A closet hero is an item of clothing which, once purchased, quickly becomes indispensable to its owner. Here at TFP, we don’t believe that there are particular items which “every woman” should own: we’re all too different to need or want exactly the same clothes. We do, however, believe that most people have their own closet heroes, and in this regular column, we’ll be sharing some of ours: and hopefully some of yours, too….
If you’d told us a few years ago that we’d one day be describing leggings – LEGGINGS – as a “closet hero”, we’d probably have laughed in your face. Actually, though, we weren’t the least bit surprised when they came up in the list of suggestions on our first Closet Heroes post, because the fact is, leggings have changed. Not PHYSICALLY, obviously. They’re still the same, stretchy, occasionally baggy, footless-tight-like garments they’ve always been, but their role in our closets has most definitely changed, as has our perception of them.
When leggings first made their return to the style scene a few years ago, we have to admit, we were horrified. Our memories of leggings centred around the garments of the late 80s/early 90s, which were typically worn with baggy t-shirts, ra-ra-skirts (in the 80s) and a whole lot of neon. As it turned out, our worries about their return weren’t totally un-founded. There are a LOT of really bad leggings out there, after all, and there are a lot of GOOD leggings which are being worn badly – i.e., as pants. Which they are NOT.
BUT. While we accept that leggings are not without their pitfalls and dangerous, and that when they go bad, they go really, REALLY bad, we also agree with the reader who suggested them for this slot that they can be a really useful part of the modern-day wardrobe. They are, for instance, an excellent alternative to tights for many people. “Buy WHY, Fashion Police?” we hear you cry. “Why not just wear TIGHTS instead?” Well, because tights can be uncomfortable. Saggy crotches, baggy knees, that horrible feeling when you pull on the last pair of tights in the drawer, only to instantly snag them on something and create a giant ladder… And, of course, you could also say some of these things about leggings. They definitely won’t ladder, though, and if you find a really good pair, the thicker fabric and higher lycra content can make them much less likely to sag, too. They’re also warmer than tights, which makes them indispensable in cold weather, too.
If you’d rather just stick to REAL tights, however, leggings still have their uses. They can make a slightly-too-short dress seem much more appropriate/wearable, for instance, and if you like wearing dresses, but don’t like getting your bare legs out, they can allow you to have the best of both worlds. Oh, and while they can be warmer than tights in winter, the footless nature of leggings also means they can be cooler than tights in spring and summer, too.
Finally, although we’ve taken a pretty firm stance on the “leggings are not pants” issue, we’re going to put our hands up and admit that we don’t have an issue – and actually quite like – leggings worn ALMOST as pants: i.e. with something covering the crotch/butt area. With a longline top or tunic, they’re actually not THAT much different from skinny jeans, and perfectly acceptable for the same kinds of events you’d wear those for.
Oh, and the best leggings we’d recommend? Primark’s own brand “shapewear” leggings. No, seriously. They may be one of the cheapest pairs out there, and we don’t have much on an opinion on the “slimming” effect they claim to have, but these have a super-high lycra content which means they don’t sag at the knees or crotch, and they’re also totally opaque, so they won’t go see-through after a couple of washes, or allow your knickers to shine through the fabric. (Which obviously wouldn’t be an issue for you anyway, because for that to happen, you’d have to be wearing your leggings as pants. Which you wouldn’t be.)
Of course, as with all of our so-called Closet Heroes, we’re not suggesting for a second that this is an item “every woman must own”, or anything even remotely like that. While some of you have welcomed leggings back into your lives, and are wearing them with pride, we know many more of you continue to shun them completely, and probably totally skipped this wall o’text in order to go straight to the comments box and tell us how much you hate them.
So, which is it to be? Do you love leggings or loathe them?