Leggings vs pants

January 23, 2017

Written By

Tabitha Dumas

Yes, I’m going there. Leggings vs pants. I’m going to be honest with you right from the start: I am in the “leggings are not pants” camp. I do not ever wear leggings without having my, ahem, “personal assets” covered. I don’t even wear fitted pants without the proper coverage! Blame my conservative Southern upbringing.

Leggings vs Pants

Leggings vs. Pants Tabitha Dumas Phoenix Image Consultant

I started wearing leggings in the 1980s under my dresses and I loved the look. As a tall gal who also chooses to dress modestly, dresses have always been tricky for me and leggings were the perfect solution.

Leggings were indeed around back then to be worn as athletic wear but were limited to Jazzercise class. Y’know…like pajamas use to be limited to home.

I don’t know when leggings started to be worn as pants but I’d bet it was about the same time women started wearing yoga pants outside of yoga class.

I get it. We want to be comfortable. So what’s with the “leggings as pants” deal??

I blame the athleisure movement.

The lines are blurred now between work, play and leisure. You can wear jeans to work and wear your yoga clothes on a lunch date (it’s called “athleisure” and Vogue has some rules for you right here).

This is the idea. {get the scoop on “stepping out after a workout” here}

The true leggings I own are reserved for weekends around the house and even then, I still feel feel self-conscious.

When I wear them out, here’s how:

Leggings vs. Pants Tabitha Dumas Phoenix Image Consultant

To their credit, most gals wear their leggings appropriately under long tops, skirts or dresses or with layers over top.

Yes, newer leggings CAN BE thicker and more flattering than most.

Some ladies, however, have taken the opportunity to lose their ever-loving minds and go around in leggings and short tops.

Here’s how you can tell you have leggings:

  • you can see your skin (and every bump and dimple) through the fabric
  • you can see the outline of your underwear through the fabric (and sometimes even the color)
  • they lack buttons or pockets
  • you purchases them in the hosiery department
  • you purchased them at Walgreens or a swap meet
  • the label or product description says “leggings”

The problem

The problem is that fitted pants have also become a fashion trend! And many people, like me, often wear them like leggings because we love our legs but not out mid-sections, hips and/or thighs.

My personal hang-ups aside, I also have a personal conviction that my lady parts should never be on display and leggings, FOR ME, simply show too much.

I consider these athletic pants and they’re so similar to leggings that I only wear them to exercise and I cover up.

Leggings vs. Pants Tabitha Dumas Phoenix Image Consultant

But what about fitted pants?

I had on my favorite black pair pictured below and a woman said, “I love your leggings with that!” and I knew we had a problem.

Leggings vs. Pants Tabitha Dumas Phoenix Image Consultant

So let’s be clear.

Pants typically:

  • are made of thick material
  • do not show skin
  • do not show the outline of your underwear (or your bumps and dimples)
  • have buttons and/or zippers
  • have pockets
  • have seams
  • have trim or other details
  • are purchased in the regular clothing department
  • are labeled as “pants” (ankle pants, cropped pants, fitted pants, etc.)

My fitted black pants are decidedly PANTS. I still wear longer layers with them, though.

These came in my Natalie Attired box and as you can see, I wear them with a longer top that covers my business.

I don’t have to–they’re PANTS. But I choose to cover up.

Leggings vs. Pants Tabitha Dumas Phoenix Image Consultant


I see women all the time wearing leggings/athletic pants that are so thin, you can see everything happening underneath. That is never appropriate. It’s like body paint!

To me, it translates as “I don’t know how to dress.” Or perhaps worse, “I didn’t look in the mirror before I left home today.”

How can you not see your white underwear showing through your “pants??”

In my opinion, displaying that much of your body shows a lack of self respect.

Whether you wear your thick athletic leggings outside of the gym or off the track or yoga mat just depends on how comfortable you are wearing workout clothes “in real life.” If it were me, I’d wear a longer tunic or jacket over them in public.

I implore you to consider whether what you own is leggings or pants and wear them accordingly.

I hope this helped! Do you struggle with this? Are you a “leggings as pants” girl?

Please pin and share! 



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