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17 September 2007

Lost that Loving Feeling: Leggings


Oh leggings! How I loathe thee. You are the cockroach of the clothing world. While spandex now makes you possible, even before spandex was invented in 1959, you had already lived a full and complete life. Here I present a time line of the the legging trend.

1. I would say the most famous early incarnation of leggings were "hose" worn during the Renaissance. In modern times we are primarily aware of this fashion because of the profusion of Renaissance fairs, where one can go and see grown men wearing leggings. Is something really fashionable if you could show up at Renaissance fair and find that you match the historical reenactors? Just be VERY happy that we are not wearing an early Renaissance incarnation of hose: they are believed to have originally been crotchless.

2. Throughout the late 80s and early 90s leggings and "biking shorts" were HOT. I can remember one pair of biking shorts that I used to wear that had a kind of fishnet-like cutout portion that went from mid thigh to my knee. I felt these were the coolest item of clothing in my entire closet. Tragically, someone left some bubblegum in their pocket when they put their pants in the laundry, which found their way between the buttocks of my biking shorts, ruining them forever. I was inconsolable. God or my mother must have secretly been intervening on my behalf.

It must have been sometime during this period that Vera Wang and Donna Karen became deeply enamored with leggings, enough so to make them a permanent staple in their wardrobe long after the rest of us had declared "Leggings are dead, and it will be a cold day in hell before they ever become fashionable again." Right around this time we all started wearing "bootcut pants." Remarkably, bootcut pants looked a lot like bell bottoms, which our mothers had thrown away years before declaring "Bell bottoms are dead, and it will be a cold day in hell before they ever become fashionable again. Bring on the shoulder pads and power suits!"

But, I digress. Back to Vera and Donna, it is 2005 now and they have been wearing leggings for twenty years beyond their fashionableness. It would be pretty much impossible for this to continue without sparking a trend. Some model is zipping up her $10,000 Vera Wang wedding dress backstage and she is totally in love with the dress, the hair, the makeup! She has succumbed to magic of an expensive wedding dress, she is day-dreaming about massive bouqets of peonies. Its almost like being on a drug. Anyone who has ever planned a wedding will know what I am talking about...the model has drunk the koolaid. In the midst of the model's euphoria Vera Wang walks by in her leggings. The model, who was about 3 in the late 80s, thinks: "oh! there is nothing more glamorous and perfect in the entire world than Vera Wang, and she is wearing leggings! Maybe I should wearing leggings too!"

So, the model goes immediately out after the show and buys some leggings. And, since she is a model she looks pretty hot. Who What Wear Daily features her as their Model of the Moment, wearing her new signature leggings. The legging trend is reborn. Well, at least I imagine it went something like that. In reality I think it might have actually had something to do with Kate Moss and Siena Miller as well.

3. There are some people who manage to look pretty hot leggings. Their ankles look so tiny! After all, isn't black supposed to be slimming? If we swath our legs in tight dark black leggings, it should compress some of the fat and with the added magic of black we will all soon look as hot and svelte as Mila Jovovich. Like some sad lemming I am pulled in by the group think. I wear leggings which I stole from my mother (which I think she had had since 1992) with a hot new bubble skirt. Oh for shame. Fortunately I only did it twice.

4. We originally all stuck to the "new rules" of leggings: wear leggings under a dress or skirt and for heavens sake make sure that dress hits at mid thigh. Some renegades, such as Chloe Sevigny, begin to wear their tops shorter over their leggings. Sadly, teenagers have taken note. I see girls on the street, girls with nice bodies, but not model bodies, wearing this look and I wish I could grab a big pashmina and wrap it around their waists to save them from further humiliation. Many of these girls obviously think they look hot. Many of these girls are also obviously wearing thongs, not g-strings, because I can see the thong outline through their leggings. The beginning of the end is upon us.

5. Oh Peaches! You've Jumped the Shark! Your top is too short. The short shirt variant of the legging trend was always ill advised. And those leggings! All of us here in the real world have been questioning the "colored jeans" trend, and then you bring us the "colored legging" variant. Words fail me.

The brilliant Tim Gunn actually gasped and physically winced when his sidekick suggested a girl wear leggings and a dress on his new Bravo show "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style". It is good to know I am not the only person who currently is not loving leggings. I'm hoping when they come back for their third incarnation I will be sensible enough to avoid being seduced yet again! This time around two days of leggings was two days too many.

Image sources at flickr.


WendyB said...

I'm not a big wearer of leggings...not against them either...but regardless, very funny post!

Perfectly Plump Preppy 2.0 said...

I loathe leggings. I just got back from Toronto which is apparently the Legging Capital of the World.

Amy Steinberg said...

Thank you for taking a stand against leggings. I did it once in the 80's and ONCE was enough!!

Diana @ So Fash'on said...

I used to wear them all the time, but just got sick of them:)