The Great Leggings Debate

Leggings: Are they pants or not? Wars have been fought over this. Actual wars. The Revolutionary War. No way that wasn’t about the right for men to wear leggings. (Too soon to make Revolutionary War jokes?)


War’s over, dude. You lost.

I wear, with little hesitation, the smooth shape of a legging whenever I write. The elastic waistband serves as a girdle, but with less punishment, and I feel free. — Oscar Wilde.

The American Apparel winter leggings (I own 8 pairs, 4 black) are thicker than the jeans I own. [It’s not like I’m wearing] a pair of beige opaque Leggs and a crop top, full mussittouchits in sight. And yes, you should cover your privates with some sort of tank top or a longer sweater, but there ain’t no shame in the legging game.Molly McAleer

Okay, fine, I never said the above quote. — Oscar Wilde

Here is where I stand on the great leggings issue. I gained weight. Leggings + sweater or long button up = a happy, comfortable me. Like Molls, I firmly agree that one should cover their privates when donning a crisp legging. You are not Rod Stewart.

leggings rod stewart

I am. And even I barely get away with this.

My dear friend and fellow HelloGiggles contributor Laura Kadner was featured in Glamour’s “Dos and Don’ts” section about 5 years ago. The photographer snapped Laura wearing leggings under a skirt. The caption was, “They reappeared under skirts this year. Why?” and she was branded a “Don’t.” And proud of it. (To answer the question, “Why?” the answer is that it’s cold in NYC in the winter and leggings are warmer than tights.) Then, a few issues later, they praised leggings, doing a two page spread on all of the great leggings out there and what to wear them with!

laura kadner

Because Laura Kadner is awesome, that’s why.

We change our minds on leggings a lot, don’t we? I used to think they were solely for running errands or working out. Now I find myself at bars and parties in leggings. There’s just some great leggings out there now and there’s so little that separates them from a skinny jean that why wouldn’t I choose the one with the elastic waistband?

alyssa milano

I wouldn’t however go with these, “Hey we’re leggings JUST KIDDING WE’RE SHORTS wait JUST KIDDING AGAIN WE’RE LONGER THAN SHORTS.”

I looked leggings up on Wikipedia, and here are some of my favorite facts.

— Originally leggings were two separate garments, one for each leg.

— Cowboys wore leggings of buckskin to protect from chapping caused by riding, wear and tear to their pants, and bites from animals, such as snakes or insects in the scruff, such as ticks.

— Since the late 19th century, soldiers of various nations, especially infantry, often wore leggings to protect their lower leg, keep dirt, sand, and mud from entering their shoes, and to provide a measure of ankle support.

— Leggings in the form of skin-tight trousers, a tighter version of the capris ending at mid-calf or near ankle length, made its way into fashion in the 1960s and were worn with a large belt and slip-on high heels or ballet flat-styled shoes.

— By the early-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States.

printed leggings debbie harry blondie

And in 1987, Debbie Harry made a huge mistake.

The article goes on to say that in the late 1990s, “fashion turned its back on leggings” but then came around again in 2005. Does anyone else feel like they dropped off again and came back again since? I can’t keep up. But I’m wearing them now and so are a lot of people. Maybe if we felt more secure about our bodies we would wear regular pants. Like the normals. I feel like I’m Ariel. I want to be part of your world, but I’m just not ready yet. So chill out about the leggings.

What do you think?

Image source: WikipediaLIFE Magazine Archives, Glamour Magazine, Kevin WinterAnn Clifford.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1642710040 Laryssa Marie Grguric

    I don’t want to think this much about leggings.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=34600179 Almie Rose

      Horrifying, isn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002910555432 Alexandrea J. Wilson

    hahahahahaha I love Laryssa’s comment! lol Yeah I don’t know that I can spend that much time thinking about the dilemma that is leggings. lol But to give more of a response, I don’t know. Sometimes I like leggings and sometimes I don’t. They certainly are comfortable but I don’t feel comfortable wearing them outside. When I gain weight, I actually avoid leggings instead of embrace them. BUT I definitely think that if people are going to wear them, they MUST cover their bum and front area cause it’s just….it’s too much. lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503793232 Emily Firkus

    I teach junior high and over 80% of our students are athletes and they apparently believe that they can wear them (whether just plain cotton ones or compression running tights?!) with t-shirts that just skim their hips and uggs. We all feel very awkward, but haven’t figured out how to write it into the dress code… I think we’re at the point where we say they have to be worn under a skirt/tunic length top. They sure don’t leave much to the imagination!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=503793232 Emily Firkus

      uh, our FEMALE athletes wear the leggings. :o)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705689579 Sara Jumonville

    I agree that they are fine, cute even, as long as your crotch is covered. Cameltoe City is not a place that everyone in your immediate area needs a tour of. Love leggings when used appropriately. Maybe they should come with instructions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112611120 Lisa Marie

    I think fashion is all subjective anyway, so if leggings make you feel like a sexy beast, rock ’em. I own them in nearly every colour and thickness under the sun, including (gasp!) jeggings. Occasionally I’ll get cracked on by a well-meaming fashionista friend, but I just smile like Mona Lisa, tug at my awesome elastic waistband, and scan the room for muffin tops that remind me of the reason I’m so happy to be wearing them. I am also militantly opposed to letting your bum/junk fly free when wearing these.. Camel-toe is NOT a fashion statement and there are plenty of tops designed to cover both.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=665944638 Edna Araujo

    I think people should wear whatever they want. What ever floats their boat is okay with me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275455355 Danielle McCullough

    I personally love that junior high kids are becoming comfortable enough with their bodies that 80 percent of them are wearing them to class. This is a good sign for the future.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275455355 Danielle McCullough

      Including and even embracing the ominous cameltoe!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11704231 Carina Brown

    I only have one thing to say about this…


    Look at those leggings. ‘Nuff said.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=544796699 Christy Henrichs

    Leggings rock, and if you live in Chicago you need more than a pair of nylons to stay warm. I wear them every day, you just have to dress them up with cute boots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1355686955 Jamie Ann Rollo

    This is something I have been pondering for some time now. While I love a good legging, I am of the variety that believes leggings should only be worn UNDER something: a skirt (I see NOTHING wrong with wearing leggings under a skirt. Nothing.), a long shirt, a long sweater, a dress, an apron, whatever! As long as your unmentionables (AKA privates) are covered up, they are as cool as a cucumber. But what I don’t understand is the leggings-as-pants phenomenon. As in, no shirt/sweater/jacket/anything to cover up the behind/front area. Because let’s face it, leggings are essentially just very thick tights and one can see pretty much the shape of ALL your lady bits though them. But so many girls at the university I go to believe that there is nothing wrong with showing off what their mama gave them. Maybe there isn’t! To each there own and all, but…I just don’t get it. Granted, I’m an older gal. Much older than the average college student (I’m 33). So is this just a fashion sense that I can’t subscribe to based on age? Or am I just a prude?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513791729 Christina Konze

      I actually agree with you. Regardless of body shape or size, I think the privates should be covered when wearing leggings (that isn’t to say jeggings with pockets on the back and a thicker material, but those are just weird). But it just bothers me to see girls walk around thinking leggings are adequate pants. They are not! It looks like you don’t know how to dress yourself when you do that, ladies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=760710642 Lori Dowdall Lang

    Are your thighs and bum perfectly smooth and lean? No? Me neither! I have cellulite and a giggly bum. If that’s what you want to highlight about your lower half, then by all means wear leggings as pants. I know they feel light, smooth and slimming but they really do NOT look that way if you have any imperfections. You might as well be wearing your swim suit. A pair of proper fitted jeans can make a flabby butt look juicy, while those sweat pants that SAY “Juicy” make you look like a melon. Jeans also flatten your tummy while leggings highlight every curve and bulge. It’s hard to find a pair of jeans to fit an imperfect figure and that’s why I always have mine altered. It’s worth it ladies!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705297980 Sarah Buchta-Macfarlane

    My boyfriend has called this the year of the camel toe. I have to agree with him. Leggings aren’t pants and on that note thick cable tights are not leggings… Do not wear them like they are. I saw your thong through them. (There was a cropped shirt worn with them.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1709719336 Sara Fortson

    I wear leggings as pants and I don’t give a single eff.
    You can’t see my underwear through them, they don’t give me a “camel toe” and I don’t get why your “privates” should be covered while wearing leggings?
    If they aren’t sheer and fit properly there is no reason for them to be unsightly.

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