I have never worn leggings in public. I did reluctantly agree to try on a pair when I went to a rather well-known athletic apparel store. I knew exactly how they would look on me, but my friend had to see for herself. I pulled them on and glimpsed myself in the mirror – they were hideous! I remember thinking, “Why the hell would anyone ever wear something so revealing and unflattering in public?”
My friend thought I had a great arse and said they looked hot on me. I graciously thanked her for the compliment and proceeded to peel off the sheer, stretchy second skin.
Leggings are the chosen uniform for many women, a phenomenon hilariously satirised in a 2015 parody clip shot in Sydney that went viral after being posted on YouTube and has since been viewed more than 5½ million times.
They are no longer only for hot-bodied gym junkies or dedicated yogis. There is a pair out there for everyone and for every occasion, the choices as endless as the prices are shockingly variable.
Gone, too, are the days of wearing a simple black pair – leggings have since been injected with a serious dose of funk, with the likes of cut-outs, mesh, lace, fish scales, leather strapping and more.
Take those from Melbourne textile designer Captain Robbo, for instance. These self-styled “Adventure Pants” are hand-printed, with designs ranging from clouds to foliage and old maps.
Wolford boutiques sell leggings, too, made of velvet. The company’s website calls them “easygoing, sexy looking”, “a useful and sophisticated essential for the entire year”.
And this is true; women do wear them all year long – to the gym, the supermarket, the park, to cafes, on planes and to the movies.
You can sleep in them, too! Some leggings even promise to give you that pert butt-lift look, but mostly they just promise to make you look “sexy and shapely”. Well, I’m not so sure about that.
As mentioned, the price range is staggering. At one extreme, Target sells them for as little as $8. If, however, your wallet is a little fatter you can order a red stretch-satin pair by Balenciaga at Net-a-Porter for $3300. It’s not all bad, though; they come with built-in stilettos and a fuchsia-pink silk midi dress.
There are a lot of leggings on Net-aPorter, and quite a lot of them do look very sophisticated. And who doesn’t want an instant butt lift? So, why have I never worn leggings in public?
Well, maybe realism and honesty have something to do with it. I know that some women, in the right conditions, look bloody amazing in leggings – there are thousands of pictures on Pinterest to prove it. But I also know that the vast majority of women aren’t like that – and that I’m one of them. So stepping out in what is essentially a second skin doesn’t get me all excited – and certainly doesn’t make me feel confident.
I know that leggings share a lot of information because I see that information all the time. No wonder one male wrote that he enjoys them because they don’t leave much to the imagination, or that another said he liked seeing “camel toes” because they turned him on. (Imagine what the more robust “moose knuckle” would do to this guy!)
Leggings routinely reveal the wearer’s choice of underwear, which is often a G-string (a classic pairing, you could say). But do we really want to broadcast this sort of information any more than we want to draw attention to our flabby bottoms, muffin tops, massive thighs, roly-poly bellies, big bums or rippling cellulite? Are they really the best choice?
Leggings draw the eye. I know this because they draw mine, every time. I challenge you not to look at a woman in leggings – it’s impossible.
When I’m dressed in something too revealing, or uncomfortable, I look and feel uncomfortable. And that’s how leggings make me feel. They may be versatile, affordable and convenient, but they’re not flattering. For me, leggings diminish my power and my confidence. So while I love the funky designs, colours and patterns, they are simply not for me.