Leggings as Pants: You Can Do It!

Pants are confusing. defines pants as “trousers.” Wiktionary defines them as “an outer garment worn by men and women that covers the body from the waist downwards, covering each leg separately, usually as far as the ankles.” Google tells me that if you say “pants,” British people will think you mean undies. So what even are pants, really?

Who cares. This ambiguity allows for flexibility and fun retorts whenever anyone tries to tell you that leggings — athletic and otherwise — aren’t pants! Yet there seems to be some fog surrounding who can take advantage of pants’ vague definitions. (Answer: everyone can.)

Katie Sturino saw more than one post on here about wearing leggings as pants, like the one about Chanel’s kneecaps and the time Leandra couldn’t stop wearing leggings as pants. She said to me, “Quick q: Can I do the leggings-as-pants thing?”

And I said to her, “Do you have a PULSE?”


ASOS Curve skirt suit, River Island coat, H&M T-shirt, Outdoor Voices leggings, Nike men’s Cortez sneakers, Yeah Bunny socks

So anyway, you know where this is going: on a journey to show that anyone can wear leggings as pants. All it takes is the willingness to withstand at least one comment like, “Did you forget to get changed all the way after the gym?” Like no, obviously not, asshole. That would be super unhealthy for the hoo-ha. Except that in outfit number one, I took the gym thing and went for a run. Leggings + sneakers + a tee will make your skirt suit less Queen of England-y. (Not that the Queen of England isn’t my daily source of inspiration.)


Marina Rinaldi jacket, J.Crew men’s half-zip sweater, Outdoor Voices leggings, Saint Laurent men’s boots, ASOS striped shirt, Dolce & Gabbana sunglassesManu Atelier bag (in slideshow)

If you’re looking at your leggings like, “WTF YOU ARE SO TIGHT HOW DO I DRESS AROUND YOU,” pretend they are jeans. That is literally it. (And then the good thing is that because they are not jeans, they’re inherently more interesting and your outfit gets that special little weird zing that so many of us crave.)


Tory Sport sweater, Eloquii jacket, Outdoor Voices leggings, Ariat men’s cowboy boots, Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses (in slideshow)

With leggings, you eliminate expectations. “Proper pants” could have made this look a little too equestrian. (No such thing in my book but whatever. Different pots for different lids.) Turtleneck sweaters are always a good choice when it’s not sweat weather out, and athletic leggings balance out the kitsch of cowboy boots.

Got it? Get stretching!

Check out Katie Sturino’s website The 12ish Style and follow her on Instagram @The12ishStyle. Photos by Nicole Cohen; follow her on Instagram @sketchfortytwo.

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond is a writer, creative consultant, and Man Repeller alumnus living in New York City.

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