Modest Is Most Certainly Hottest, Or, 7 Reasons Not To Wear Leggings As Pants

(Necessary disclaimer: let me suffice by saying that I don’t expect a lot of people to agree with this standing, but I could rant about this issue for HOURS, so I thought a post was necessary.)

If you attend a university, or perhaps go to a public high school, you’ve all seen this sight before. Beautiful girl walking down the sidewalk/hallway/up the stairs. Hair perfectly coiffed or perhaps up in a messy bun. Cute winter coat, backpack, scarf, sweater visible, and on the bottom half? Leggings.

If you’re me, you gasp. Why? Because…



There, I said it. Now, some of you may disagree with me or think I’m being ridiculous, citing the often-heard rebuttals when I bring up the leggings-are-not-pants-issue.

“But they cover all the skin on my legs!”

“They are pant-shaped!”

“I lost all the rest of my pants!”

“My dog ate my common sense!”

And to all of that I say phooey. Leggings are not pants, nor should they ever be employed as such. There are many reasons as to why this is the case, so let me lay them out for you.

7 Reasons Not To Wear Leggings As Pants

1. Leggings were originally invented as an extra layer of warmth, originating in the 15th and 16th centuries. The “tights” that Renaissance men wore were actually more like leggings – no one had invented nylon or lycra by then, so they were made mostly of cotton and wool. So if you wear them, you are going beyond “vintage” to “eww, men use to wear these over 400 years ago.” Not cool.

2. Leggings have about the same amount of fabric as a pair of tights. Tights were manufactured to be worn under things like skirts, dresses, etc. Therefore, leggings were invented to wear with something else, and if you wear them solo, you aren’t using them properly.

3. Leggings are not warm. I hardly go a day in the winter without wearing my CuddleDuds (warm version of leggings) underneath my jeans. Jeans alone simply aren’t warm enough for me. Logically, then, every girl who wears leggings as pants either has a severe nerve disorder in her legs which makes her impervious to the wind, snow, and sleet, or she just doesn’t want to admit that they aren’t warm. THEY ARE NOT WARM. I have worn them. I can attest to this. They are simply not warm enough to wear as pants, no matter where you live, but especially in Nebraska where the average low temperature is 14° – and that’s without wind chill.

4. Leggings were what your mom made you wear when you were 5. You might want to be “hipster” and bring back styles from your youth, but leggings are not ones that should be ever brought back. I remember having a horrible pink pair that had little yellow flowers in swirl patterns on them that my mother made me wear under every dress I ever wore out of the house, and I’ve been forever scarred by it. For something to be hipster/vintage, it’s gotta be at least 25 years old. Therefore, your leggings just aren’t cool enough to make that cutoff – plus I’m sure you have some emotional baggage from that time as it is, don’t you?

5. Leggings are not flattering on any body shape. I feel this is the most controversial reason of my 7 reasons, but trust me on this – it’s true. From a girl’s perspective, leggings are simply not flattering, no matter your body shape or size (I can’t say anything about the guy perspective, but I have a guess that they agree). If you’re tall, skinny, and have the metabolism of an NFL player, leggings make you look like a giraffe. They elongate your legs to the point of exponential increase, and soon enough all you are is leg (and not in a good way). If you’re normal size and height, leggings accentuate every “flaw” you usually try to hide. I put “flaw” in quotes on purpose, because God made our bodies and He doesn’t make mistakes, but every girl is a little self-conscious about her body (thank you, unrealistic media!). If you’re wearing leggings, everyone can see EVERYTHING. Literally everything. If you’re short, leggings make you look like a hobbit-gnome-minstrel. If you don’t know what that is, just look at a short girl wearing leggings. They just aren’t flattering, period.

6. Leggings make it look like you aren’t wearing anything to a guy. This is the most fundamental reason you should not wear leggings as pants. Men are visual creatures, you see. They are as attuned to their eyes and images as women are to emotions and feelings. When they see an image, their brains are simply wired to react to them, most of the time in a lustful or harmful way if the image is provocative. I don’t have time in this post to go into the details about this topic, but there is plenty of research out there available if you’re looking for it. So to a guy, when you wear leggings, you might as well be wearing nothing at all. Yes, I know that the fabric technically covers all of your skin, but that is no excuse. You certainly can’t wear sensible underwear with them, which is certainly attractive and therefore bad. And really? There is nothing left to the imagination. Your legs and rear might be colored black instead of your skin color, but every nook and cranny of them is as visible to a guy as if you were naked.  He can see your curves, and that is provocative stimuli for a man. If you wear leggings, you are (intentionally or not) leading men to lust after you. If you’re doing that on purpose, shame on you! Getting a guy to lust after you is not something you should aspire to. If you want a good husband when you’re older, or wouldn’t want a girl to do that to your brother/cousin/guy friend/boyfriend, then don’t do it to them. If you’re not doing it on purpose, be more conscious from now on, and please, choose pants next time.

7. Jesus doesn’t want you to. No, seriously, He doesn’t. Most of this relates to the previous point, insomuch that Jesus doesn’t want you to lead others to sin if you can help it. This is why He calls women to dress modestly. He loves you unconditionally and wants you and everyone you know to be with Him forever in Heaven. If you are leading men to sin because of the way you dress, that is harmful to both you and the men you affect. And let’s be honest – modest is actually hottest. If you give everything away at the beginning…what’s the fun in that?

I hope you are now more informed as to why leggings are NOT pants. Don’t get me wrong, they are comfy and super helpful in the frigid weather…underneath other pants, though. Stay warm, girls.



50 thoughts on “Modest Is Most Certainly Hottest, Or, 7 Reasons Not To Wear Leggings As Pants

  1. I totally agree!! Thank you for writing about this! I’m at a University, too, and women wearing leggings as pants are everywhere! It makes me cold just seeing them! There’s a really cool video made by some FOCUS leaders at the University of Illinois called Modest is Hottest. It’s all men talking about what they love about modest women! Here’s the link: … at 8:24, a guy mentions leggings not counting as pants. 🙂

  2. This blog is so cool. I am going to read it errr’ day and post-y post it on facebook. (just have to give ya’ll a hard time it’s what I do best)

    But really nice job. I like that this is Marc/BadCatholic-esque from a woman’s perspective. props.

  3. “hobbit-gnome-minstrel” LOL…you bring up some fine points. I love me some leggings, but under a dress or a long top…one that covers your nether-regions. I think that’s key, really. Make sure the top covers your lady bits. Not to mention, it’s pretty darn cold here in the Midwest. If you’re wearing leggings, you’re braver than I, or you’ve found a super-cute cable-knit lengthy sweater, and boots, to look fab in. …maybe chunky socks that come up to meet that sweat..yep, for me, that’s preferable. …:)

  4. As a man, I second that they aren’t flattering. I don’t presume that every women’s clothing choice is made with us in mind but, to whatever extent you care about our opinion, I can assure you that I am not alone in thinking that a woman is much cuter with a nice coat, a scarf and some jeans than with shiny spandex-clad legs.

    On a different note, I’d like to add another reason. Respect. I wouldn’t stroll into class, work or a party clad in a sleeveless shirt and sweatpants… I certainly don’t wear a suit everywhere or anything, but when I go out somewhere, I try not to dress like I’m doing yard work, or laying in bed for a sick day. In public, I feel like I owe the people around me the respect of having put on proper clothes. Wearing leggings as pants seems like a lazy way out of spending the necessary 2 minutes to pull proper clothes out of a drawer.

  5. Very very true – My little sister just turned 12 and we have arguments everyday on why she shouldn’t wear JUST leggings. My mom says she;s just in ‘that’ stage where she wants to go against everything everyone says, but I’ll keep trying to persuade her. Thanks for the useful rebuts!

  6. I wear leggings and I can honestly say that they are warm and flattering, although I do wear them under long sweaters or sweater dresses so that my nether regions are not exposed. I actually prefer them to wearing tights as they are warmer. One thing I believe you failed to mention, is that modesty not only includes not wearing leggings as pants, but also, not wearing pants at all, because as women we should be embracing our femininity and dignity that wearing skirts/dresses brings. A pair of jeans can be just as immodest as wearing leggings as pants, since most jeans outline the female form.

    • And all it takes for a skirt to be immodest is a strong breeze or flight of stairs…also, tell it to the ‘girly’ men of Scotland…

      (I’m all for modest dressing, but the Pants Wars are making me nuts.)

  7. Good post! It’s very difficult to argue with girls about this things. In the last WYD Madrid I’ve had a lot of discussions about girls wearing shorts. What do you think about it?

    • Shorts are difficult…I enjoy them myself. Short shorts are just as bad as parading around in your skivvies…my favorite term for them are “denim underwear,” because that’s about all they cover. My rule is that shorts must reach at least past my outstretched finger tips when I am standing straight up for them to be appropriate, but I am average height. On taller girls, that rule doesn’t always work. I know it is super hard to find shorts that meet this requirement, but in the past couple years boyfriend jeans have been back in style, which are either nice and long or just about right length to meet that rule for me.

      • I struggle SO much with finding shorts I consider long enough! I have extremely long arms and legs but I’m very skinny so it is very hard to find shorts in my size that are long enough that they cover everything!

  8. “From a girl’s perspective, leggings are simply not flattering, no matter your body shape or size (I can’t say anything about the guy perspective, but I have a guess that they agree).”

    No, they don’t, and the guys who do are kidding themselves. Men are known to find them quite flattering on women with an ideal body shape, which is the main reason the women wear them — and also the reason they probably shouldn’t.

    Hey, if you’re gonna come down on this, at least be honest about it. Would women who wear them go that much out of their way to look unattractive? Well, okay … deliberately?

    • You’re right – I wasn’t as clear as I should have been.

      I meant simply that they aren’t flattering to most women except those with a near-perfect body type, or at least not as attractive as the woman may think. Of course women in all shapes and sizes are attractive to men, and seeing more of any woman is attractive, but I think women idealize what they actually look like in leggings, and it’s not as good as they might think.

    • Actually, those of us who are gentlemen, respect women, and agree with post, would also agree that they are unflattering. I don’t want to see a woman’s every shape under their hips because they don’t respect themselves enough to not let everyone see what they look like, covered only by stretchy, tight fabric.

      • What you just said is essentially that women’s bodies are evil, vile, disgusting things, that need to be covered under layer upon layer of fabric and wood and put in a lead-lined box, lest the terrible evil that is a cute butt or a nice figure ever be seen by mortal eyes. What you said is that your disrespect for women is so great that you immediately consider the merest patch of exposed skin or the slightest indication of a womanly figure to be abhorrent and repulsive. Why not go the whole hog and demand that women all just put on Burqas? Although it may not be your intent, it is incredibly misogynistic and is setting the women’s civil rights movement back at least six decades. I’m a Catholic, and this entire post makes me ashamed of my religion.

      • James, we would love to have a further conversation about this if you’d like.
        But suffice it here to say that if I wanted to say that women’s bodies are “evil, vile, disgusting things,” etc. etc., that is what I would have written. I am a woman, and I know the beauty and love that God’s creation is in my very self. Women were the very last things created on Earth – we are certainly special and to be revered, which is exactly why I express the opinions I do in this post. If we are, in fact, the last thing created, the pinnacle of creation, then it stands to reason that we are the most easily, therefore, corrupted. God made us for beauty, not to be viewed as objects for men’s pleasure, which is what leggings tend to do on a woman’s figure. If you have enough fortitude to see a woman in leggings and not lust after her, then you are a very wise and mature man. Please pray for your brothers in Christ who cannot fight off the temptation so easily. God bless!

    • @twocatholicgirls: Two things: One, my comment was co-written and reviewed by a woman. Two, I was actually addressing “guate6” and his comment which did not outright state, yet strongly implied, that the female form is a negative thing, although I see how my comment could be interpreted to be directed at your overall post. I apologize for any confusion that might have led to.

      Apart from that, the Holy See’s official stance on Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve is that it is just that – a story and a clever metaphor for the loss of innocence every human being experiences as they go through puberty, and therefore saying that “women were the very last things created on earth” is both false (according to our beliefs, assuming you do in fact share my Catholic faith) and irrelevant.

  9. Wearing leggings under my pants right now. 🙂 Would never consider wearing them by themselves! Thank you, that is one current style which I absolutely hate!

  10. Personally, I think you’re just being judgmental. I wear leggings as pants because I think it’s super fricken comfortable. Also, I’m pretty sure Jesus would be more concerned with you calling people hobit-gnome-minstrels rather than what I’m wearing. I just don’t see why people have to be so damn judgmental. If you don’t like them, don’t wear them. End of story.

      • I totally agree! I feel that many Christians don’t actually practice what Jesus teaches. Jesus’ teachings are about acceptance especially when it isn’t the norm. This brings up arguments about human sexuality and how Jesus wouldn’t want people making decisions on who they are aloud to love, but I digress. I think people should get busy making the world a better place rather than telling people the are dressing wrong.

  11. What about leggings under tunic-length blouses (meaning, the blouse hits mid-thigh)? Any thoughts on those? What about “Jeggings?”

    • Personally, I am not comfortable with wearing leggings just underneath blouses. I still think that’s a little too revealing for my taste. But if the shirt goes really to mid-thigh, then I think on most women that would be modest. If you’re very tall, probably not. I would recommend to be safe just to stick with dresses and skirts (although I know some of those can be just as short as those blouses.) My rule of thumb is to ask my brother if he thinks it’s too revealing – if he says yes, then it probably is and I shouldn’t wear it.

      Jeggings are in the same category as leggings in my opinion – provided you’re talking about the ones made of stretchy, non-jean material. When companies call jeans that are just super tight, “jeggings,” again that’s probably up to your discretion. If they’re super super tight, they’re probably causing the same effects as leggings, and aren’t as flattering as you might imagine.

  12. Just because I wear leggings doesn’t mean Jesus is angry with me. I am Catholic and I wear leggings, Yes, go ahead gasp and judge me. Jesus doesn’t want you judging people. Only God can judge me. I even wear BIKINIS. OH GOODNESS I MUST BE SATAN. This post disgusts me. Worry about yourself and not girls who enjoy to dress a certain way.

    • Quinn and Tammy, I am not trying to judge you or your choices by posting this. I know the value and dignity you have to make your own choices, because each of us is given free-will to choose whatever we like. I simply post this because I know the harm and degridation it can give a woman to wear immodest clothing, including leggings. I apologize if I came off as judgemental in the post, because that is in no way my place to do. I just know from personal experience that men do not treat women who dress immodestly as well as what they truly deserve. If you would like to have a further conversation about this, feel free to keep commenting – I would love to hear what you have to say.

    • Jamie:
      I urge you to recognize the difference between temporal judgement (which is okay) and eternal judgement (which only God can do).

      I personally like a more modest girl who wears a one-piece bathing suit and perhaps even less…not out of desire to please me but out of vocational chastity and wanting to not be a source of lust, which many girls are (whether they are good looking or not).

      (note: I’m not saying men aren’t guilty of the same…which is why I work at being conscious of this, instead of saying I don’t care). We are called to love, care, and treat others with the same.

    • Hi Jamie and Two Catholic Girls,

      I know I am very late seeing this post (YEARS), but I appreciatively found it for a paper I am writing! I just wanted to share with you that I don’t believe Hannah was judging anyone in this post. Simply warning them and trying to prevent sin. Ya know, I truly admire Hannah for this post because she cares enough about others’ souls to try to help them why something as simple as wardrobe choice can lead to a sin. We live in this world where everyone thinks they need to mind their own business. There is a difference between judging/condemning and trying to lead. For example, your friend who is stealing from a store would you think twice about talking to them about this sinful habit? No. That is not judging. That is being a faithful friend and good Catholic.

      Bravo Hannah, keeping you in my prayers today. 🙂

  13. Loved this post! I am in my early thirties and a mom of 2 girls and even when I dress them in their leggings, their dupas are well covered. In our house… leggings (and jeggings) are alternatives to tights, not alternatives to pants. (In fact, I am sporting my leggings underneath a dress that is a bit too short to wear with bear legs (it comes to the top of my knee when standing and higher when seated… so not comfortable.) I really like your point about men being visual creatures (no offense, guys) and how our style choices can lead to lustful thoughts, whether we intend them to or not. I know that many women do not like to hear that (making it akin to “she asked for me to attack her by the way she dressed,”) but it unfortuneately is true. Keep up the good work, you’ve earned yourselves another follower!

  14. This is an interesting post! I do agree with your overall point, though I’m not so sure about some of the individual remarks that you make.

    For example: “You certainly can’t wear sensible underwear with them, which is certainly attractive and therefore bad.” Are you saying attractive underwear is bad?? I’m confused on this one. Also, I don’t think you can really make a statement about practical underwear… I am perfectly comfortable in the underwear to which you’re referring. 🙂 But I do agree that if you see a girl in leggings and there are NO pantylines — you KNOW what kind of underwear she’s wearing, and that’s NOT a good thing. You shouldn’t be able to tell!

    Thanks for this post. :-))

  15. This was hilarious! I go to school in a traditionally male-dominated subject and after a couple of years the guys seem to lose every filter they ever had with me. And let me tell you, I have been told by at least 5 separate guys that they absolutely LOVE the fact that leggings are in style because it lets them pretty much look at naked women every single day. Those were the exact words. So next time you walk around in leggings thinking you look so hot – the only reason guys are looking is because, to them, you’re essentially naked.

  16. Lol, great post. I wear leggings as an alternative to my nightgown. They’re the only things that cover my legs AND my enormous pregnant stomach comfortably (and aren’t shorts, which are comfy but not warm)! But I don’t wear them out in public, except with my epic long maternity shirts, which basically come to the knee. I’m pretty sure everything is covered. That, and I’m so short, no one can even tell I have legs any more at all unless they lie on the floor for a side view. So we’re just covered all around, no matter how you slice it.

    When not pregnant, though? Yeah. Leggings are not pants. Unless you’re three years old.

  17. As a stray male reader, wondering why people wear clothes at all in heaven, and finding this instead, and I firmly disagree. Legging are hotter than being modest. They are stylish and I’m pretty sure an all knowing creator doesn’t care what you wear, people do, and men like leggings. Not only that, this seems to be written out of envy of beautiful girls, which is closer to a sin than wearing revealing clothes. There are many naturalists who believe in Jesus, and they don’t wear clothes at all. What they lack in modesty they make up for in non-materialism.

  18. I weigh 105 pounds. Not trying to sound mean, but I don’t have any flab, and I work out all the time. In other words: I have a fantastic body shape. I’m short, skinny, and have the perfect butt. You wear a long enough shirt with a tiny enough body, it looks cute. It doesn’t look “immodest” if there’s no pudge hanging out. It’s just a cute outfit. Wear outfits according to your body shape.

  19. and to add to my comment, what’s wrong with guys knowing what we look like naked? Don’t they run around with their shirts off all of the time? Kind of silly we care so much if you ask me. If it wasn’t so “forbidden” people wouldn’t be freaking out all of the time

  20. Pingback: An Interview with Hannah | twocatholicgirls

  21. Quote: “what’s wrong with guys knowing what we look like naked?”

    I take an example: to me, it is OK to see my wife naked. Only my wife. Sex belongs to marriage, not to streets. Young women, please understand, what you are doing!

    This is very true: “Leggings make it look like you aren’t wearing anything to a guy. If you wear leggings, you are (intentionally or not) leading men to lust after you.”

  22. I know this comment is now several years after your post (and may not be seen) but I wanted to thank you for your efforts Hannah.

    Although I think lifestyle and the inherited imperfections from original sin may often account for some ‘flaws’ in our bodies, I certainly agree that the media -and social circles- regrettably portray an image of how men and women should look, and Heaven help anyone who doesn’t fit the bill!

    And I think your point in number 6 about lustful thoughts is very accurate: men are ‘visual’ and our brains ‘complete’ missing parts of the things we see, so leggings and other very tight, short or low-cut clothing certainly does provide an unnecessary field of temptation for lustful thoughts for men and, I dare say, in women may contribute to a diminished understanding of the beauty of authentic femininity…

    In my experience it’s certainly not easy to stand up for modest clothing because we can be fiercely labelled as “judgemental”, “old fashioned” etc, but we still need to do it and I’m glad to see someone else is trying.

    And, in accord with your “modest is hottest” line, I’d have to agree that, as a man, some forms of women’s dress can be provocative (unfortunately), but a woman modestly dressed….now that’s beautiful!

    God bless,


  23. I was wondering about leggings with knee (or bellow knee) or much longer dresses? Is there anything wrong with that? I feel more comfortable with that. Not short dresses though. But I like leggings over exposed skin, and I love dresses.

  24. AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! Hanah, thank you for publishing this!!! For the young man who supports leggings because he believes women’s bodies are to be seen in this manner, I URGE you to study the Catichism of the Catholic Church and the Word of God. Seek the Lord’s answers for your walk with Him. Know what He saya through His holy Word and His church. He gives us His teaching for our good because He loves us.

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