I hate to bring this up.  But I've noticed that the line between leggings and pants is becoming blurry.  I mean YES:  college-age girls have been strutting around in their leggings and Uggs and not much else for years.  But I'm starting to see…uh, others (*cough* me *cough*) blurring the line between leggings and pants.


(wearing:  faux-leather leggings, Mike's v-neck sweater, cozy sweater-poncho – similar on crazy sale, old plaid scarf – similar,  target mittens – similar, DV Java booties, Makr Farm Rucksack)  


My bum, you guys.  Is right there.  Is this OK?  IDK.



I have a sliver of black sweater juuust barely covering the bum but I think…I think I'm OK with it.  It's the faux-leather, Mamas!.  I tend to play loosey-goosey with leggings-as-pants when wearing faux-leather leggings.  They are a little bit thicker than regular leggings?

Ok – I'm fooling myself.  They are NOT.  They just look, uh, more substantial. Or something.

But IN MY DEFENSE (Do I need a defense?) – I walked into J.Crew the other day and EVERY SINGLE ONE of the salesgirls were wearing these pants:


J.Crew Pixie Pant, $88

"OMG so comfortable!!" one said.  "OMG I wear them EVERY DAY" said another. "Buy a size smaller – they'll stretch out perfectly and form to your curves!" said the third.


But that was the day I was (inexplicably) shopping with Pax.  Which, as you can imagine, is less shopping and more justpleasequickreturnthisNOWI'msorryinadvanceforthedamagetoyourstackofsweaters.  This was obvsiously NOT my day to be trying anything on. 

But I'm intrigued, you know?  While the overall fit (regardless of the back zip) is mostly legging, the fabric of the Pixie Pant is made from a much thicker material than the traditional legging.  Which…makes them pants?  Yes?

Curious if anyone else had observed this leggings-as-pants thing, I called Cam.  But I tricked her.  Not wanting to influence her in any way, I just (sneakily) asked if she would, pretty please, send over a pic of her latest, most-worn leggings outfit.  Here's what Cam sent (this was back in December, hence the greenery):

Leggins 2

BAM.  LEGGINGS AS PANTS.   I can see a hint of side-bum.

Leggins 3


But now I can't tell.  That sweater is the most perfectly ambiguous length for- WAIT A MINUTE!  CAM!  Is that sweater from ASOS?  Like…this one, specifically?  Because I also bought it but had to return the darn thing because it hung TO MY KNEES.  MY KNEES, CAM!  

Great.  Now we can all picture me standing next to Cam, with the top of my head coming up to her shoulder.  Like some faux-leather legginged little elf.  Sigh.

Soooo…leggings as pants?  Yes?  No?  A gray area, or have I totally lost my mind?



ps.  As usual, a huge thank-you to Cam for playing along.  You can see more Cam at her blog, Life in Modification…and FYI:  she made her own necklace.  Want to make one?  She has a similar DIY here.



  1. Well I think they are fine “as pants”. How is it different from skinny jeans?…if the material is the same thickness…what would be the difference…you rocked the look! I think confidence in having a “tiny” butt helps too…:)

  2. I feel like my bum should be covered, but then sometimes, I think my bum is better than some of those college girl. Maybe I just don’t want anyone to say “OMG that mom should not be wearing that”!

  3. Even more important than covering the booty is covering the . . . Um, camel toe. Actually, that’s a good marker. If it gives you a camel toe, it’s leggings (or way-too-tight pants). Showing your crotch in something that tight and thin is (clutching my pearls now and taking on a proper lady voice) . . . Indecent! Oh my!

  4. I’m ok with leggings as pants when my bum is covered. Which is difficult at 5’10”, but I’ve managed to find some cute tunic length tops this year. They are my go to outfit now!

  5. I’m very curious to read responses. I’ve been noticing the same blur. Then Lands End (*Lands End*, people) came out with the ponte knit slim pants that style with regular shirts, have back welts, but are pull on. I’m so confused.
    Then there’s the question of whether it’s only, ahem, slim figures that are allowed to consider leggings as pants.

  6. I definitely rock the “leggings as pants” look more often then I care to admit. I have small kids & I’m constantly on the floor playing with them. Leggings are just so…comfortable! I am pretty picky with the quality of the legging. I found some awesome warm, thick ones at Nordstrom that are perfect for winter. I also bought some “jeggings” to kind of feel more ok about the look. My jeggings are a ponte knit pant, but cut like jeans (zipper, pockets, etc). But I’m 100% with you, my bum MUST be covered!

  7. For me, if you can discern individual butt-cheeks, I prefer a top that covers it. Also, if you have any sort of camel toe or visible underwear, just no. I’ve seen a couple people in SHORT tops with leggings-as-pants and the leggings were not as opaque as the wearer had probably (hopefully?) assumed. Oh, and not to the office. I knew a girl who wore stirrup-pants-as-pants to an interview (as a legal receptionist!!!), and wondered why she didn’t get the job.
    Otherwise – if the context is casual, the pant/legging/whatever is thick enough to cover the bits it definitely ought to cover, and it fits you, and you have the body to pull it off, have at it.

  8. I think they’re great with two simple rules:
    1) The shirt HAS to cover the bum.
    2) They HAVE to be thick enough – no skin shining through in the sunlight.

  9. For me, the distinction is whether or not the pants/leggings are tight enough to make unattractive wrinkles across the backs of my post-three-babies, size 8 thighs. I really like my bum, but I hate my jiggly thighs, so whatever I wear has to be flattering, not like a sausage casing. I have a few pairs of leggings that I like, but they make me feel naked unless I’m covered up. My husband assures me that they look ok (he says “hot,” actually), but maybe I’m too old-fashioned to be comfortable unless I can’t feel the wind on my legs.

  10. Aw Shana…you have the cutest bod ever so rock those leggings! Everything you throw together always looks fabulous…those of us with not-so-cute derrieres had better wear a bit longer of a top.

  11. Hey, you’re never too old for collages!
    I think I’m like most other commenters-the lighterweight, more sheer, and tighter around your undies a pair of leggings/pants/bottoms are, the longer the top needs to be. I think it does depend on your body type too-if the body type is awesome, like you and Cam, it’s less essential. Personally I wear tunics with skinny jegging type pants and that’s probably what I’d wear with pleather leggings, and I wear short dresses (the ones I used to be able to wear on their own when I didn’t have to bend over and pick up babies and Legos constantly! And some shorter than that!) with leggings.

  12. LANP. Leggings Are Not Pants. The end.
    However…. The sweaters you show, cover enough bum for your figure. The bigger-butt-and-thigh gal like me could not get away with that. So that’s a slight exception to the LANP rule. Dress for your figure. Second rule to quasi-break concerns the thickness of the legging. The thicker, the more pant-like.

  13. Ill wear jeggings as pants but my bum is to be covered in leggings. Isn’t the whole point of leggings comfort? I’m not comfortable worrying about underwear lines or sheerness or being indecent. I’m a mother of a 3yr old & a teacher-I’ve got enough to worry about.

  14. Legging – OK, but, the butt must be covered. Legging should never be worn with a short/waist-length sweater or top, especially if one is over the age of 10. When a body part in movement looks like two possums wrestling in a tow-sack, it is not a pretty sight and the general public should not be subjected to it.

  15. I might have to order that sweater on Cam, because I have the darnedest time finding long enough sweaters to pull off that look (I’m 5’8″ with a longer torso). It always looks cute on petite ladies, but when I try it, my bum is barely covered. Because I think that’s the key to pulling off leggings as pants – cover your bum! I wear leggings with tunics and short dresses (which again, easier to find short dresses than long enough tunics because of that long torso).

  16. I think they should cover the butt too (both the picture of you and the one of Cam pass the test in my book), and they need to be thick enough. I bought a pair of fleece lined leggings, and when I put them on, they were basically tights. I was pretty sure I could see some skin through them. Therefore, they belong under dresses, not under shirts.
    My tiny string bean 2-year-old is one of the only people I know who can come close to pulling off the shorter shirt with leggings look. And that’s pretty much only because I let her choose her own clothes.

  17. Oh I thought leggings as pants was a thing? As long as the leggings are hot and the mom is a milf. Got those two covered;). So guess I’ve been acting like I rock em anyways and haven’t gotten any funny looks. Lol. You totally rock it Shana! And now that mom- hood is officially cool I fully intend on rocking the faux leather leggings as pants until otherwise notified. Xo!

  18. I Jud found your blot recently (over Christmas break) and it has really inspired me to try to dress myself everyday! I’m a preschool teacher and mommy of 2 little me-and I pretty much wear leggings or jeggings every single day …instead of my old yoga pants or sweats. I think its totally cute! As long as they aren’t see through!

  19. What about the ponte pants that Ann Taylor sells that fit like leggings and they style with regular length blazers and such? How can that be office appropriate? Maybe if you’re the size 2 of the model, then it’s not a big deal. But they do only show the outfits from the front. I agree with everyone else, but i think theres a lot of leggings as pants going on.

  20. So I am petite and often wear leggings as pants but only if I’m wearing a longer shirt or sweater. I have a pair of faux leather leggings and LOVE them! However, I’ve only worn them at night. Am I being too straight laced feeling like they’re best worn in the evening??

  21. Wait, there’s a chance that leggings AREN’T pants?? Uh oh, I’m in trouble. But no, I’m pretty much with everyone else – I like my butt to be covered (or 95% covered) and then I’m totally cool with them as pants. I actually don’t really wear them as anything BUT pants. And when I’m spending most of my day on the floor with two little ones? They’re just so comfortable.

  22. I think it’s cool as long as your butt (and front buns, as my neighbor’s daughter calls it) is covered and the material is thick enough that they aren’t translucent in any way. I’ve been known to rock leggings as pants with long sweaters and tunics and tall-ish boots. The lowest I’ve gone are Frye Engineers… but the looked you wore so well is making me think about adding my ankle boots into the mix.
    I think another point is that you need to look put together in almost every other aspect of your ensemble. Too many people I see wearing leggings as pants look like a hot mess. Cute boots, hair done (even if it’s in a pony tail), and accessories go a long way toward making it feel more like pants. Like you at least thought it out before putting it on.

  23. I can do the really skinny thin jeans, but this ass can’t be contained by a thin layer of knit, or faux leather….and probably never will…. Even with a very long sweater/tunic. They never make it out the door. Which is Ok with me. Plenty of other cute pant options out there.

  24. I have been shouting this from the rooftop for years now, and it is one thing on which I shall never budge: Leggings are NOT pants. Ever. They should be treated as tights at all times–aka: cover thy buttocks and lady bits! The only time it is acceptable to see them in any other incarnation is in some workout capacity (yoga, dance class, etc.) And I would go so far as to say that the barely covered tush is anything but mom-friendly (for most of us mamas with some junk in the trunk), as said junk will inevitably be revealed at the first lunge for crawling baby/toddling toddler/running preschooler. It’s a no go for me. Incidentally, I own a pair of pants quite similar to the J. Crew Pixie Pant. My @ss is always covered in those too. I say if you’re past the first decade of life, stay classy mamas, and leave something to the imagination! 😉

  25. Leggings are absolutely NOT pants. As such, special consideration must be made for what one wears with them – the buns, front and back, MUST be covered. I personally adhere to the “fingertip length” rule of my Catholic grade school years when judging if a top/sweater is an appropriate length and treat them more like thick, cozy tights.

  26. Leggings are NOT pants! I am trying to teach my 4-year-old this very thing. If you can see the butt cheeks (or *ahem* the camel-toe *cough*), they are leggings and you need to wear a tunic/dress/etc. to cover your bum.
    It’s especially tough on my little girl, because leggings are the only “pants” she finds comfortable. So there’s a lot of skirt-wearing around here… and most skirts in her size are still the attached-panty type (to keep girls decent & keep them from riding up too far) – so once you have undies and leggings on, that becomes 3-4 layers in the crotch! Yikes.

  27. I say it depends on where you are going. I would not wear leggings as pants to my MIL’s or to church. But, my husband thinks it is hot so wearing them around him is fun. Besides why I am doing 800 reps at Body Pump if I can’t show the arse in leggings? Thanks for bringing this topic up!

  28. I think some people are confusing leggings with tights, from what I see! And tights are not pants! And leggings mean the butt should be covered. (I’ll date myself and say back in the day in college, a long flannel or long sweater and leggings, true leggings, were perfectly acceptable. But that was the 90s. And college.)

  29. And I just bought that sweater. I had a $20 credit burning a whole in my pocket, so I only spent $3.75. Nice!
    I just might wear it with leggings….as long as it covers my butt!

  30. I hope the pixie are pants. Because they are the best things ever. Except for the factory ponte pants which are the same pants but cheaper and with a side zip.
    Unlike skinny jeans, the legging pants don’t slide off my butt when I sit down.

  31. I think the material makes all the difference. My husband (not one to usually comment on my attire), pretty much asked me not to wear my Target knit leggings as pants. He thought it looked “too revealing for out”. I can see his point, I do think the line is a thin one. My skinny jeans, however, he loves. You’re good if the material is thick enough that you don’t have to worry about whether or not your bum is covered, because honestly, if you are chasing kids around or carrying them, how much of the time is your bum actually covered by that sweater? My kids can somehow manage to expose my jelly belly, even if the tunic/dress/sweater goes to mid-thigh!
    Love the blog, btw! From another engineer-turned-mom who loves clothes! I’ve been moping about my post-mom body (who am I kidding? I moped pre-kids too) for 5 years before I found your blog and cried in laughter and exultation of the camaraderie. Now, even though I am trying to lose some weight before getting another baby (I have 3 and can’t wait for more!), I have finally figured out my personal style and how to dress my real body with confidence. Love love love!

  32. Love this post…I’ve been wondering about this. Any recommendations on skinny black pants that are more-appropriate than leggings? I have a pair that I love, but they are fading. I’m hearing positive things about the J Crew pants, but I can’t spend $88 on one pair!

  33. I was wondering this myself, as I’ve been rocking all around town in my Gap jeggings, but find myself strangely unwilling to wear them to school drop off/pick up. Yeah, it’s because I think they may be borderline inappropriate. Don’t care, have five pairs. Yes, this was to say that the Gap legging jeans are great and also the Levi’s legging jeans (which I think Shauna also wears) are also great. When appropriate 😉

  34. Um. My comment disappeared…so here I go again.. (sorry if this ends up redundant)…
    I had no idea you were still going to post this…thanks! 🙂 It was a lovely surprise to see my stats this morning ;)…all thanks to yoooou, S.
    HA and the comment about the sweater being down to your knees…your knees! If we hung out in for real life and not just in blog life, i’d feel like a giant. The thought is still cracking me up. Maybe we should meet-up sometime just to document the massive height difference with a picture. ;). Ooooh, but the grass is always greener….
    Cheers, friend.

  35. I have SEVERAL things to cover. Let’s just go through the list:
    1) First – WHY have I not been reading this blog? Well, that is corrected RIGHT FRIGGING NOW.
    2) I love love love your outfit, and am totally ripping it off. I mean that figuratively – not literally.
    3) I have had the SAME dilemna, with almost exactly those same leggings you’re wearing, every single time I put them on. But dammit – THEY ARE COMFORTABLE!!!! My justification is that I have to have something that covers my ass over them. If not, as others have said before me – there could possibly be a bit of camel toe involved, and that CANNOT happen. Perhaps the motto when wearing leggings is: If you see Camel Toe, Just Say No.
    4) Did I just coin a new phrase? I think I did.
    5) I feel like this might be the appropriate place to admit that in high school, I rocked a pair of WHITE spandex leggings that had a weird graphic print all over them, kind of like streets on a map, but not. And I wore them with a short sweatshirt. And sometimes I added a red bandanna a la Bret Michaels when Poison FIRST came out. OH THE HUMANITY.
    6)To recap, in slightly longer version, leggings, WITH long sweater/tunic/jacket/etc. are okay. White Leggings with short sweatshirts and bandanas ARE NOT.

  36. Ummm….I’m feeling you on the leggings thing. Just last week I asked my babysitter, who graduated from fashion school in December, what was her favorite brand of jeans because I desperately needed a new pair. She responded with….”Uhh, I don’t think I own a pair of jeans. I only wear leggings. “ Sister say WHAT?!?!
    I’ve also heard that American Apparel has very comfortable leggings with some “substance.”

  37. If you refuse to wear a thong (like me) then cover up your bum in leggings unless they are so thick you don’t see panty lines! the American Apparel winter leggings are so thick- and cheap- try those!

  38. after reading all the comments I’ve learned that I was completely wrong is my decision that leggings ARE pants. I’ve been so loosey goosey with it that I’ve rocked superthick tights as leggings, so consider this my intervention. (it was only once!)
    I always felt that leggings were ok with anything that comes at least 1/2 way down the butt (and no crotch shots). As I write this I realize that I’m apparently some kind of exhibitionist though!!
    PS – my kid just pointed at the picture of you and said, “That’s my mom!” I’ll take this lesson in leggings and try to do you justice!

  39. I agree with all of the comments that they need to be thick to wear them as pants. If you bend over and the fabric becomes sheer, that is a no go. That being said, I’m looking for some thick leggings that I could wear as pants. Any suggestions?

  40. I’ve seen it all as a university professor, but by far the worst infraction I’ve seen in this area was a girl who was wearing control top footless tights as pants (!!) with a drapey, but normal-length shirt (which was also sheer). I didn’t say anything but wonder if I should have.

  41. This is so timely! I was in the mall on Friday afternoon and realized I was the only one under thirty not wearing leggings…. IN THE ENTIRE MALL! And I felt so ooooooold. I don’t mind if a little bit of behind shows (unless the leggings are see through…I’ve seen some things in Wal-mart man)but I do wish folks would keep their crotches covered.

  42. Pockets…pockets are totally the deciding factor. If there are pockets on the bum you’re good to go, if not. Keep those puppies under wraps, or under sweaters…whatever floats your boat. In the words of American Apparel: “…These tights are not pants.”

  43. Heh. I’ve always been strictly “leggings are not pants” but now that I’m starting my third trimester…yeah, I’m wearing ’em. With a long cardigan that probably doesn’t cover my ass or my…what are commenters calling them–my lady bits?! But how the hell would I know? It’s not like I can see back there OR down there at this point. I’m just going with it. And enjoying the breeze 😀

  44. I’ll be honest, I just turned 30, but I like to think in my heart I’m still 25, either way since having my daughter I personally wouldn’t be caught dead in leggings or even my beloved pixie pants without my shirt/sweater being long enough to cover MOST of my bum. This is largely due in part to not loving the way my hips look in really tight pants that show off everything, I like to think I have a pretty good body, but I know my build and I unfortunately don’t have a model’s stick straight build so to me it looks awkward, but I say if you feel comfortable than who the heck cares 🙂 rock em’!

  45. As long as everything is covered… I am all for it. I also wear black tights just incase the leggings I have noted as not see through are a lot more see through once I’m out.

  46. I would never wear them as pants myself, but then again I’ve found time and time again that I’m out of date on these things just from reading your blog! So you tell me 🙂

  47. I would never wear them as pants myself, but then again I’ve found time and time again that I’m out of date on these things just from reading your blog! So you tell me 🙂

  48. My take is that *thick* leggings can be worn as pants with a long-ish top. One that generally covers your bum but might be marginal, like the one you’re wearing in the pic.
    Wearing leggings with a hip length top, one that doesn’t even pretend to cover your bum, is a no.
    My trick is to wear a pair of fairly opaque tights under leggings if I’m concerned about possible sheer-ness (that’s a word now, really!). The tights make the leggings totally opaque and smooth out some stuff. But still the mostly-cover-the-bum rule applies.
    I haven’t seen the J Crew pants in person but they look like a much more pant-like material than any leggings I’ve seen. I need to loose my Christmas 5 pounds before I spend $90 on form-fitting pants, though!

  49. Oh, another rule – lots of clothes on top. Big sweater, or cardigan, and scarf, just volume on the top half. A tight shirt, even if it’s long, and leggings can look very tacky.

  50. I’m a couple days late on this train but here’s my opinion – knit leggings should only be worn if the whole bum is covered up and at least a few inches under the bum – this ensures no frontal exposure (shudder) and that when you bend over to scoop up your kids/tie your shoe, etc. the bum is still covered. Now I do think that leather leggings and ponte pants can show a bit more than regular leggings, but still the bum should be covered as Shana’s is. I wear leggings out once in a blue moon but always with a long loose top and boots – i think if there’s too much volume on top and then just leggings and little flats or sandals that it’s too top heavy, and I feel like boots and a little more substance to the bottom half but still keep it sleek.

  51. Leggings as pants sounds like another check-mark in the growing list of confusing clothing items. These days sun dresses can be worn in winter, boots in the summer, tunics are dresses, dresses are tunics, jeans can be leggins, leggings can be pants, and every top needs to be layered.
    Sigh. I miss the 90’s when a pair of plain jeans, a v-neck, and Birks constituted a complete outfit.

  52. Ha! Totally agree with the Buns of Steel rule (and Thighs of Steel, too, for that matter). If your top isn’t long enough but you still want that streamlined look, then switch to skinny jeans. (That’s my $.02 anyway.)

  53. Yes, yes, yes!! It’s not just the bum it’s the thunder thighs! (Said as the not so proud owner of a pair) I’m inclined to answer no but I think if I had S’s legs I’d never wear pants so..,,

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