It's time to put the trends to the test.
The Trend: Jeggings (As in, "Jeans" + "Leggings," in case you haven't heard the term yet.)
Beyoncé wears them with sky-high stilettos and a blazer. Sienna Miller, Rihanna, Paris Hilton and Whitney Port like them (shudder) stonewashed. Gwen Stefani and Lily Allen opt for simple, dark washes. Ciara will take them tie-dyed, thank you very much.
Then there are the runways: Twenty8Twelve, Rock & Republic, Hussein Chalayan, Rag & Bone, William Rast and Gucci – to name a few -- painted them on models for their Fall '09 fashion shows.
And, now, every brand – from Topshop and bebe to James Jeans and Hudson – seems to have its own version of the jegging.
You see, the denim look du jour is all about a denim/legging hybrid that makes skinny jeans seem baggy.
Just the thought of jeggings made me afraid. Very afraid. I mean, my grandmother wore this sort of pant in Phoenix in the Eighties. All I could think was, this is a look for the "Golden Girls" set, and certainly not suited for the general public.
But, in the name of Blanche Devereaux, I was ready to give 'em a whirl.
What I Wore: When I approached the Forever 21 dressing room armed with several pairs of jeggings, I was horrified, and don't even want to know what the size 2 fitting room attendant was thinking.
Seriously, these jeans do not look good on a hanger: They have an elastic band at the waist. Elastic. Plus, they're just so ... so ... so tapered. That might be hot if you're under 21, but when you're closer to 41, and you wore something similar as a teenager (only in a flower print or acid wash), believe me, serious trepidation is in order.
Many versions of the jegging – think conservative and dark-rinsed to stonewashed and shredded – are easy to find at stores like Forever 21. "Have you been selling a lot of these?" I asked the bored sales girl. "Yeah," she replied. "It's weird. When they came in, I said, 'Aren't these maternity pants?' But I was born in 1986, so they seem new to me."
Oh, youth. But, actually, she's right. They do look like maternity pants. Which made me all the more surprised when, once I got them on, I actually liked the way they looked. Maybe it was just the initial shock at being able to squeeze into the fast fashion retailer's tiny sizes (thank you boot camp), but I thought I looked pretty chic in my $19.90 jeggings.
I liked them so much, in fact, that I decided to test a more grown-up version: the cj by Cookie Johnson jean legging ($145 at Nordstrom.com). And, guess, what? It was even better!
Where I Wore Them: To a fashion show, a movie screening, a cocktail party, an informal business meeting and the salon.
The Reaction: "Check this out," I said to a 50-something fashion-blogging pal at a screening for the Vogue documentary, "The September Issue." "I'm wearing jeggings! Look! The waistband is elastic!"
"Oh, I'm obsessed with them," she said. "I've already bought three pairs."
"Whatever. They just look like super-skinny jeans," another fashionista friend snapped.
What the Experts Say: "I'm not so wild about a jean legging," "What Not to Wear's" Stacy London tells me. "I'm fine with skinny jeans. If you are proportioned correctly, and you don't carry too much weight in your upper thigh, then go ahead and wear skinny jeans. But a jean legging, with an elastic waist – that I'm not sure I get."
Maybe that's why I fell so deeply in love with the cj by Cookie Johnson version. There is no elastic -- just your typical zip fly and button closure – so they still look like a jean, just one that's really, really skinny.
"If you have wider hips, you've been discouraged by fashion experts to wear super slim jeans," Johnson, wife of Magic, says. "But we created a super comfortable stretchy legging jean that hugs your curves just right."
The secret to Johnson's jeggings is that there's Elastin in her denim. Add to that a roomier cut in the butt and upper thighs, but with contours at the waist, and you've got a jegging that you don't have to be Kate Bosworth to pull off.
What to Wear Them With: I agree with Johnson: Jeggings look chic with a boyfriend blazer or tunic. Fall's layering looks let you go long and loose on top.
The Verdict: While I would caution anyone over the age of, say, 21, to sport acid-washed, ripped and shredded or super bleached-out jeggings, I also agree with Johnson that, when done in a tasteful dark rinse, it's a shockingly wearable trend.
Blanche Devereaux would be so proud.
Lesley Kennedy lives in Denver, CO, where she is the editor of Denveralamode.com, a site devoted to Mile High fashion, beauty and trends.