Pants


Maison Margiela sweater, J.Crew turtleneck, Walk of Shame slip dress, Miu Miu skirt, Natasha Zinko shoes

Defy the odds! You make the rules. If you still can’t bring yourself to wear pants (I get it, I’m with you), just don’t. Turn a miniskirt into a peplum and wear it over one of the manifold slip dresses I probably manipulated you into purchasing earlier this year. If you want, you can add a striped turtleneck and, essentially, a clear sweater, but you don’t have to. This is just a thought starter.

Can I ask you an honest question now? How frequently should one eat smoked salmon?

Photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • One should eat smoked salmon as frequently as one is presented with a cream cheese bagel.

    Please do more pants under dresses, I will never get tired of seeing them and I am SO close to braving it myself. Am I right to deduce from many years of reading MR style tutorials that casual shoes simply won’t work with this? I have a handful of banal heels, but I don’t own fancy heeled shoes (pointless as a fashion assistant with no social life) and I wonder if I should start investing, for general life purposes and for pants under skirts and dresses.

    • I say go with whatever you think fits. Must say I’m a bit annoyed with heels, it’s almost a safe bet. Pull something unusual off, wear heals, ta-daa. The denim one would definitely work without them, too!

  • First look is def my fave! Need to try that triple denim formula!


  • Quinn Halman

    Look 1 has pushed out the Canadian Tuxedo and has replaced it with the Canadian Wedding Gown

    • Too real. And I love it. And I miss Canada & Canadians so much. Saw a kid w a Roots shirt yesterday lol and even got sentimental about that!!

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    Can you guys do a “minimalist dressing that isn’t boring” piece? I prefer minimalist looks but then often end up looking the same as a million other people could. Minimal ways (haaa) to spice it up would be good to see!

    • Yvonne Dunlevie

      Love this idea!

      • Leandra Medine

        Me too! Me too! It’s all in the accessories. We will definitely put together

    • Svenja

      Great idea! I guess many people can rely to being more of a tomboy aka a jeans/sweater/sneakers-person but still not wanting to look like every minimalist street fashion pic on Pinterest (you know which pictures I mean: vintage Levis, a chunky knit sweater and Stan Smiths). Would love to see Manrepeller’s take on this, because there must be better ways to dress simple.

  • Katherine

    Depends on the mercury level of the salmon.

  • Lísa Attensperger

    I wear pants under dresses all year round because where I live it’s hardly ever warm enough!
    I also come from the country with the *best* smoked salmon, and my philosophy is: definitely eat it it every chance you get! (even if you don’t have a bagel and cream cheese nowhere near you, because like cheese, smoked salmon is great on its own.)

  • I remember this was a thing back in the day. So glad it is a thing again! Perfect for the cold weather in London x


  • Jenn

    Leandra is really trying to make pants under dresses happen! Gotta love your determination, girl! You look great, unique and fun whatever you wear!

    • She ain’t trying, honey, she’s BEEN making pants under skirts happening for as long as Man Repeller repelled man!!! It’s like MR 101!

  • Hannah

    If it’s wild salmon, all the time, every day. No mercury worries there!

    • Leandra Medine


  • Jolie

    You look great, Leandra (especially in Outfit #2!), but I can never bring myself to wear dresses over pants. It’s one of those things I’ve always thought of as strictly for thin people; I’m not sure I could pull it off.

  • Andrea Raymer

    I see your tripe denim in Look 1 and raise you one more denim as I have definitely been know to do the jeans+denim shirt under a denim dress with a jean jacket thrown on top.

    Also. That clear sweater brought back some memories of elementary school when the popular girls all decided that their favorite color was clear. Was that a thing for anyone else growing up?

  • All Hail Queen Pantunderskirt

    • The color palette for each look is A++, Leandra!!!

  • Ninja

    This girl is so brilliant I wish we had the same in France

  • Everyone made fun of 8 year old me wearing dresses and pants, look who’s winning now.

  • Natali

    2nd one is a killer one!!! Aced it big time!


  • Adardame

    You should eat smoked salmon all the time. Unless you can’t afford it, in which case you should pretend it’s terrible and avoid walking past the display case.

    • Adardame

      I love wearing pants under a dress. Whyever not? I picked up some tights to compare with pants last year (under dresses), and while it is smoother around the hips, I miss the pockets and the feeling that I am ready for anything. Ex: Change tire in tights under dress (ugh), change tire in pants under dress (just fine).

      • Adardame

        The “it’s now ok to put pants under dresses” thing happened when I was in high school. Most of us are in our 30’s. It might take a while to hit retro-cool.

  • Carla Stout

    Can you try flats with a dress, trouser combo… I am feeling the heels with this combination but would like to see if flats can work ?! X

    • that’s me in front of my closet at least once a week! Does it not work with flatshoes/sneakers or do I just have ugly shoes? 🙂

  • Selina Moses

    We should eat smoked salmon a lot. There is your answer.

    But according to the question, I love tights and it’s the best way for me to show off my legs. I would be in trousers the whole winter otherwise which is NO FUN. But I do wear dresses over trousers, not quite in the way that I used to in the 90s obviously. I always wear dresses with side splits. That’s the key. Dresses in that awkward length that is too short for a dress and too long for a top. Sometimes a little longer but the side splits are essential

  • laszloooo

    Leandra this mini skirt over slip thing you have been doing a couple of times lately is blowing my mind it is so good. Feel genuinely new to me!!

  • Mallory

    Looks 1 and 2 are so good!

  • Nico

    Leandra, what size did you get that denim shirt in – it’s the perfect oversized size! Also, the linked shirt isn’t the exact same one right?…

  • Elouise

    The architecture of that last outfit. It took me about 5 minutes to comprehend what was going on and I love it. Where in the heck can I get a sheer mock-sweater (that costs much much less than that one…)!! I’m really into that trompe de l’oeil layering effect that you can create with loose sheer tops

  • Rosario

    Wearing pants under a dress makes me feel like a little kid when my Mom dressed that way for school. Kids would make fun of me for wearing pants and dresses together. The school attire was a dress or skirt b https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/10a78642c86f130715192b10681bc7c5896a71805e2149cd11cd5b2b2279ad7a.jpg longish top is the better fashion for fall.

  • Christel Michelle

    The first and third outfits are possibly some of my favorite outfits to ever be featured on MR

  • Zoe Harewood

    Bursting into song at the beauteousness of the (Samba Pa) T. Burch shewellery and accompanying hardware (woo-well-ry) adorning divine denime in your First Movement.
    But it is the impossible symphony, the seduction of discord and din, in the Second that really bewitches, bothers and bewilders. Strains of slow tango swathed in cosy cowgirl songs, speared by a lungful of Livvie (Newton-John). This is definitely the one that I want.
    Ooh, and that bag. Dope.
    Third Movement: Beryl the Peril moonlighting as Blanche DuBois.