At the end of last year, I spent four days near Malibu for a fitness retreat with The Ranch. While many of the guests there had hopped on planes to L.A. from all over the place for the benefits of its legendary workout program and organic vegan detox—and you can bet I was excited to dive into the wellness side of things, too—I was really there to test-drive some activewear. With eight hours of workouts a day (yes, you read that right), including daily 12-mile hikes followed by yoga and circuit training, there was no shortage of time to put some items to the test IRL.
It was great figuring out which pieces both looked cool and stood up to hours of cardio, and I quickly narrowed in on the items that did. Notably, it was the coordinating crop tops and leggings from Girlfriend Collective, Nike, and Outdoor Voices that passed the test and have since become staples in my workout regimen. But beyond that, the trip completely changed my thoughts on leggings. Sure, I wear leggings all of the time—whether it’s to a dance class or just to throw on to grab coffee on the weekend. They’re really a functional piece of my wardrobe, but it wasn’t until I went on this retreat that I realized how empowered leggings really make me feel.
After climbing to the top of a cliffside in Malibu, I stood there looking over the Pacific Ocean below and remember thinking how proud I was of making it that far and how strong and powerful I felt. And it was the leggings I was wearing that allowed me to move around unencumbered and to hike for hours with ease and make it to the top of that cliff. No bulky layers, no unbreathable pieces, beads of sweat quickly slicked away.
Now, this is in stark contrast to an opinion piece on yoga pants that came out earlier this year. It argued that leggings are too "sexy" and "bad for women," and it quickly became a point of discussion in the Who What Wear office. And here's my take: While I'm not going to tell anyone they must wear leggings, I will argue that they can if they want to—and I hope they feel as empowered as I do when they put them on.