just a thought

Can Leggings Be a State of Mind?

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Can I wear leggings to work? It’s an ancient question. In fact, once you start googling, you learn that the majority of the internet is spam, porn, and questions about the propriety of leggings. But still, today, in 2019, a woman doesn’t know: If leggings make me feel fleet and capable when I wear them in an exercise class, will I feel the same, wearing them at the office?

Again, many others have addressed this question.

But I had to experience it for myself. So I did it, I wore leggings to work. They were sturdy and matte, black with a purple pattern. No one seemed to notice because it was the end of the day, and in general I felt uncomfortable and exposed, so I mostly stayed at my desk. The power I’d felt wearing leggings on the street became something else in the office, something shrunken and ashamed.

What am I doing? Is this disrespectful? Why didn’t I at least wear cute boots? 

Maybe this is why leggings are awkward at the office: If you’re worried about looking inappropriate, you’ll feel inappropriate. And so, as I discovered, leggings are more of a mentality than a garment. When they feel like something you’re getting away with, they tie you down. When they don’t, they set you free.

At least that’s how it was for me. I asked the men in the image above for their thoughts, and each emphasized that, especially on the job, he wouldn’t have worn leggings without a tunic. “I love leggings,” said the one on the right, “but I’d never leave the house without at least a blazer or an oversize sweater.”

Can I Wear Leggings to Work?