Leggings: spandex, lycra, latex, pleather, jeggings (stretch denim); shiny, printed, bedazzled. This trend has been bugging me for a while. I’m referring to the fashion craze that has become ubiquitous. It started benignly enough. Ballet dancers in color-coordinated tutus and tights; leotards to keep you warm on blustery winter days; part of a school uniform (our Catholic high school required flesh-
tone leotards, not a good look). They’re now being worn by everyone, it seems – on the street, in the work-place, in malls, at the theater; young or old, tall or short, plus-size or emaciated. Even men at the gym and on the street can be seen in “meggings” so we can see all their junk! These are leggings for men, in case you weren’t sure.
What happened to dressing appropriately? When did underwear as outerwear become acceptable? Madonna led the way in the 1980s in her bras and girdles, prompting many female performers to copy her look. Britney Spears, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Lady Gaga are just a few. Fashion magazines helped promote the style, hyping pajamas and robes, tank tops and camisoles, bras and corsets for day and evening wear. The popularity of aerobics in the 1970s and 1980s made leotards the perfect outfit for workouts. They morphed into “athleisure” apparel worn outside of sporting activities in casual settings. Thus, the monster was unleashed.
This plague of leggings has even affected the fashion capital of North America – New York City. A friend and I were there recently and saw leggings everywhere. I understand how trendy Manhattanites can be but that doesn’t mean all females should adopt every new look. When I was in my twenties in the 1970s, I had great legs so I wore miniskirts with leotards in the winter months. Now I wear them under pants because Canadian winters are cold. Unfortunately, today’s women seem to have no filter for what is and is not proper attire. If they see it and like it, they wear it. Not always a great idea.
Based on how pervasive leggings have become, I have the impression they’ve replaced pants. I’ve seen young girls around 12 years old walking to school in February with nothing much more on than a pair of leggings, running shoes without socks, and a short jacket. I guess there are no school dress codes anymore. Even in workplaces that are more casual and laid back, do we need to see our coworkers in leggings, showing us most of their ass, however attractive or toned it may or may not be? And while leggings are perfect for the gym and your spinning class workout, couldn’t you throw on some real pants before you leave the gym?
I was watching a cop drama recently and noticed that the female detective was wearing a blouse and loose-fitting jacket, which looked like they were from Walmart, but that’s beside the point. More alarming was that she wasn’t wearing pants, just leggings, running around chasing bad guys! I don’t assume that all female detectives dress in designer suits, the way they’re usually portrayed on TV, but I also don’t expect them to dress like soccer moms on the job. Are leggings really suitable for an authority figure like a police officer?
The issue is whether leggings are clothing on their own or an accessory worn with other items, such as skirts, dresses or shorts. In a 2016 readers’ poll, Glamour magazine stated that 61% thought that leggings should only be worn as an accessory, whereas Good Housekeeping concluded that “…leggings do, in fact, count as pants, provided they are opaque enough that they don’t show your underwear.” I disagree with the latter and believe that the leggings rage has created a false equivalence. This happens when there is an apparent similarity between two things but in fact they are not equivalent, in this case, leggings as clothing or accessory. The two things may share some common characteristics, but they have important differences that are overlooked for argument’s sake. Leotards or leggings were meant to be worn as underwear for dance, exercise, and warmth. Currently, leggings worn as outwear are considered fashion. In these modern times, people now equate one with the other, hence the false equivalency. I realize they’ve evolved into a fashion look and that people are supposed to be able to wear what they want without judgement from others. Nevertheless, I’m not judging… I’m just saying.
Most of us, particularly those of a certain generation, should recognize that age and body type might be a factor in deciding what we expose in public. I don’t mean to be ageist given that I’m a Baby Boomer after all. And I don’t mean to fat shame anyone because I’ve had my own battles with the scales. However, I do think common sense should prevail. Think about it. Do you really want to be seen jiggling along in leggings? Do you want people to notice all your nooks and crannies? Maybe, before embracing the leggings movement, one should first consider the options, and see below, then decide what’s best for oneself and the rest of the world out there. At least one can hope for some sense and sensibility despite the fact that in this century, anything goes. I know I’ll be looking in the mirror every time I leave the house to be sure there’s nothing wobbling or hanging out where it shouldn’t be.
Donna’s Do’s and Don’ts for Leggings:
- If you have great legs, go for it, but wear a tunic over them. (I reconsidered my feelings about leggings with an appropriate top)
- If we can see your underwear or worse, your naked butt, go home and put some clothes on.
- Unless your workplace is a gym, don’t show up without clothing over the leggings.
- Just because jeggings look like denim doesn’t mean you should wear the skintight stretchy version on the street.
- Shiny, faux leather, or spandex leggings, especially if they’re silver or gold, are never acceptable anywhere unless you’re a hooker.
- Leggings on men are only tolerable if you’re in a Shakespearean play or a ballet recital.
An afterthought: I wish I had the nerve to rock this outfit!