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Leggings vs pants

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 -tabithadumas.com image consultant and style strategist

I started wearing leggings in the 1980s under my dresses (similar to the photo below) 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 vs pants from tabithadumas.com
Looking modest + stylish

Leggings were around back then to be worn as athletic wear but were limited to Jazzercise class, 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.

I wore leggings a ton this winter for Dressember! Read more about Dressember here.

Leggings vs pants from tabithadumas.com
Dressember

So what’s with the “leggings as pants” deal??

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}

Leggings vs pants from tabithadumas.com
Stepping out after a workout

I distinctly remember when Lularoe started and they proudly proclaimed…

“Leggings are pants!”

There’s even a mug on Etsy.

Leggings vs pants from tabithadumas.com
On on Etsy

I wear my leggings primarily on weekends and mostly at home because, even with my Lularoe Irma top, I feel self-conscious.

Leggings vs pants from tabithadumas.com
My Lularoe leggings and Irma tunic
To their credit, most gals wear their leggings appropriately under long tops, skirts or dresses or with layers over top.

It’s worth noting that Lularoe leggings are thicker and more flattering than most leggings, too.

Some ladies, however, took this as an 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, to me, simply show too much.

But what about fitted pants?

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

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 just choose to wear them like leggings. 

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 from tabithadumas.com
Outfit from Natalie Attired–read more here

Here’s the rare exception when I wear my fitted black pants with shorter tops. It was once as a holiday party and they’re my “special occasion pair” that, if you look closely, not only have a zipper and pockets but also a “pleather” panel down each side. You cannot see any skin or underwear lines and the details mean they translate as pants. No one thought I was wearing leggings that night.

Leggings vs pants from tabithadumas.com
My fancy black pants

I see women all the time wearing leggings 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! 

Leggings vs. Pants -tabithadumas.com image consultant and style strategist

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About Tabitha Dumas

Seeing women showing UP to their life authentically and confidently--THAT is what excites me. I am a strategist, bringer of the fun, trail blazer and agent of encouragement offering creative and effective strategies to help women elevate their image and expand their influence. I'm also a magazine junkie, dedicated wife, fun-loving mama, bargain shopper and story teller trying to use my powers for good in this crazy world. I love my life!
View all posts by Tabitha Dumas →

5 thoughts on “Leggings vs pants

  1. I agree. Leggings are not pants. I purchased my first pair of leggings recently and also bought a couple long shirts to wear with them.

  2. Well at last I guess this is all a matter of a personal choice, Some women might find pants more comfy than leggings, I have come across women who are very skeptical about wearing leggings just because they think that it will block the blood supply as they are very tight. They just cant wear them just because of the way leggings looks. However my favorite are leggings I do wear them regularly and I wear them in my gym too.

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