"Leggings are the sweatpants of our time. Women of all shapes and sizes put them on to feel comfortable. If they feel sexy while they're at it, EVEN BETTER. Criticizing a woman's intention behind her personal clothing choice is mean and accomplishes nothing. We should be lifting other women up to the best of our abilities. Doing that will go a long way."
I was sitting at the airport this weekend (wearing leggings and sneakers), biding my time on my phone when I came across an article titled "Why Yoga Pants Are Bad for Women." As someone who puts on a pair of leggings probably every day (and, fittingly, has written about it), I of course had to click. Will they give me a blood clot? Cut years off my life? Inhibit my workout?
Nope, I realized as I began to scan my way down the page. There was no science to back up those words—just an opinion. "We may be able to conquer the world wearing spandex," it read. "But wouldn't it be easier to do so in pants that don't threaten to show every dimple and roll in every woman over 30?"
In a world where women's reproductive rights are at risk, when our sisters and friends are saying #MeToo, when workers across industries are having to shout #TimesUp, should the battle we choose to fight really be against what we put on our bodies? Frankly, I don't think it matters why any woman decides to wear leggings. If that's what makes someone feel comfortable (or sexy, sure), there's no reason to critique that choice.
Personally—and just practically—speaking, I find that yoga pants allow me to run with ease, to lie in bed "dressed" but comfortable, and to head to the grocery store and the gym all in one go. Other women may prefer sweats, jeans, or tailored pants, and hey, that's okay too.
Needless to say, I got to the end of the article feeling bewildered. Looking down at the yoga pants on my own legs afterward, I remember thinking, Flying a red-eye is awful, and if a pair of body-hugging pants makes it even a little bit better, there's no question that I'm wearing them.
As it turns out, when I broached the topic with my co-workers, they too had a lot of feelings about yoga pants and their choice to wear them. So, I decided to let the Who What Wear team speak for themselves.
"I, for one, have never worn leggings to feel sexy. I've been practicing yoga for years, from long before the practice transformed into a trendy cult-fitness class. I can honestly say that I wear leggings because they are the only pants that allow my body to bend from Downward-Facing Dog to Eagle Pose and back again. Sweatpants, on the other hand, or any loose-fitting pants, would fall down my legs during an inverted pose or bunch up and limit my range of motion during any twisted pose. For me, yoga pants do have a specific function as far as a yoga practice is concerned."
"When I wear leggings to exercise (versus something baggy), I work harder, my posture is better, and I have more energy. The fact that I'm wearing a cute, flattering outfit (that happens to involve leggings) is a big motivator for me, not to mention the fact that they're just functional and comfortable. In my case, it has nothing to do with "trying to be sexy." But that said, if a woman does want to feel sexy and chooses to do so by wearing leggings, then she should. I don't think anyone should have to justify that."
"For me, leggings are a functional piece of my wardrobe. While I can't deny the flattering effect of a pair of high-waisted leggings, they're also essential for the workout classes I'm doing. A regular of dance classes and yoga sessions, they allow me to feel unencumbered. I can't really imagine going through a vinyasa with a pair of loose-fitting pants careening down my legs. But moreover, I just like wearing them and will throw on a pair on the weekend, whether it's to head on a hike or just grab coffee. And if I want to wear them, I certainly will. I don't make a habit of defending my sartorial choices."
"I wear leggings to pretty much every workout I go to, and I'll be honest: I like that I can see my body. I can see it working hard, I can see when my form is correct, and I sometimes can see when my body has changed, even the tiniest bit. If I feel sexy because of it, even better. I don't think I need to be the person who says 'it's not good manners for women to tell other women how to dress' or, ultimately, how to feel."
Now, shop some of our favorite leggings—because you have every right to put on a pair.