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Leggings - They Are Not Pants

It has suddenly occurred to me that although I am strongly against the movement of wearing leggings as pants I have never given an in depth reason behind my stance and this is long overdue. So here we go . . . 

First, lets discuss what leggings are. Leggings are skin tight leg material typically made of a cotton / spandex combination. Your basic legging has very similar properties and looks like long underwear, yes underwear; although leggings tend to be a bit thicker, but depending on the season they can run just as thin. You also see leggings made of nylon and Lycra that strongly resemble tights, in fact there is a very blurry line between footless rights vs leggings but in general leggings are thicker and sturdier than tights are are absolutely not see through. Lately you see leggings made of just about anything to create a variety of fashion options. I happen to have a pair of lace leggings, I certainly hope no one would ever confuse those as pants. In general, given their similarities I say leggings belong in the undergarment category with their cousins long johns and tights. 

But, there is an argument out there that leggings are similar to running tights and yoga pants and this seems to have opened the door to panthood for leggings. So first you have running tights, and really isn't their very name self explanatory? This was not a garment designed to be warn for non athletic activities. I also see a lot of people wear running tights under a pair of shorts, oh behalf on decent society everywhere - THANK YOU! With yoga pants it gets trickier and I think it's the beginning of a slippery slope. Yoga pants should also be self explanatory in their name but let's face it, who doesn't like wearing yoga pants outside of yoga? I have these fleece lined yoga pants and in the winter they are sooo comfortable. Yoga pants differ from leggings in that they tend to get wider than the leg from the knee to the ankle and are not as tight in the lower leg. They are also thicker and have a wider waistband. So I admit, I might on occasion wear yoga pants outside my home and not to a gym, but I don't really consider myself "dressed" like this. And by dressed I don't mean just covered in clothing but I mean properly put together to go out in decent society - which I will define later if you stay with me on this post. My point is, neither running tights or yoga pants are real pants and linking leggings to them does still not substantiate them as pants. 

Another argument I hear for leggings as pants are that they are comfortable. I guess now would be a good time to mention that I actually adore leggings  - which is perhaps why their misuse offends me so. But being comfortable is a sad defense why something is ok. Leggings are just as comfortable when worn with a tunic or dress, wearing them as pants does not enhance their comfort. Even if it did, comfort alone is not a reason to present oneself a certain way. Taking my bra off at the end of the day is also very comfortable, but you don't see women walking around just randomly removing their bras in public now do you. I also enjoy not wearing shoes, but shoes are required at almost all public venues. And really, do people own pants that are not comfortable? I wear "nice" pants to the office almost everyday - linen from Easter to Labor Day, structured dress pants in the fall and winter and they fabulously flattering ponte knit (not a cotton knit) pants I get from Talbots that can also be dressed up for nights and weekends - none of these pants are uncomfortable. Ladies if your pants are uncomfortable then I hate to be the bearer of bad news but its time to go up a size. I don't even understand the logic here, oh my pants are uncomfortable ( I.e. too tight) so let me put on a piece of skin tight garment instead - this looks better how? The only type of pants I could give any type of credit to being slightly confomfortable are lined supper dressy pants - which are typically part of a suit or professional attire,  I would certainly hope when the occasion for a suit arises leggings are not anywhere near the attire considerations. 

I also love the "leggings are so easy to throw on" defense. Seriously? You find putting on a pair of legitimate pants to be that much or a burden? Meanwhile while wearing a full face of makeup and done hair, you'd go through all that effort to look nice yet putting on pants is just too much. This shouldn't even be a discussion point it's such a sad excuse. 

My absolute favorite excuse though has got to be "some people have the body for it". Really, are you sure? Because I'll be happy to point out you cellulite spots on your bottom even if you are a size 2 - and honestly most people using this argument are not. I went to a party once where two women were wearing leggings as pants in similar manners- one a 6ish and one a 14ish, both looked equally half dressed.  I don't think it has anything to do with size, I wear an Xl and and actually find legging to offer a slimming effect if you get good quality ones. I see leggings as pants in plus size ads and the thought isn't eww, she's too fat for that its eww, why isn't she wearing pants. But let's say you are part of this school of thought ok, some people have the body for a bikini, why aren't they walking around in public in them? Because it's not appropriate. When you say "some people have the body for it" then you are actually proving my point in a way because what you are really saying is that if you have a good body it's ok to walk around in a manner that shows it off and intentionally not fully dressing. One thing I will say about leggings as pants it that it's nice that there are so many women out there with a positive body image but ladies there are many ways to have that image and still wear real clothes. Intentionally walking around in public to "show off" is in fact inappropriate, the public at large does not need a full view of your goods, would you walk around with your boobs hanging out , its the lower body equivalent if not worse. I really wonder if people who say this have actually looked in the mirror beyond just 5 minutes after they got dressed as we all know clothing will shift and settle as we go about our day - Ive been guilty of over exposure on top in a dress that looked respectable at home in the mirror only to wind up horrified to be putting my DDDs on display, but then I know for next time - do would never intentionally wear the same dress in the same manner again. This is what happens to leggings in case you haven't looked - they creep up your butt and form a line in between your cheeks, so basically a mega wedgie - is there anyone out there really "hot" enough to pull off an intentional wedgie look. Ugh, and that's only if you're wearing a thong, otherwise it's a mega wedgie VPL combo I just really can't believe it's a look anyone would intentionally go for. And it gets worse in the front - camel toe; I just can't even discuss that.
 Take this for example, nice body but does she look good? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, that's a little extreme, but I'm making the point that a good body doesn't just to good in anything.

The final argument in wearing leggings as pants is that it's ok as long as your crotch area is covered. I guess I have to give these people have credit for having the decency to understand my point on the unnecessary anatomy display. But, if you're making up rules and conditions are you in fact supporting leggings position in the "I'm not pants" category. Pants do not need such rules. Pants can we worn with tops at the waist, pants are the crotch / booty covering. I'm a huge believer in that if you have to ask permission to do something then you know that it's wrong. Searching for a crotch covering top is basically asking yourself for permission to wear leggings as pants, oh, I know leggings are not pants so let me at least try to find something to make them passable. Just put on a real pair of pants!
So when you leave your house you should do a one over and ask yourself, am I prepared to go out in decent society dressed like this? And by decent society I mean people worthy of your respect who aren't working out at a gym; not to say gyms aren't full of decent people, but nobody is expected to be fully dressed at the gym. Not that I run around paranoid of who I would run into every time I leave my house but the reality is I only own one skirt that I would be embarrassed to run into my dad, my priest, or my boss in. Sure, I might be more casual sometimes but I do not like leaving my house inappropriately dressed. I consider myself to be a professional and a community supporter as I dress as such. I expect to be treated with respect where ever I go and to me that starts with showing that I respect myself to not be a slob and I respect the people I am around enough to get fully dressed to be in their presence. Nothing really says I don't care to be here more than a thrown together look, well maybe falling asleep, but let's just presume that never happens.
I say leggings aren't pants because although it's kinda gross to where them anywhere they are certainly inappropriate at church, work, a nice restaurant or in front of your parents and pants again do not have rules, pants are always pants. Our society dresses way too casually for church these days anyway. In my college days in my sorority "pin attire" was described as what you would wear to church - I wonder how they describe it now. It basically means dresses, skirts and nice pants only, with tops that have sleeves, fit well and are not revealing. I see all sorts of athletic wear at church
and it drives me crazy; I've only recently accepted the fact that jeans at church are a thing and here to stay. I don't understand leggings at church -the people who wear them are either earing to "show off" or be super comfy - church is not sexy time and it is not your couch. Some people think they're ok in fine dining establishments I've never been in a "nicer" establishment where the employees are wearing leggings as pants, in any city - and as a paying customer I'm not sure why I'd ever want to go anywhere and be out dressed by their staff. Maybe it's a mind thing but I think I tend to get good service, especially when shopping, because I do dress nice.
You could possibly say my view point is more or a southern mentality - on a recent trip to Chicago I saw a higher volume of leggings as pants as I did here in Memphis , or you could say that I work in a corporate environment so I have a different work attire mindset but the reality is legging are not pants universally. Honestly, I never even bothered to check my current company's dress code because I know I would never violate it but at my last company (a Fortune 500 firm based in California) leggings in the office were strictly prohibited. I think this is interesting because my California boyfriend seems to think my idea of dressing is very local viewpoint and while I'll contend people in California are probably more casual in general it shows that "serious" Californians recognize that leggings are not pants. I also hear that Boston has a lot of leggings as pants wearers and while I never thought to ask my middle aged Boston clients about it I do have family in nearby New York City- where people are far more cool and sophisticated in their manner of dress compared to us Memphis country mice. My cousin is pretty high up in a creative firm (creative firms are known for having more casual dress requirements) and I've heard her complain about the young people in her office who wear leggings as pants - just because something isn't strictly prohibited in ones dress code doesn't mean it makes one look professional or be taken seriously. Beyond being a fitness instructor I can't imagine any profession in which leggings as pants are ok. One of the bfs friends told me today that clothing stores, salons and makeup artists are jobs where it is acceptable. Here's where I'm going to sound like a snob - maybe if you don't have any aspirations in life beyond working the register at forever 21 it's ok. MAYBE just MAYBE on this one this is a California thing as I do not see leggings as pants at my salon or makeup shops - or maybe I only go to snotty places with dress codes. But then, again I have a friend who when she was very young got in trouble for wearing leggings working at Dillards, which is a national chain and not overly fancy. I couldn't imagine paying someone who couldn't be bothered to be fully dressed to make me pretty with my hair and makeup.

So when to wear leggings? It's simple - be it for weather conditions, comfort , making a fashion statement , or hiding the fact that it's November and you haven't shaved in 3 days they are worn as a layer piece with a stand alone outfit. This means that you must have a bottom piece part of your ensemble above your leggings. Leggings are great for extending your wardrobe into the fall or wearing spring clothes when it'sd still a little chilly out. They're great with a cotton dress when you're really in the mood for t-shirt and yoga pants but you know better. They're a great way to extend the use of your little black dress by added a fun print or texture into the mix. Leggings certainly have a place in our fashion world, it's just not in the pant department.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Yikes! Paris Hilton does NOT know how to wear leggings... some people lack basic fashion sense sometimes!


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