On wearing leggings in public


Lisa Pryor


Photo: Kirstin Sinclair

It was early on a Saturday evening when I hit rock bottom. With six bottles of cheap moscato in my shopping basket, I inched forward in the queue. It was not the alcohol that shamed me most. It was my outfit: a hoodie with leggings. Leggings as pants, in public, on a Saturday night.

My gateway to the public wearing of black tights, in all their visible-panty-line glory, began with early morning Pilates. At first I'd just wear them for the class then the drive home. Soon my mind wandered. Surely it wouldn't be so bad to stop for coffee on the way home without changing? So I did.

And it felt good.

Within weeks, my lycra interludes were stretching past lunch. My leggings were taking me to kindy pick up, the library, the shops. "I'm not a slob," I'd tell myself. "I'm sporty." At least I hadn't sunk to uggies and trackies and, anyway, I could stop any time.


But I was not ready to leave the sartorial twilight of the legging wearers. It is our fault that clothing chains like Lululemon Athletica and Lorna Jane have become so successful, providing the service of making us look like we have just come from a yoga class even when we haven't.

In my neighbourhood, wearing fitness gear out of context has become a popular weekend pastime. The cafes are heavy with high-tech fabrics, which have never known sweat, let alone had the chance to wick it away. There are bike pants that have only ever known the high-intensity workout of stretching to accommodate eggs benedict.

So rather than go cold turkey on my stretchy pants addiction, I've decided to embrace it. I'm going to swap my saggy old leggings for a pair of genuine running tights, the kind that look so synthetic they should come impregnated with a broad spectrum anti-fungal cream. This way, everyone who sees me on the street will think I'm on my way to a half-marathon training session - and I could be, but first I just need to drop off this mail and pick up the dry cleaning.