The blurring of boundaries between work and private life has accelerated the breakdown of gendered norms of dress. As a cyclist, I put on leggings for convenience and then discovered how easy they are to wear. I always have pants for the office, but on days when I work from home, I opt for leggings. At first I wore my bike helmet so I could “get a pass” to wear leggings as a man, but eventually I stopped caring. Has the same transition from sports to everyday life that happened for women started to happen for men? — Matthew, Bangalore, India, and Sheffield, England
There is a real name for the garment you are talking about: meggings! It’s a neologism that would suggest that if men’s leggings don’t exist yet, they will. After all, if something is present enough in our lives to deserve its own end, it has probably reached or is about to reach critical mass.
It may be time. Men first adopted tights, or tights-like clothing, in the 15th century, long before women. Henry VIII of England was often depicted in his stockings, as was Louis XVI of France. It wasn’t until the 1800s that they fell out of favor, being replaced by tailored trousers. But they’ve been coming back for a while now as part of a man’s sports wardrobe, whether it’s for cyclists like you, yogis, runners or basketball players.
(Of course, some bands – rock stars, superheroes – never gave up on them.)
Now the question is not so much can men wear leggings like How? ‘Or’ What should men wear leggings.
The general rule, said Warren Alfie Baker, the stylist who helped make Andrew Garfield a red carpet star last awards season, and who said he grew up wearing leggings for sports , is that “shorts are always best worn over them as a layering piece, with a T-shirt or tank top. Probably out of modesty.
But as more and more companies spring up to meet the needs of the meggings market – Guy Trebay, our men’s fashion critic, cited companies that add “integrated cups to men’s tights that give you the smoothed contours of a Ken doll” – the shorts can become more and more insignificant. (See, for example, Matador and Kapow, which also offers recycled leggings.)
Indeed, last November, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, a designer who pioneered flowing clothing, showed off meggings with formal jackets in his “Love Parade” collection – although Wall Street, Washington and the most Conservatives are probably not ready for them yet.
For those who want to experiment more, Trebay suggests there might be a potential role model in “influencer Nick Wooster (@nickwooster), who often wears a version of leggings under a skirt. This combo has the double benefit of to provide ease and comfort (ask all the men in the world who regularly dress in sarongs, dhotis, lunghis, boubous, dishdashas or similar flowing garments) and disrupt so-called gender norms.
This way you can have your super skinny stretch comfort pants and cover up a bit too.
Answers to your style questions
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion question, which you can send her anytime via E-mail or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.