The epic "tights are/aren't pants" discussion!

Since this cropped up in another topic, I decided to try forking it off here:

It’s one of those phenomena I am surprised that there is so much controversy about netside. Any discussion of things that people should/shouldn’t wear seems uncomfortably like fashion-policing to me. But why it interests me is that there are often lots of double-standards at play which I don’t see unpacked.

Such as why are there such strong reactions of “people shouldn’t need to see X” about some clothing trends, when you honestly don’t need to look at them? It seems obvious to me that the reason why “X” jumps out at you is because you are fixated upon it. This in turn leads to consensus expectations, but I am not convinced that that is a good idea. Why have expectations about what clothes a stranger might wear? At its deepest levels, I think that it reenforces many norms of class, gender, and culture/imperialism which are themselves taken for granted while being unhealthy.

What is it that draws you over the line from professing a personal dislike of an article of clothing in a certain context, and insisting upon creating a consensus about what others should do?


Well, most folks wear stuff that doesn’t stand out; I expect they don’t expect their clothing to garner any sort of reaction. Some peeps OTOH, wear stuff that’s obviously intended to communicate something, whether it’s a t-shirt with an in-joke on it, or a full-blown punk outfit. I expect they’re more open to like-minded strangers who might strike up an interaction.

This is where it gets a bit tricky… whether it’s intentional or not, women who wear revealing or form-fitting gear are always going to attract male attention. Like it or not, that’s an immutable fact, and it’s actually dangerous to pretend otherwise. And of course, it doesn’t cut both ways; as a bloke, I can’t really make it any more likely I’ll be hit on with my choice of clothing, I can only make it less unlikely, if you can appreciate that distinction.

So what we have here is a double standard. Complain about it all you like, but it’s dictated by biology, so that’s pissing in the wind. All we can do is foster a set of expectations about what’s acceptable, but unfortunately, that’s not gonna cut a lot of ice with bad actors.

I’m not sure why the above isn’t more obvious. Anyway, speech is a good analogy; you have the right to say almost anything you like, but don’t be surprised when you provoke a typical reaction.

ETA - title edit makes my post look even more off-topic

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Some leggings are pants. Some are not. The transparency of the material is generally the best guide to determining if you can wear them with a shirt that doesn’t cover your butt.


Follow-up question: do sweatpants count as tights if you gain enough weight or just happen to get angry after exposure to Gamma radiation?


I have no desire for consensus on style or fashion. Exhibit A-Z, virtually every post and every photo of me here :grinning::octopus::grinning::octopus:

I truthfully have nothing against any kind of fashion, except for two things:

  • Jeggings. I swear to fsm actual jeans are better in ever objective and subjective way
  • Kanye West white t-shirts that cost $200. I just… I just can’t.

I think that this is not unlike the matter of whether or not “body language” is usually a matter of one’s own inference, or an actually message intended by the other. It can be either, but I think that people would do well to know the difference, because that is what determines how much responsibility either party has for the communication.

I experienced something weird like that a month ago. A dentist commented upon a henna design on my hands, referring to it vaguely as “a statement”. This interested me, because statement implies a certain intent on my part. That we share some understood meaning about what its presence signifies. But when I asked them what they thought was being stated, they were coy about it, and only reiterated that it was “definitely a statement”. I dismissed that as them being a bit thick, because if they can’t/won’t explain a supposedly shared meaning, it’s probably BS.

No, I am not convinced. People only guess about whether the people around them are male or woman. How do you know that women do or don’t notice men in form-fitting clothing? Saying that the results are not the same does not suggest that there isn’t any other difference. There might also be differences of how males and women would perceive other males or women. And attention/attraction also depends upon orientation. I do agree that there are a lot of expectations bundled up here, but not upon their basis or validity. But how and why people create these expectations does interest me.

Why would a biological aspect to such trends suggest that they are immutable? Biology is whatever we make of it. If anything, that makes me more perplexed as to why people claim to be helpless in resorting to stereotyped behaviors.

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I make aesthetic judgements all day long, because I do graphic design.

I make aesthetic judgements (I like, I don’t like, that’s attractive, that’s not, etc) about people and their clothes. BUT, I am not under the impression that they ought to be shared with anyone. A lot of times, they shouldn’t, but complimenting nice things is nice. It also helps with small talk, coming up with something to compliment.

As for leggings as pants, I may or may not like the way it looks, but I’m not in the world to be the fashion police. Sometimes I do wonder if folks realize how sheer their leggings are in the butt area, but not enough to say something to them.

Personally, I don’t wear leggings out of the house, unless my top covers to mid-thigh, but that’s my own personal modesty and nothing else. In this case, I’ll refrain from going all Kantian and creating a maxim out of my actions, it’s got nothing to do with morality after all. Even if the leggings are sheer and showing off some personal business.


Not exactly true, I’ve found. There’s a ZZ top song on the topic. (Although, my “metrosexual” days were when I was younger and thinner)


The best answer is frequently the most insanely obvious one.


I’d wear leggings and jeggings every day if I could get away with it. But I’m middle aged married man. My wife won’t let me.

Edit: j/k … I mean she wouldn’t, but I woudn’t wear them at all ever in public. I do like a nice fitting pair of thermals however.


In-house lounge wear doesn’t need to take anything but comfort into account.


Um, no - biology is whatever evolution makes of it; we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of tinkering with it. Human nature is animal nature, plus culture. Wishing away any bits of animal nature we don’t like is futile - it will always be present in the aggregate to some extent, regardless of how much the culture mitigates it.


Yes, absolutely.

You monster.

(Simple boxer briefs and fluffy socks are an even more pleasing combo)


The strange thing to me is that you read something into my comment that wasn’t necessarily there. My intent was to highlight that I’m getting street harassment that one might expect to be directed at a much younger woman wearing far more revealing clothing.

I do hate the trend, though, mostly because it’s been done before, and it takes less than a decade before it’s roundly mocked. It belongs in the dustbin of fashion history along with shoulder pads and Cosby sweaters.


Back in collitch when my jeans were more holes than denim, I would wear neon-green tights beneath.


I understood why you posted it, but your post happened to remind me of a controversy that bothered me. See also the “do you like Yoga?” topic.

The notion of “revealing” seems odd to me, as it implies that something was concealed in the first place. I suppose I think in terms of being simply “visible”. But if the practical purpose of clothing is to be covered, then I think that form-fitting clothing is not necessarily revealing. For instance, tights cover a lot more than a pair of baggy shorts do, but I rarely hear people complain of shorts as being revealing unless they are extremely short indeed.

I don’t understand the appeal to novelty here. There are only so many ways to clothe a body. Trends are generally lame simply for being trends, but mocking them seems reactionary compared to simply fashioning something better to replace it. The problem with history is that, as McLuhan was aware, modern people are free to choose from any culture or point in time for their influences. There is no longer any contemporary “now” or “here” to anchor styles.

The best way to eliminate clothing trends might be to force the elimination of mass-production so that people design their own clothes. But since human bodies have similar shapes, I expect there will always be a degree of recurring form.

My version expands on that a bit: Leggings can sometimes be pants. Tights are never pants.


At least the Cosby sweater covers my modesty when I go out just wearing tights.


Are Pajama Jeans pants? They have been seen on TV. :neutral_face: