Leggings Are Not Pants, No Matter How Badly You Want Them to Be

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We know, we know….they’re comfortable. They’re easy to put on. You can go to and from the gym and back without having to change. There are a lot of positive attributes to the ubiquitous legging, but the ability to double as a pair of pants (thats trousers to those of you living in the UK, not pants as in underpants) does not fall under the list of positive legging attributes.

But lets qualify our position a bit, shall we? It’s not that we think that the legging is strictly verboten per se, it’s more a matter of how one chooses to style this, the most maligned of all fashion pieces…okay, the most maligned next to the scrunchie. And maybe parachute pants…but that’s for another article.

While it’s certain that there are some women that can carry off leggings as pants successfully (see above photo), the resulting look is really more of a sexy/desperate “look at me” than the more understated “cool girl” effect that we are always hearing so much about. Most of us, if we opt for a legging at all, would choose to wear them with an oversized shirt, tunic, or sweater that covers our collective rear ends.

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What does the general population say? Lets let the evidence speak for itself, shall we? recently ran an article about this very topic, turning to their readership to answer the question of whether or not leggings should be worn as pants, and their readers weighed-in.

We specifically asked about whether wearing leggings without a long top to cover your rear is OK or not. The verdict? Sixty-one percent said that the look doesn’t fly without the added coverage of a top or sweater.

Back in 2012, The Huffington Post also wrote about the issue, turning to their straight male readership for an opinion on the matter of whether or not they thought the leggings as pants look was “hot”.  The results were overwhelmingly, if not predictably in the “no” column, with a few smatterings of “yes”. However, the responses that were in the “yes” column all had a certain…shall we say patina to them that seems to underscore the sexy but not chic argument, and then some.

I personally think it’s hot. I think it would be exceptionally rare to find a straight guy who would be mad about cute girls wearing super-tight clothing

It’s a little slutty, way too revealing, leaves nothing to the imagination. Yes, it often is attractive. However, I don’t walk around with my dong hanging out. It’s called being taken seriously and wearing clothes. But the long shirt that goes down over the ass — then it’s fine.

It’s attractive, and I’m a feminist, but at some basic level I won’t take you seriously as a person

I mean, if you like camel toes… call me old fashioned, but I’m the kind of guy who likes a little mystery


Fashion experts are inclined to agree with the assessment of us laypeople when it comes to wearing leggings as pants; just don’t do it. However, knowing that one will never stem the unstoppable tide of leggings-loving people now that the craze has already taken a firm hold, I can offer a few tips and tricks for those who just can’t help themselves – and it would seem that there are a lot of you out there if my last shopping trip to the city is anything to go by. Here are some gentle suggestions, courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine.

If your leggings are flimsy enough that you can see through them in direct sunlight, then they’re not really pants, they’re underwear. Assuming your leggings are fully opaque, you still shouldn’t wear them like you would any other pair of pants, because they’re not like any other pair of pants. Instead, keep your look relaxed and layer up. Throw on a longer top to cover your waistband and most of the rise — the area between the crotch and the waistband. Then add a jacket that is longer than the top and wear it open in the front. Throw on some other stuff too while you’re at it: socks and boots, jewelry, a sweater. Add some prints and graphics in there too. Create some visual interest so the leggings don’t dominate the look. And please, no shiny leggings. Ever. They just look cheap and overly tight and that’s no good.

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Project Runway host and overall style expert extraordinaire Tim Gunn has a little less patience with the whole leggings as pants thing. Never one to shy away from stating his opinion on an unflattering fashion trend, here is what Gunn has to say about what he calls the “athleisure” trend, as told to the Bloomberg Report.

When did leggings become a pant?

Gunn wholly accepts  leggings as a layer underneath whatever else you’re wearing. And they’re fine while you’re working out. Just change before you leave the gym.

It’s vulgar. Unless you’re Robin Hood.

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