Are Leggings The “Everywhere” Pants?


Leggings are taking over our closets, hearts, and headlines. We’ve been sashaying from studio to street, flaunting our curves and embracing a new casual culture, but this trend isn’t without its critics.

Confused about whether or not leggings are for the workplace or gym? Or both?

A mom’s letter to a US college sparked controversy when she criticized the allure of the skin-tight pants. Legging devotees quickly came to the defense but left us with a few questions about our beloved non-pant pants.

Read on for answers to your most-asked stretchy-pant questions.

Are leggings meant to be worn as pants?

Source: Instagram

Depends who you ask! Maryann White, the Indiana mom who warned her local paper about these “naked” distractions clearly doesn’t think so. Luckily for leggings, local gals held a Leggings Pride Day in protest, and men and women posted pictures hashtagged #leggingsdayND on Twitter in solidarity with leggings wearers.  

United Airlines doesn’t think yoga pants are pant replacements either, stopping legging-clad teens from boarding a flight in 2017. Competitor Delta had the last laugh though, tweeting “Flying Delta means comfort (That means you can wear your leggings 😉).”

CELEB TAKE: William Shatner joined in, sharing a picture of himself wearing leggings on Star Trek.

Many women feel the conversation about leggings is just another attempt to police women’s bodies, stifling their freedom to dress as they please.

Are leggings professional attire?

Not everyone believes leggings are appropriate for work. A digital nomad’s ‘uniform’ won’t be the same as a bank clerk’s, although seeing leggings everywhere is part of a broader journey toward ‘comfort culture’.  Rising sales seem to show that more people are stepping out in gym pants more often.

Leggings are a $1 billion industry according to the NPD Group (Forbes, November 13, 2018.) Lululemon just shared news of record Q1 2019 sales, with a 39% rise year over year.

Source: Pinterest

Think the answer is a generational thing? Some believe that for Gen Y, leggings are lifestyle signifiers-  more about health and activity than everyday workwear. For Gen Z, they’re just a basic – the equivalent of jeans.

And leggings are the dress code du jour for most trendsetting celebs. Several have their own athleisure brands.

CELEB TAKE: Kate Hudson has Fabletics. Beyoncé launched her activewear line in 2016.  

Brands like Manifesta, Soybu, YogaClub, and Girlfriend Collective offer activewear pants most would be proud to step out in. Or as someone said “If wearing leggings as pants is wrong, I don’t want to be right!”

Which are the best workout leggings?  

Leggings have come a long way since DuPont chemist Joseph Shivers developed a stretchy synthetic fiber in 1959. This became known as Lycra or Spandex (an anagram of the word expands). Things have also changed a lot since the ‘80s, when Lycra leggings and aerobics were popularized by Jane Fonda, just as women’s sweaty gym-based exercise became socially acceptable. Leggings have evolved to be more niche, eco-friendly, comfy, and innovative.

Brand First Base make their performance wear from recycled fibers like new material, Econyl, derived from repurposed things like fishing nets. For every legging using recycled nylon, that’s 3.3. days of drinking water saved, 20.1km of emissions avoided, and 294.0kg of plastic waste recycled. We heart the choice of brands offering leggings for curvy gals. Brands like Lola Getts Active and Rainbeau have stylish collections to optimize performance.

Leggings now offer hacks borrowed from advances in support undies. Sweaty Betty’s Power Leggings, for instance, use “bum-sculpting” technology and 38% elastane for stretch & support. Yummy & Trendy’s American-made leggings include “The Mindful Collection”. Separates are designed from an ultra-lightweight material with ergonomic seams that flow with the body’s natural movement. These eco-friendly leggings are created from recycled plastic bottles.

For active men, Alo Yoga have several choices including bestseller Stability 2-in-one pants – a hybrid shorts and leggings combo with stretch fabric for a move-with-you feel, and moisture-wicking antimicrobial technology.

Looking for the best legging brands for beyond the gym? Here’s our expertly curated legging list:


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