Leggings are not pants. They are an active sister to pants, sure, but very much not trousers that should be worn anywhere but the gym. With their no-frills, body-hugging style (that are, in fact, more sheer when stretched than their wearer often realizes), they are more akin to a pair of knit stockings than they are pants and should be treated as such. While I can already hear the chorus of nay-sayers who vehemently disagree with my beliefs about leggings, I think that we owe more to ourselves than to simply focus on what’s comfortable. Because the reality is, there are plenty of equally comfortable options that look a whole lot more pulled-together than thin-knit leggings.
I’m not quite sure at what point the world decided that leggings fit into the ready-to-wear category, synonymous to everything from khakis to denim; however, something that pulls on like a second skin and is made 100 percent of spandex is not the same thing, even if it does cover similar real estate on your body as their more tailored counterpart. The trend-of-sorts was helped along by some combination of the Kardashians and the recent exponential rise of fitness focus. And, while I fully support both the Calabasas-born empire as well as an active lifestyle, leggings as pants is not something I can get behind.
A little over two years ago, two girls made headlines because United Airlines denied them entry to a flight because their leggings were considered unsuitable definitions of clothing. The airline claims the girls were “pass travelers,” or employees and their families traveling for free via company benefits, and required to dress up more formally than others while flying. Let’s be clear: I strongly disagree with the airline’s reaction to the issue — for more reasons than I am able to fit in this article, and then some — but it does bring up an interesting question about how we should all treat ourselves when it comes to the image we present to the world.
There are only two exceptions I see to this particular fashion rule (yes, that’s right: I am calling it a rule . . .). The first? If you’re actually on your way to or from a workout, by all means, wear those leggings in transit. There’s no need for you to pack an additional change of clothing just because your legs are going to see the light of day before or after you head to the gym. The second is quite similar. If you’re a studio owner, yoga teacher, personal trainer, and the like, consider leggings like a uniform. You’re wearing all the cutest styles, know more about fit and material than any of us, and have an arsenal of leggings that would rival that even of Kim K. You’re golden, keep on rocking that look.
Now, I understand the appeal of leggings — I really do. They’re easy, comfortable, don’t need to be fussed with, and are a no-brainer outfit addition. The thing is, though: you should care more about what you wear than that. Sure, pajamas check all the same aforementioned boxes, but you don’t see adults going to dinner wearing their plaid flannels, do you?
Whether it’s super-stretch jeans, cashmere joggers, wide-leg pants, or the like, there are a ton of different “comfortable” options, in lieu of leggings. Ahead, some “comfy” pants that are also — you got it — not leggings.