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Question: “Leggings are not pants”—is it really true?

Answer: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but my personal opinion is that no, leggings are not pants—nor will they ever be. That’s the short answer. With that being said, fashion is never black and white. And if there’s one trend that falls in a gray area, it’s wearing leggings as pants. So why are some fashionistas (like myself) against it? For starters, some leggings can be too sheer and tight. And while that whole second-skin-thing might make you feel super comfortable, skin-tight leggings can result in a front-wedgie—otherwise known as the dreadful camel toe. Yikes!

Secondly, leggings provide very little support and shape in the three fatal areas where most of us need it. Yep, you guessed it: the rear end, hips and thighs. Sure, fashion doesn’t have to be uptight or uncomfortable, but there’s something about leggings that screams lazy. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that styling them the right way can make you look effortlessly chic. Lastly, if you wear the wrong type of leggings, you might reveal way more than you intended like panty lines or your underwear.

Well, now that we’ve gotten the negative aspects out of the way—let’s talk about how you can rock leggings (as opposed to pants or jeans). But before you read these styling tips, make sure you choose the right type of leggings. American Apparel has a huge selection, and it’s the best place to shop for a variety of styles, textures and colors. One fashion rule that can’t be broken is that leggings should be thick and opaque, which means others won’t be able to see through them in direct sunlight. Black, opaque leggings (not black tights) or leather leggings are sleek and figure-flattering for any size. For thin mints, black leggings add more shape and bulk—and for curvier ladies, they can be extremely slimming.


Say yes to leggings with…

  • Short dresses, mini skirts or sweater dresses
  • Long and fitted tunics
  • Plain or chambray button-downs
  • Long sweaters
  • Scarves
  • Boyfriend shirts
  • Cardigans or sweaters
  • Structured blazers and leather jackets
  • Oversized t-shirts
  • Long silk blouses
  • Heels, wedges, combat boots or moccasins

A simple way to approach this is to layer up (in order to avoid a legging-dominated look). For black or dark-colored leggings, try different prints and patterns with your tops, jackets and accessories to keep things interesting. As long as your top half covers your backside and hits about mid-thigh, half the battle has already been won.

Say no to leggings with…

  • Tank tops
  • Crop tops
  • Any regular-length top—unless you plan to tie a sweater or shirt around your
  • waist or add a jacket with a scarf to balance proportions.

When in doubt, follow this simple rule: If it’s fitted on the bottom, vouch for something loose on top. You don’t want to look tacky or cheap, so stay away from shiny, ultra tight and white leggings. Tops that don’t cover the area between the waistband and crotch is the ultimate no-no.

The ongoing debate over whether or not leggings are appropriate to wear as pants is sure to continue throughout fashion cycles. The way you style them will be the biggest determining factor when it comes to which side of the debate (and your tush) you’ll end up supporting.

Are you pro-leggings as pants, or do you think they should be reserved for the gym or under a dress?

  • Cat

    I like these tips and agree that leggings look great with oversized sweaters, dresses, etc…but that they should NOT be worn as a replacement for jeans or with short shirts. Well said.

  • skrillex_lover1

    Totally agreed. Thanks for spreading the good word :)

  • Rosario

    I think leggings are pants because everyone wears them like pants. Every body can not be wrong.

    • kate

      it’s extremely common in Europe for leggings to be worn as pants, I have noticed. but I don’t like how sometimes people get really unattractive (and very noticeable) wedgies.

      • Rosario

        I was out yesterday and lost count on the number of people here in a small Canadian town that were wearing there leggings as pants. I didn’t see too many wedgies but by the number of VPL’s, I would say many were wearing granny panties. I was a little lazy myself and decided due to comfort it was a great day to just throw on a pair of leggings. Hey if you can’t beat them join them.

        • sakiski

          Why don’t you show your face?

          • Rosario

            Why what would that prove?

          • sakiski

            Just wanted to know whether you’re a man or a woman who supports wearing leggings as pants so much.

          • Rosario

            I am a women that supports wearing leggings as pants but there is no question that most people support wearing leggings as pants. It’s hard to find anyone that totally covers their butt when wearing leggings. I am so glad I live where I do because leggings are not a fashion issue here, we all just wear them. My husband wears leggings when he runs and he wears them as pants and nobody cares. I am always shocked when I come across a blog where there are so many negatives comments about wearing leggings this way.

          • sakiski

            Wow, what kind of country do you live in that accept leggings as pants in public. I wanna live there! I am a man and I wear leggings all the time for comfort, and not for showing off my assets. It’s more of a problem for men to wear leggings because of the perceived gay attitude, which is totally annoying and sexist. The great thing about you is you support men wearing leggings. I would like to know more about you as a result. Where are you from? Do you have a full body photo?

            The thing is, many women get angry when men wear leggings as pants, because they think leggings are only for women. They make shallow comments such as gay and many more. I live in a very shallow society.

          • Rosario

            I live in a small northern town in Canada and our schools here don’t ban students from wearing leggings. This is a good thing as most the parents of these kids wear leggings. LOL. We just had a new sports store open in our town and they have as many pairs of leggings for men as they do for women. If men aren’t wearing leggings who is buying the men leggings. I don’t understand why you think women don’t what men to wear leggings when leggings are unisex. I had 4 of my girlfriends come to my place for the weekend and 3 of them and my husband wore leggings all the time they were here. They had no problem with my guy was wearing leggings in fact they seemed to be around him more then me. The point is my husband has been wearing leggings since the early 80’s even before women wore leggings casually. I have never heard a negative comment from anyone when we are together and he’s wearing leggings. All I can tell you is wear leggings if you want but wear them with confidence… gays don’t wear leggings.

          • sakiski

            I wish people here were as accepting about leggings as you and your people are. Most people, especially, find it disgusting when men wear leggings. They call them gay and perverts for showing their package. It’s a shallow world I live in. Do you have photos of yourself wearing leggings? I would love to see your family all in leggings! Which town are you living in now?

          • Rosario

            That’s terrible that people can be so rude and mean. We are only talking preference to clothing not like it’s something that’s going to affect someone life. We don’t have many photos and its just the two us, no children yet. But when we have kids and if they want to wear leggings they’ll have our blessing. My hubby wearing a pair of funky, spacey tights.

          • sakiski

            Yes it is terrible that people can be so shallow when guys wear leggings. I wear leggings all the time and I would move to your town right now just to enjoy wearing leggings in public without all the weird looks and stares. Do you have a photo (with face) with your hubby that you can share with me?

          • j.m.

            Most people don’t like revealing personal info like face photos on the internet.

          • sakiski

            I was just curious, that’s all.

          • Rosario

            Sorry in are line of business posting face photos is a no no!!
            But I feel for people that live in communities that have a vengeance for those that enjoy wearing leggings. I am so glad that leggings are totally acceptable where I live, guess we are very fortunate.

          • sakiski

            I was just curious that’s all. I have never met anyone who is so open to men wearing leggings in public. My parents would kill me if I wear leggings anywhere near them.

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  • claumarce

    hello!! i´m fron argentina, my name is Claudio, i´ma man and i wear leggings everyday into my house only!!! i´m not wear in the street!!!but the other day i stay in the street with my leggings and was excellent!! and i see that all the womans acept my leggings!!!! are very confortable to used in the street!!! by!!!! sorry my bad english!!!!