A Leg-Up on Leggings

Before I was born, leggings seemed to be a fashion statement among girls and women.  Leggings either proved to be a positive addition to one’s wardrobe, or an addition gone terribly wrong…        K. Cospito

 

 

In the 1980s, leggings seemed to hit a new level of popularity.  (I am actually not quite sure if leggings were ever popular, or even existed, before this decade.)  Leggings were a good idea to: “punks,” who seemed to wear them as a rebellious fashion statement; punk rockers, who probably started the trend- (perhaps “battle of the leggings” were held instead of “battle of the bands” among female rockers?); the average teenage girl who wore them with short skirts or long shirts; and those who exercised.  In the 1990s, the same sort of crowds as in the 80s wore leggings, but probably in fewer quantities.

Today, leggings can even serve as a classy fashion statement—as well as a fun/cute one—with the appropriate long sweater or shirt, short dress, or short skirt.  Leggings can even be worn under athletic shorts during a sporting event. A recent popular choice is the choice of wearing leggings with boots– UGG-typed warm boots as well as dress boots.   However, I stress LONG shirt/sweater, or SHORT dress/skirt.  A regular length shirt, say, a T-shirt, should not be worn with leggings.  My reason: leggings are not pants.  Leggings resemble a layer of skin more than they resemble pants.  Yes, there are thicker leggings than others, but my opinion—and probably many other people’s opinion—still stands.  Also, leggings should never be worn under a dress or skirt that’s length is below the knee.  I don’t understand the purpose of this “fashion” choice.  Leggings can be worn to keep one warm, even under pants.  However, warmth is not usually a deciding factor when a woman chooses to wear a dress, so leggings should not be considered in the decision-making process either—unless, like I’ve stated, the dress is too short to be considered an appropriate dress.

Leggings come in all colors, types of fabric (usually with a common factor of stretchiness), textures, and patterns.  In the 1990s (at least when I was a young girl) leggings were footed—which could be classified as a sort of “tights.”  These legging-type tights were popular for a while in the nineties—they served as a more dressy choice.  They also came in different colors, textures and patterns.  When the 21st century hit, this type of leggings were booted out by the 1980s classics and what we are familiar with today—the cropped legging which falls somewhere beneath the calf.

Looking back at the 80s style more closely, the “punks” wore neon-colored or patterned leggings under short skirts, along with studded bracelets and necklaces, and maybe even Doc Martin boots—hardcore, clunky, high leather boots which lace all the way up.   The 80s rockers wore leggings with more extreme clothing such as costumes, possibly consisting of a tutu-like skirt and even “arm leggings;” the individual arm sleeves.  This look could be complete with foot apparel of pumps.   The average teenage girl wore any color legging with a jean or corduroy short skirt, or with a short, jumper-like dress.  Converse Chuck Taylors or Converse-like shoes would have been the shoes of choice. The exercise leggings were a whole other story; these undoubtedly came in all different colors—not necessarily neon—and were usually accompanied with a high-cut leotard and legwarmers for over the leggings from the ankle to the shin.

Today, there are less 80s-typed “punks” and fewer 80s-styled female rockers– at least it’s not the typical pop culture.  That is not to say that leggings are not being used in ways that they had been before.  Girls still wear leggings under short skirts and exercise in them with leg warmers (maybe not with the accompaniment of the high-cut, colored leotard, however).  Instead of Doc Martins as the normal footwear for “punky” girls, high-top converse—even as high as to the knee—are one popular choice.  For some edgy girls, the 80s rocker outfits of leggings with tutus are an appealing choice.  The average teenage girl with no specific stereotype attached to her persona, might wear leggings with long shirts/sweaters, or short dresses/skirts.  Footwear of choice: UGG (-typed) boots, flats, Chuck Taylors, high- heels or basically any other non-clunky, non-super athletic, non-outdoorsy-typed shoe.

Whether or not leggings will last for years to come is unknown to me. However, one thing I do know for sure is that leggings shouldn’t last for multiple decades in one person’s wardrobe—at least not in public.  An age limit on leggings is hard to tack down, but a good tip to consider…especially if any of the above “no-no’s” are violated.

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