Leggings as Pants: You Can Do It!

All day long


Pants are confusing. Dictionary.com defines pants as “trousers.” Wiktionary defines them as “an outer garment worn by men and women that covers the body from the waist downwards, covering each leg separately, usually as far as the ankles.” Google tells me that if you say “pants,” British people will think you mean undies. So what even are pants, really?

Who cares. This ambiguity allows for flexibility and fun retorts whenever anyone tries to tell you that leggings — athletic and otherwise — aren’t pants! Yet there seems to be some fog surrounding who can take advantage of pants’ vague definitions. (Answer: everyone can.)

Katie Sturino saw more than one post on here about wearing leggings as pants, like the one about Chanel’s kneecaps and the time Leandra couldn’t stop wearing leggings as pants. She said to me, “Quick q: Can I do the leggings-as-pants thing?”

And I said to her, “Do you have a PULSE?”


ASOS Curve skirt suit, River Island coat, H&M T-shirt, Outdoor Voices leggings, Nike men’s Cortez sneakers, Yeah Bunny socks

So anyway, you know where this is going: on a journey to show that anyone can wear leggings as pants. All it takes is the willingness to withstand at least one comment like, “Did you forget to get changed all the way after the gym?” Like no, obviously not, asshole. That would be super unhealthy for the hoo-ha. Except that in outfit number one, I took the gym thing and went for a run. Leggings + sneakers + a tee will make your skirt suit less Queen of England-y. (Not that the Queen of England isn’t my daily source of inspiration.)


Marina Rinaldi jacket, J.Crew men’s half-zip sweater, Outdoor Voices leggings, Saint Laurent men’s boots, ASOS striped shirt, Dolce & Gabbana sunglassesManu Atelier bag (in slideshow)

If you’re looking at your leggings like, “WTF YOU ARE SO TIGHT HOW DO I DRESS AROUND YOU,” pretend they are jeans. That is literally it. (And then the good thing is that because they are not jeans, they’re inherently more interesting and your outfit gets that special little weird zing that so many of us crave.)


Tory Sport sweater, Eloquii jacket, Outdoor Voices leggings, Ariat men’s cowboy boots, Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses (in slideshow)

With leggings, you eliminate expectations. “Proper pants” could have made this look a little too equestrian. (No such thing in my book but whatever. Different pots for different lids.) Turtleneck sweaters are always a good choice when it’s not sweat weather out, and athletic leggings balance out the kitsch of cowboy boots.

Got it? Get stretching!

Check out Katie Sturino’s website The 12ish Style and follow her on Instagram @The12ishStyle. Photos by Nicole Cohen; follow her on Instagram @sketchfortytwo.

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  • Suzan

    Love the print t-shirt + check suit + leopard coat combo in the first look! And I have to say that the leggings work well with that look. But overall… nope, I definitely don’t ‘got it’!
    I can sometimes dig it in a layered look (although I’ve never felt like I made something similar work on myself), but I really can’t stand the legging on itself. It’s just too… empty or something around the crotch/hip area, for me it feels like the balance is off. I think I’m gonna pass on this trend.

    • Suzan

      Oof! Just got back out of a Katie Sturino rabbithole here on the MR site (clicked from this article to article to article almost 3 years back). Love how you guys collaborate and she is gorgeous!

      • Amelia Diamond

        she’s a babe!

    • Amelia Diamond

      passing is all part of the freedom of the dress!

      • Suzan

        Phew, luckily it is! I do appreciate looking at photos/articles with styles/styling/trends even if I wouldn’t participate in em. No hate from me! (Just wanted to make that clear :))

  • LJ

    “So what even are pants, really?
    Who cares.” – BEST QUOTE

  • Perry


  • Laura

    KATIE STURINO IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!! That number 3 pic is so freaking great. ROCK ON LADY!

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  • Sophie

    is it bad to not change after the gym? and why?

    • Amelia Diamond

      Largely a personal hygiene choice, otherwise I abide by the “don’t sit around all day in a wet bathing suit” mentality when it comes to anything that covers your crotch

  • Junglesiren

    Cute sweaters, especially. And the men’s J. Crew sweater is a cute number too.

  • Ala Al-Amead

    The one fashion trend I cannot get behind!

  • Kristie

    Manrepeller is my main source of news so I feel very shady saying this, but every outdoor leggings post brings out my inner regina george: “stop trying to make it happen, it’s never gonna happen.” Prove me wrong, but my conviction to abstain from this trend grows with every leggings article (though I loved everything else about these looks). For the record I once wore a button up as a skirt to work because you guys said I could so…..yeah. Please don’t hate me!

  • Aydan

    Katie, you always look so damn good girl!!

  • Marguerite R

    OV leggings are key.

  • Meg S

    No one at work realizes I basically wear leggings every day. Yes they’re thick leggings, but leggings are leggings. I pair them with dresses, tunics, and oversized sweaters. I have two pairs of Legit Pants™ that I wear to work. No one has commented so either they don’t notice or they don’t care. It’s definitely against the Dress Code™ that some guy who doesn’t even work in our building (or know anything about women’s clothes) thought up and that everyone promptly disregarded.