Closet Heroes: Leggings

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….

leggings

Leggings: ASOS

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? 

 

9 Comments

  • June 11, 2013

    Daisy

    Loathe. I do not own leggings, and I would certainly not be seen in public with them. I don’t know why I feel so strongly about them, but it’s even worse when they’re anything but black, aka coloured or -worse- printed.

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  • June 11, 2013

    annette tirette

    I own a few pairs of leggings, but I only get the ones with a high cotton percentage. The main reason for me to wear them (with skirts and boots) during the colder months is that I find the softer cotton a lot more pleasant against my legs than synthetic tights. So yes, leggings for running errands and working from home, tights for any other occasion!

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  • June 11, 2013

    Rosie

    I love leggings, I wear them everyday. they are a saver for college, i can wear them all day then go out all night and not worry about flashing anyone. The help me wear dresses without feeling overly dressed up, and they are generally a life saver when it comes to not having time to shave in the morning. I just wish people would get the LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS rule! I see so many girls my gave walking around with everything on display like i don’t want to see your lovely lacy thong *sighs*

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  • June 11, 2013

    lizvocal

    I’ve been working out and have embraced leggings at my advanced age (old enough to remember the 80s) as a way to show off my hard work. Only with long tunics, though.

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  • June 11, 2013

    Eleonore

    i so agree with you on everything you wrote : at first it was a big no-no and now i can’t live without them. I wear them under short dresses they keep me warm and i even wear them unnoticed under long skirts. AND I don’t understand why so many girls can’t understand they are NOT PANTS ! I must admit these girls feel very secure with their figure !

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  • June 11, 2013

    Rachel Gray

    LOVE: On my 19 & 21 year old slim, fit daughters
    LOATHE: On my 48 year old butt-drooping Self

    Seriously, my daughters can wear leggings any way they wish because they are beautiful girls and that is a FACT, not Mother’s biased opinion. That said, I can wear leggings with tunics or caftans, which are appropriate to the dignity of my age and which also cover my backside sufficiently. That latter part is key, I think, to wearing leggings: bottom covered by one’s top.

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  • June 11, 2013

    Mary

    To be honest, I bought a pair of leggings and never wore them. Instead, I cut the legs off and wore them as bike shorts, which actually did make them kind of a closet hero! Since I like wearing shorter skirts, a bit of bike short peeking out can really make an outfit a little more appropriate, and still keep the basic look. I guess that you could say the same for leggings, but I just like the way that shorts look better. 😛

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  • June 12, 2013

    Erika

    Love. So many dresses are shorter than I would like, and leggings make them wearable. But they really come into their own in winter, layered under skirts from mini to maxi and with boots. Warmth wins!

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  • June 25, 2013

    Gonda Leona

    I have 3 pairs of American apparel winter leggings, they are nice warm and thick and really have a lifting effect, I can’t live without them, they light up my life actually. And yes I wore them as a pant sometime with my Viv Westwood tunic etc.

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