A Look At Life: Leg It

7th September 2012

Leg It!

Stevie Martin

The humble legging has done well, having been enjoyed by 13th-16th century gentlemen, and reappearing from the 1960s through to the 80s and most of the early-to-mid 90s. How lovely, we thought. That’s a good and historically interesting innings… but now it's time for bootcut jeans/billowing skirts/anything else to step in and politely evict them from the wardrobe. Even when models started sporting them down the catwalks in 2005, all was still not lost. Models often wear bizarre stuff that fails to ignite the high street and, besides, this was a painless breed of legging that you could wear under skirts and look alright in. But then there were leggings being worn instead of trousers. Then patterns. Then, in 2007, Marni sent male models down the runway wearing man leggings. The fashion set referred to them as meggings and somewhere, way up in the sky, God cried and the legging experienced a full-on revival.

It's surprising they've hung on so long considering how unflattering they are in comparison to, say, the poncho, which lasted just six months in 2004. And allowed you to eat cake comfortably. To be honest, you could hide a whole one within those folds (say, for a surprise party) but you can't successfully hide a 3-tier sponge in a legging. This, of course, is no barometer with which to measure fashion but the legging is one style that crept into our consciousness and needs to creep the hell out again. Consider the following:

1. They are boring. We are all bored.
Everyone is wearing them. Everyone. If you've moved on from the under-a-denim-skirt-with-ballet-pumps-yawn-bleugh-2005 thing (well done) and are kooking about in patterned leggings and tee shirts, please note there's nothing edgy about this. Look around; everyone is doing it. Including many six year-olds. Jeans are cooler. Ponchos are cooler. [Okay, it was worth a shot.]

2. They are not flattering.
Unless you're a beanpole, leggings will never look as good as trousers or a long skirt. Or a skirt and tights. Or anything else you could possibly conceive that may be placed on your lower half, bar those knickers Lady Gaga attempted to popularise. And, if you happen to be a beanpole, leggings just highlight this in a two-strings-of-licorice-dangling-into-some-boots way, so nobody wins. Except the leggings. Don't let them win.

3. You can see your pants.
Even if they're not semi-transparent (most of the black ones are) you can still see a crisp outline which means you always need good undercrackers. Or, at the very least, acceptable pants – but why should you care what pants you're wearing? You're nipping out to Tesco on a Sunday. You should be free to wear all the underwear in the land without being judged by knicker snobs and VPL Nazis. And yes, if you want to wear all the knickers in the UK simultaneously, leggings will never allow you that option. An option that's both rarely taken and always nice to have. Solution? Wear billowing harem trousers to accommodate extra bulk. Or a poncho.

4. They're deceitful and they lie.
Leggings are a fad that keep subtly reinventing themselves in order to worm their way into the ‘staple’ category. Like Madonna. Think about it… we've had brightly coloured, patterned, ripped effect, stirruped, wet-look, woollen, denim, spandex. Sorry, stirruped? What? How is that acceptable in the supermarket on a Sunday? The only unexplored option is furry black yeti-leggings which, quite frankly, I’d be totally on board with, mainly to prevent people wearing wet-look leggings. All these wacky creations are just leggings in sheeps clothing, and we're all being fooled.

Yes, of course they're comfy, easy to throw on and inexpensive, but it's been seven years. Seven years. There has to be an alternative, a new craze that will finally push them into some form of sartorial death-vortex, and it's obvious that the poncho just isn't a suitable replacement.

Or is it? Enter the legponcho. If you want to invent this, nobody's stopping you and you'd probably get a knighthood. Mainly from me.

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