Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

January 24, 2008

Leggings: Still Not Pants

Filed under: Honey. No. — Miss Plumcake @ 4:30 pm

Friends, I am concerned. There has been a rash –and I’m not sure I don’t mean that literally– of inappropriate legging abuse. I believe in the early days of this blog I went on record as being a bit of a legging apologist, with the caveat that leggings are sui generis and not to be confused with tights or, even worse, pants.

So it is with heavy heart I report to you that I have seen no fewer than four big girls wearing butt-grazing “big shirts” and leggings in professional situations. There is a time and a place for a big sequins shirt and leggings sans pants. That time is 1972 and that place is the soundstage of Liza Minnelli’s groundbreaking musical spectacular “Liza With a Z” choreographed by one Mister Bob Fosse.

See, the thing about leggings as a stand-alone garment is that they reveal a bit more feminine mystery than I (and therefore all sensible people everywhere) think strictly appropriate. There are certain nooks and crannies that –unless you happen to be a Thomas’ English muffin or that weird butt-implant chick married to Ice T– should be, in the name of decency if not medical science, be shrouded in mystery.

Plus there’s the cellulite issue. I’ve got it. Most big girls do. Now, I don’t stare into the mirror above my bed and wail into the lonesome darkness about it, but I’m not especially keen to show the general public exactly how closely the back of my thighs resemble the latest topographical relief map of northern Scotland.

To review: Don’t take fashion advice from a woman whose lasting contribution to society was the spider lash and remember that no matter how ultrafab you truly truly are, none of us want to see your English muffin at the grocery store.


  1. I would like to add that even if your ass is smooth and firm, and ripe like a peach I still would like you to put some damn pants on…especially in a professional situation. Shame on you.

    Comment by Amanda — January 24, 2008 @ 6:09 pm

  2. Unless said profession is the world’s oldest, I agree with Amanda completely.

    Comment by Susan — January 24, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  3. I whole heartedly agree that there is nary a place in the professional setting for leggings. ever.

    that said, for the casual use of leggings I present my newest discovery:

    Sara Blakely (maker of Spanx) makes wonderful shapewear at a much cheaper price for Target. And the footless version smoothes out the cellulite and is also opaque enough to be worn when a big girl might consider wearing less flattering leggings. (however one should keep in mind that it is still entirely necessary to make sure that what is worn with the leggings covers the entire booty region and preferably most of the thigh region as well.)

    anyway, i’m pumped about it.

    Comment by Brittany — January 24, 2008 @ 8:01 pm

  4. Me, too!

    What’s flattering to particular individuals aside, the appropriateness of a garment is not determined by the size of the body within it. What’s tacky for one is tacky for all.

    The question here isn’t one of size and/or cellulite, but whether it’s proper or tasteful or generally nice for any grown-up lady to display her contours in quite so much detail when not actually at the gym or on the beach. And it just isn’t.

    Leggings are icky in general and horrifying in any professional setting. (Though marginally less ghastly with a backside-covering big shirt than with a short little top that leaves nothing unrevealed. I mean, ew.)

    Comment by Bridey — January 24, 2008 @ 8:03 pm

  5. This link shows an entirely appropriate use of leggings. All tunics/dresses with leggings should be mid thigh or longer. The look is definitely casual, not, professional. If your work place is casual this would do, if a suit is your normal business wear, then replace the leggings with the tights and wear an appropiate length skirt…

    Comment by Jennie — January 24, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

  6. Ugh. Leggings are dancewear. If you are not a dancer, then leggings are not for you. They are not cute. They are almost never flattering. They are not a substitute for real pants, despite what Lindsay Lohan would have you believe.

    Comment by caitlin — January 24, 2008 @ 8:59 pm

  7. unless you happen to be a Thomas’ English muffin or that weird butt-implant chick married to Ice T

    I laughed so hard at this that I spilled a load of coffee in the YUHJNM-key vicinity. Thank you!

    Comment by Tk — January 25, 2008 @ 11:04 am

  8. Leggings are what I wear under my ski pants while attempting to look good on the ski slope or over my tights in the dance studio on extra cold days. Those are the only time syou’ll find me shimmying into a pair of leggings. No exceptions.

    Comment by Never teh Bride — January 25, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  9. You wouldn’t catch me dead in leggings. Leggings are for pre-teens and teenagers (if even them). I’m smart enough not to saunter about in thin, tight spandex. Never flattering no matter what sort of figure you rock (cellulite or not).

    Comment by Angel — January 25, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  10. As a survivor of the 80’s, or as I recall them, The Stirrup Pants Years, I can only hope that your timely warning will save others from the years of scarring and unflattering photos that must otherwise end in therapy-requiring humiliation.

    Comment by Crinklish — January 25, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

  11. I think worn properly leggings are great for us larger girls. Maybe it’s because they are really popular in Europe right now that I am really loving them. I think the cropped ones look great with dresses that are a little short for example.

    Comment by Valerie — January 25, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

  12. I think leggings can be tastefully incorporated into a casual wardrobe. I like to show off my rather slim legs (and distract from my rather not-slip belly) but it’s cold where I live, and tights don’t always cut the mustard. The look that Jennie presented above is tasteful and functional.

    Comment by Leah — January 25, 2008 @ 3:43 pm

  13. I agree with those who say the keys are a) the understanding that leggings are an entirely CASUAL piece of clothing and b) correct choice of proportion when picking tops/dresses to wear with them. They have no place in a business setting, but are perfectly appropriate when worn with a very long top or very short dress for, say, a picnic or a trip to the mall or when lounging around the house.

    They can also be useful as Leah and NtB point out in situations where an extra layer of fabric can make the difference between comfort and hypothermia but too much extra bulk would not be superfantastic.

    Don’t wear them anywhere formality is important, and don’t wear them with short tops. Beyond that, it’s a matter of figure and personal taste.

    Comment by Twistie — January 25, 2008 @ 4:46 pm

  14. Oh, Crinklish, I shudder with you at remembering stirrup pants! Alas, their prevalence bled over into the 90s in a very wrong way.

    When I worked with my Mum a travel agent in the 90s, she and I would often go to travel trade shows together. If the event was in Seattle, most of the agents were very professionally dressed, lots of cute little suits. But if the event were anywhere south of Seattle, and in Tacoma particularly, oh, holy hell! We used to play a little game called “Count the Stirrup Pants”. *eyeroll*

    There was also a woman who worked as a paralegal in the law office in our building whose entire work wardrobe consisted of black stirrup pants worn with black high-heeled pumps, with satiny big shirts with shoulder pads on top. Every. Damn. Day. And her stirrup pants had gotten to that stage where they’d been washed so often, they’d taken on that greenish tinge that elderly black knit garments often have. Yeah, classy. :-/ At least she didn’t wear sandals.

    Comment by Jeanine aka MsChilePepper — January 27, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  15. Leggings are fine as pants because they are comfortable. It’s time that we ALL wear leggings. Get over the fashionista and body image constraints and just wear them. You know you want to, you know they’ll be more comfortable than the constrictive clothes you wear now, that don’t give you the freedom that you want. Go for it. Enjoy leggings and wear them. Choose a well made pair – not with cotton fibers that bag out over time but a high tech fiber that retains its shape. Go for the comfort and support. Leggings that go to the ankle have a greater positive visual aesthetic than capri style that chop the leg. Plus the full length leggings support you from your ankle to your waist and give you an energetic lift. Laugh, Live, Love & Enjoy! Check out

    Comment by RSM — February 24, 2008 @ 10:41 pm

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