Man Leggings

Yes, guys can wear them too

Joe+accessorized+his+black+leggings+with+a+sweater+and+a+button+down+shirt+in+Carlson+Library.
Joe accessorized his black leggings with a sweater and a button down shirt in Carlson Library.

Joe accessorized his black leggings with a sweater and a button down shirt in Carlson Library.

Rachel Nearhoof / IC

Rachel Nearhoof / IC

Joe accessorized his black leggings with a sweater and a button down shirt in Carlson Library.

Joe Heidenescher, Community Editor

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Attention all dudes: leggings aren’t just for women, and wearing them isn’t going to magically erase your precious masculinity.

I never realized how truly comfortable and freeing a simple pair of legging pants could feel until I decided to wear them for an entire week.

The first time I ever wore leggings was last summer when I bought a pair of running compression pants. You know the wicking kind that helps keep you cool? I absolutely loved them; they are so comfy, airy and the range of motion is ridiculous, but I never considered wearing them outside of the gym.

But as the temperature dropped, many of my female friends began breaking out their leggings and wearing them in public. Secretly I was seething with jealousy; why are they able to go to class wearing pants that feel like clouds wrapped to their legs? That’s not fair. Why do guys have such limited trouser choices? Why am I stuck between wearing only khakis and jeans?

In reality, no one is telling me I have to dress a certain way. I mean, except for the Internet, my closed-minded friends, gender roles, societal norms, judgmental employers and perhaps everyone with a pair of eyes. I’m not going to lie, it’s scary to run against the grain — being vulnerable enough to be judged publically.

Then, my world was rocked a little when I ran across a pic of Jaden Smith in a dress, a real life dress, the same exact dress that style icon Lady GaGa had worn.

I was shocked.

Then it hit me: “If Jaden Smith can rock a dress and not care, then I can wear leggings.”

What I was actually beginning to discover is that fashion, in all senses, is truly androgynous. Fashion is art for your body, and I’m pretty sure people weren’t telling Van Gogh his portraits were too feminine for a male painter.

Sadly, this realization did not give me all the courage I needed to walk into the women’s section and start trying on leggings. (Also sadly, they don’t really sell leggings for guys, but I have hopes that will change someday). Fortunately, my good, open-minded friends took me with them and helped me navigate the scary “other side” of clothing stores.

In the end, I bought two pairs of leggings: a pair of plain black ones and a pair of red, lumberjack-plaid ones. From the minute I popped my slightly-larger foot through the smaller ankle hole, I knew I wasn’t going to care what others thought. I was really comfy and free.

Last week I wore leggings to my editorial meetings, I wore them to a concert, I wore them when I went to restaurants, I wore them to the bar and I even wore them to church. Gasp!

Guess what? Not a single person seemed to care. No disgusted looks, no snide remarks, not even a disguised comment. They didn’t care if I was wearing leggings, and neither did I. This level of empowerment felt dangerous, both my legs and my hippie spirit felt free and wild.

Yet, over the course of the week I ran into a few drawbacks. The biggest problem arose when I tried to make sure I wasn’t showcasing any packages I didn’t want shipped or handled.

I had to make sure things were tucked away so they wouldn’t be super visible, or I had to find ways to cover that area up. Neither was super hard. To cover up the no-nos, just wear a long shirt or sweater, a long scarf or sport athletic shorts over top of the leggings.

In the case of leggings, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. The cons might be the fear of judgment and perhaps some accidental bulge action, but the pros include feeling incredibly comfy, having an increased range of motion, looking slimmer and adding a huge variety of outfit choices.

You have so many options with leggings. You can look sporty with some Nikes and basketball shorts, or you can look like a NYC Fashion Week model with a larger jacket and army green leggings. You can wear boots, Toms, some white Vans or Converse. I’m not kidding you, the options are pretty limitless.

In spite of all the open-minded reasons I just gave, I know some of you are saying, “Joe, leggings are for girls. You aren’t a girl.”

I’ve got one thing to say to this: who cares? Leggings are much more than just feeling good, or showing off your body. They are quickly becoming a very integral part of the fashion world.

Fashion is much more than trying to just look good. Fashion is about art, creativity, expression and experimentation, not about gender or trying to fit in. So be different sometimes, try something new and you just might love the way you look. Do not let the Internet or your friends tell you otherwise.

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9 Comments

  • Ron Reinhardt

    Great article – I think the time has been slowly coming for mens leggings as pants, but more so especially over the last few years with shorts layered over leggings – the Koreans and Japanese do it that way all the time. You pretty much nailed the look, but to me its better with shorts, as its easy, and adds a bit of modesty, like this – https://sebastiancity.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/5ceec5ccf832f5483f366830482bdf8f.jpg?w=683&h=1024 – this way, you can go more places, and do more things, just knocking around, you know. And you got a place to keep your keys and wallet.

    [Reply]

    tjg1984 Reply:

    Wearing shorts that go basically all the way to the knee isn’t “a bit of modesty” – it’s giving in completely to the same modesty standards that men have been dealing with for quite a while now. Joe’s look is a bit daring, but a slightly longer top should resolve the modesty issue.

    [Reply]

  • Rosario

    Leggings are very comfortable and the fit is so much better than any other pants I own. I started wearing women’s leggings in the early 80’s when you hardly ever seen women wearing them. I wear leggings daily now and hardly ever wear jeans any more. It’s all about comfort for me.

    [Reply]

    not impressed Reply:

    I agree with what you have just said, but seeing a picture of you from the waist down has reduced your credibility as I have seen you post this picture a hundred times in other media formats for no reason other than to expose yourself. Yuck

    [Reply]

  • Matthew B.

    Love the article. And kudos to you, Joe, for unabashedly diving into this social fashion experiment with confidence.

    One question, however, that’s been plaguing me since I read your article…

    Where the heck did you keep your wallet and phone?

    For women, I assume they keep their items in a purse whilst wearing leggings. But for us men, the man-purse hasn’t become socially acceptable outside of major metropolitan areas yet.

    [Reply]

  • UnJeans Leggings

    Congratulations Joe on discovering the fit, feel and comfort of wearing leggings. Leggings are perfect casual wear for women AND men.
    Having worn leggings for years, I’m aware of people’s comments both negative and very positive. After all, it’s not the leggings on the man but the man in the leggings. Everyone looks good in leggings and some people look great! Humans come in all shapes, sizes and permutations. We should all rejoice in that fact and champion everyone for who they are.

    [Reply]

  • Robby

    Sitting here in the airport wearing bamboo modal leggings reading your article. Way past due! Next…dresses and “anything but earth tones”! Break the patriarchal machine Joe. ????

    [Reply]

  • Dave Wood

    There IS an online store for men’s leggings! Meggingsman.com

    [Reply]

  • Neil Sanghvi

    Joe’s outfit does look practical and normal, and not exhibitionist at all. I find leggings more comfortable to wear when cycling to university and back than my nice needle cord trousers or spray on jeans, which are more likely to get stained with dirt and oil, or uncomfortable in wet weather. The tricky part is pairing them with the right level of smart-casual so you don’t look like you’re always on the way to the gym. Whether they are completely family friendly in places like coffee shops depends on a lot of things I think – maybe a blazer is a good gesture, or a pullover that can be pulled down to cover your junk and bottom, if there are people about who might think it inappropriate. I find most of the time people don’t care, with just the right level of attention from girls.

    [Reply]

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