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I bet you didn’t know that leggings are controversial! They totally are. I mean, not as controversial as whether Jessica Simpson should have named her baby girl, Maxwell Drew, but leggings are still a big issue around here.

That means it’s time for another round of… I’m Right. You’re Wrong (an idea stolen from my talented friend Marinka).

Disagreement: Should a 5 and 7-year-old be able to wear just leggings and a t-shirt to school? Or should their mom require the girls to put on a skirt/dress over the leggings?

Disagreers: The mom vs. 5 and 7-year-old.

(To keep things completely fair, I won’t tell you who represents each position.)

Position One: Of course it’s okay to wear just a shirt and leggings. EVERY GIRL AT SCHOOL DOES THIS.  Seriously. Everyone. And skirts are so annoying. And itchy. And we hate running around with skirts on. And we are going to be so mad if you don’t let us. Because that would be so unfair. SO UNFAIR. So PLEASE let us. PLEASE let us. We will be so good if you let us. And so mad if you don’t. You just have to let us.We love leggings. It’s like wearing pajamas at school. They are so comfortable. PLEASE. And also, we want a pet rabbit.

Position Two: I don’t know about this leggings thing. It’s a slippery slope. If I say yes, then you are going to come downstairs with leggings and a toddler pajama top and call it an outfit. And that’s just not appropriate for preschool or first grade. What’s wrong with a nice skirt? Or dress? You can still wearing the leggings. Just under something else. And we’re still thinking about the rabbit.

So who’s right? Is leggings and a top now a school appropriate outfit?


71 Responses to the debate over leggings

  • Ann says:

    As my sister and I text to each other with distressing frequency, LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS! (Yes, we use all caps. We find this subject to be very important. And, as I said, distressing.) Leggings, in the world that we rule over, may be worn under skirts only, and only by young girls. Our world is lovely.

    • Molly says:

      I see no problem with leggings as pants at any age. 1-150 us fine with me. You can’t stop me or my kids from doing it so you can just let it go. My body was made this way for a reason and I’m not gonna have me or my kids cover it up.

  • Shana says:

    Leggings are not pants. Agreed. More like footless tights. Which, also, are not pants. Camel toe is not an attractive look. At any age.

  • Student Mom says:

    The Bunny’s almost 4 and has just been dropped at pre-school in pretty pink leggings with a bit of bling on the ankle, and a hello kitty shirt – you can guess my stance.
    More mature kids, however – like teens with something to advertise… they need to wear skirts over the top! As do Moms. Just my opinion.

  • momofthree says:

    I have a friend that has leggings with a jean print confused with jeggings. It makes me crazy seeing her child running around in the leggings with just a t-shirt, nothing long on top. I told her they were leggings but she didn’t believe me. My daughter has never asked to just wear leggings, knock on wood.

  • jodi says:

    I agree with Heather. As long as they are wearing a long enough top, I have no problem with leggings. My girls live in them.

  • how about leggings and a tunic-y thing on top? very bollywood. because it’s fine now, but in a few years…it won’t be. Of course, I spent most of my graduate school career in leggings, high tops, and a man’s button-down shirt. But it was the 80s, I lived in Manhattan, and Desperately Seeking Susan was in high rotation. I was the victim in that fashion crime.

  • AmyB says:

    In our house leggings are pants for school age girls. That is basically all my 9 year old will wear and she won’t even think about a skirt or dress!


    • Kailey says:

      So what ages are considered? I am 13 and my stepdad has something against them but my mom doesn’t care. They have gotten into arguments about it before too. And without her knowing he took away all my leggings…

  • Lisa says:

    Leggings are not pants. Can one of you call my 54 yr old friend and tell her leggings are dead to her? Seriously at the gym or occasionally with a tonic top but not daily. Her friends and her boss thank you.

  • Bitsy says:

    They look perfectly appropriate in the picture, so I guess if the top is long enough it’s all good. However, as the mother of a high-schooler who likes to bend the rules, I can tell you that dress code when they get older might not permit it. But maybe by the time yours are in high school this round of leggings popularity will have passed.

  • Marinka says:

    this isn’t even close! OF COURSE leggings and a t-shirt are totally ok for the 5-7, ok maybe 8, year old set. so tell them to march upstairs and take off those skirts, Kelcey!

  • Jordana says:

    Kelcey – I am SHOCKED!! You were the one that transformed my dress opinion by telling me I should let Ava wear her “fancy” dress to school – an opinion which I am now so glad I listened to as she has gotten such joy from that dress that she probably would have never worn. Let them wear the leggings!! The one thing I would add is that they should have shirts that cover their butts – but even that I wouldn’t fight too hard.

  • Jordana says:

    PS: To all you legging haters – Is there really SUCH a difference between skinny jeans and leggings? I think not, ladies (and yes, Ann, I’m talking to you AND your sister! xoxox). Judge not ye who wear skinny jeans : )

  • Jami Newkirk says:

    I am a mom who, Thanks to Olivia, has a 4 year old that loves wearing her “Lucky Tights” as much as possible. I don’t fight it. She has lots of long shirts to cover her tush.

  • beachgirl says:

    Leggings rock as long as you cannot see your derriere…then they not rock so much…I do the leggings, tutu type skirt and top with my 6 year old and the minute she gets in from school the rips that skirt off as its just “too much clothes mom!!!!”

  • Christine says:

    I think leggings-as-pants just looks kinda sloppy.

    Any jordana- there is a huge difference between skinny jeans and legging. Skinny jeans are denim and leggings are thin cotton. Thicker fabric like denim doesn’t stretch out all loose and sloppy at the knees and doesn’t lend itself to camel toes as easily. Now jeggings, those are somewhat of a gray area….

    • Tabby says:

      Christine, they make leggings out of denim now. I have a couple pair of those. So, nope. There is really no difference vmbetween skinny jeans and leggings (well, one. The jeans usually have pockets).

  • daphne says:

    Unbelievable — we had the same fight/discussion this weekend. I came down on the side of leggings as pants are fine up until age 6 — then cover up that tush please. My kids are fighting the decision..

  • Kris says:

    Leggings must atleast have a shirt that covers the buns. I won’t let my girls wear something now that I wouldn’t let them wear when they are 13, otherwise it will be “You used to let me do it….” So much harder to change a rule to be stricter than change a rule to be less strict. We have a lot of tunic tops. There are also the looser fitting knit pants that are just as comfortable…but can be worn with just a top.

  • Chante says:

    We do the longer shirt/tunic with stretch pants a lot. My girls have mostly skorts so leggings with them is “too many pairs of pants, mom!” And sometimes, as long as they are fully covered, the hair and teeth are brushed, and they make it to school on time that is all that matters! Maybe you should invest in some tutus…my girls would never argue putting those over leggings!

  • Bess says:

    I have no problems with leggings for my 8 year-old. I make sure if she lifts her arms up her stomach doesn’t show, but otherwise any shirt is fine. To each their own (kids). 🙂

  • N and Em's mom says:

    I am in the ‘cover your ass’ camp. I am also in the ‘condition them when they’re young’ camp. If anyone does not see the wisdom in this, watch Flashdance and imagine your 17 year old walking around in her dance get-up out in public.

  • Steph says:

    My now 14-year old lived in the Gymboree elastic waistband pants as a 5-6 year old. Were those leggings or did they have another name? They seemed not as tight as leggings are now. I vote with Jordana.

  • Betsy says:

    I have the same problem with bike shorts here. My daughter does like skirts and dresses.
    1. Leggings, bike shorts or tights must be worn under any skirt that does not have a built in skort.
    2. Leggings- unless they have real, WORKING pockets must be worn with a shirt or dress that covers the bum.

    Having taught 8th grade for so many years, I started teaching respect for your own body early.

    Our latest issue concerns shorts. Last years shorts still fit around the waist, but are too short. It is difficult finding long shorts for a skinny child. Thank goodness for the adjustab le waist bottoms.

  • frankasen says:

    What are their friends wearing? That’s the bottom line at that age. Mike used to strip off his sweat pants with shorts underneath at the corner on the walk to school. That was in 45 degree weather!

  • Kerri says:

    I say yes (as my kids wear them!) However, the school rule is that when the child raises their hand in the air, there is to be no belly showing, so we stick with that rule! That means they have to wear a longer shirt. Plus my kids are so slim that their leggings are not tight.


  • This is very long. It could be a blog post. But I have VERY IMPORTANT RABBIT INFORMATION!!! No insights about the leggings but I have VERY STRONG FEELINGS about the bunny.


    Well, because just re-homed our bunny via Craig’s List. (And it was CRAZY how many emails I got who wanted a free bunny. People sending pictures of themselves and their entire life stories in hopes of securing our rabbit. Don’t they know you can get one from the pet store for $40?)

    Apparently rabbits are not very good kid pets. They’re skittish. And kids come with many, many, many, MANY skittish-exacerbating tendencies.

    We usually research our pets very well. We impulsively bought the bunny after I miscarried. Not the best time to be making decisions about cuddly soft little baby animals.

    Our rabbit spent the majority of his time out of the cage under our couch. Eating the couch. He also spent a great deal of his life running away from the children.

    They’re great because you can litter box train them very easily. Ours roamed around in the basement and upstairs in the family room and used his litter box 100% of the time (save a stray bunny pellet here and there). We got him a huge cage to sleep in and go to when we were not going to be around him in the family room because we really hate the idea of confining animals to tiny places.

    But the problem with rabbits is that they CHEW. EVERYTHING. Eating the underside of our new couch was just the beginning.

    You have to wrap all of your cords so the rabbit won’t chew through them. Ours gnawed through two cell chargers, there lamp cords, one iron cord and a computer cord. And he did serious damage in several places to a second charger that belonged to my work laptop. Yes. Imagine my embarrassment surrendering the substantially electrical taped cord when they replaced my computer. It’s like the Hungry Caterpillar times ten. I have no idea how he didn’t electrocute himself.

    Of greater import to your girls is that fact that he chewed up three Barbie dolls’ legs. Yes. He chewed the feet right off and made his way pretty far up the thigh. I was concerned that one of the boys was mutilating dolls and considering serious intervention when I realized it was the rabbit. He’s also inflicted harm to several books, toys and art supplies. Those darn kids just don’t pick anything up. And if it looks like they’ve picked up, they bunny will be very good at using it’s bunny senses to find the one thing it can destroy.

    They live a surprisingly long time (like 5-8 years) and sexing them is very difficult. We selected a girl at the pet store. The employee who sexed the rabbit bred and raised rabbits and was from a farm. So we assume he’s pretty competent. Then a few months into our rabbit-ownership, our rabbit’s testicles descended (or, as one of the boys called them, “the rabbits’ tentacles”).

    Might I suggest the lovely addition of a Guinea Pig? Their lifespan is slightly shorter and they’re super friendly pets. They’re also social animals (with each other) so you could get TWO and each girl could have one! Plus they have these amazing colics that make their hair stand up in crazy patterns that is super cute. We had a boy piggy (named “Nameless” because the original Guinea Pig we bought died and we were too distraught to name the new guy for such a long time that I dubbed him “Nameless”). We then inherited a girl pig from a friend (who was named the overly originally moniker of “Snowball” so we renamed “SnowPig” because Snowball was way too boring). So we neutered Nameless so they could be friends without having babies. Yes. We spent $200 to neuter a $30 pet.

    But, I digress. GPs are great with kids AND have the added bonus of eating all the veggie discards from cooking. Making stir fry? Just toss the carrot peels, peapod ands and broccoli stems in the cage. They’ll disappear in a day. Expedited composting.

    Now, if you know anyone who wants our cat who is on Prozac, needs a kitty pheromone diffuser and has to eat special canned cat food (and also needs to stay sequestered in our master bedroom because our family stresses him out too much), please let me know.

  • I coach high school cheerleading as a part-time job and I completely agree that leggings are not to be worn with just a shirt or t-shirt. I see so many girls of all ages wearing them as pants, especially in the winter with UGG boots….

  • I present you with UNIQLO’s marketing material:

    “UNIQLO’s next-generation Jeans Pants will forever change the way you think about bottoms. These hybrid items feature the slim, attractive leg lines of skinny jeans, combined with the comfort of leggings. Leggings Pants are set to liberate the legs of women around the world.”

    Forever change the way you think about bottoms!! LIBERATE YOUR CHILDREN’S LEGS!!

    Uniqlo really promises a lot, especially for a Monday.

  • kristen says:

    I don’t like the look, but what do I know — I only have boys, one of whom insists on wearing a tie-dye to school every single day.

  • I’m definitely in the “leggings are not pants” camp.

    Are Nike Tempo shorts (running shorts) popular up there? They are big in Austin and lots of the girls wear them, instead of skirts, over leggings. Comfy but covered.

    • Rose says:

      I am a 15-year-old high school and I am a lover of leggings and completely believe that they are pants! I have struggled with body confidence for many years now, leggings are a great way to feel that I am not swimming in my clothes and allow myself to show my figure even though I am extremely skinny. I have received some hate for wearing leggings in the past including a mom calling me a slut at the mall when I was only 12 years old because I was wearing leggings and a crop top! While we may have differences in opinions all I ask is that you try not to judge too much, you never know what a person is going through! Please never express your complaints publically, you never know how much your words could hurt somebody.

  • Sarah says:

    Leggings are FINE to wear as pants, sheesh. If this is what you’re worrying about now, you’re going to have a long teenage road ahead! Have a look at the Hanna Andersson catalogue for reference. And they aren’t pairing the leggings with tube tops (which is where a mum’s guidance comes in), they’re wearing them with big hoodies. Tunic length tops work well, too. Perhaps for adults it’s helpful to have those reminders that yoga pants are for yoga, not the symphony, but your girls are babies! Save your battles for when you’re prying your favourite “evening out” black eyeliner out of their grubby 14 year old hands…

  • erinb says:

    no she should NOT have named her maxwell. hate it.

    we have this lively discussion every with my 4 year old. the same conclusion everyday (by me only of course) is…leggings are not pants. otherwise they would be called pants. not leggings.

  • Nanette says:

    No leggings aloud without a dress or skirt coverage! This is a constant discussion my 6 year old and I have. What’s worse? When a kindergartner goes to school in tights and a shirt… gotta love that!

  • MommyTime says:

    In my world, leggings are only pants in the following situations: (1) if you are our for a run early in the morning, or in the winter; (2) if you are at figure-skating practice and know the difference between a salchow and a lutz; (3) if you want to wear a sweater-dress or tunic that is a little shorter than you would normally find acceptable with bare legs; (4) if you are under 6. I don’t think leggings are pants if you are 23, 6 feet tall, and a high-fashion model — but I can’t help grudgingly admitting that they actually look good on you as pants if you are all those things.

  • Dorothy says:

    Ooh this is a biggie with my daughter and her 8 year old. The shirt has to be mid thigh to go over the leggings or they are not worn unless under a skirt. No booty showing and nor camel toe visions allowed. Leggings are not pants!
    Yes we used to wear them, but again, the tops covered the bootys. To me, it’s worse than when they all wear their pajama bottoms as pants which is just lazy and frumpy and besides they’re ugly lol.
    Ongoing fight in their household…..”Go find a longer shirt if you want to wear those!” I agree.
    And no, not everyone is doing it!!!

  • {sue} says:

    We have this debate ALL THE TIME in my house. Me, playing the part of the mother and my daughter playing the part of a 6-year old. I say The Butt Must Be Covered. Tunic, skirt, dress, whatever. Now if the leggings have a flare at the bottom, then they are yoga pants and the rules change. That’s where it gets a little hazy…

  • Lotte B says:

    Leggings are not jeans (there is actally a facebook group you can join with that name…). True – the difference between tight jeans and leggings is almost “none”, but the jeans still have some jeans features whereas the leggings are…well, just tight/leggings. I say no go to leggings. They don’t look good on anyone…it is a fashion-issue.
    But – if they insist on leggings, then the clue must be: cover your bum…

  • Hollienoel says:

    It’s almost not worth posting my comment because it’s pretty well covered up there. Leggings are not pants; cover the bum/crotch area; tunics, dresses, and skirts are great over leggings; don’t let them get away with much sartorially that you won’t let them do in 10-15 years. And Steph, yeah, those Gymboree soft-pants things are different from leggings. They aren’t tight. I know in the short version they call them bicycle shorts (even though what I wore as “bicycle shorts” in the 80s were a scandalously tight, but modestly long incarnation of those).

  • Jeneen says:

    Can you start buying them knit pants instead of leggings? When I used to have to dress up for work I would always go with those knit dress pants from NY & Co because they feel like pajama bottoms but look nice enough for work…or maybe kiddie version of yoga pants???

  • Corinne says:

    I have strong feelings about leggings. First and foremost, anyone wearing leggings MUST cover their bums. It’s a rule- all ages. Secondly, spandex is a privilege, not a right. There should be some kind of screening process prior to purchase.

  • DawnGes says:

    When being given the ol’ “everyone is doing it!” argument, I always found it helpful to announce that the next day I’d have to go to their school to do my own research project and gather the actual statistics–just to be sure.

  • Sarah says:

    Tights aren’t pants. It’s more acceptable for tiny little girls to run around in them, but that just makes 20-30 year old overweight women with massive camel toes and cottage-cheese thighs think that *they* can wear them, and no one – NO ONE – wants that. Ever. omg…no, tights are not pants.


  • We only do leggings under a dress or skirt, not as pants. I figure they’re like tights, but without the feet: they keep your legs warm and hide your underwear if you’re upside down on the playground. My 1st grader hasn’t tried to wear them on their own with a T-shirt.

  • Evaline N. says:

    I am 14, and I LOVE leggings! They are so comfy. BUT, I do agree, shirts must cover your behind if you are going to pair them with a shirt. Currently, I like to pair my leggings with a dress. Cute, modest, and comfy! ( Though, I am probably one of the only kids my age who believes in modesty. Have you seen how middle-schoolers dress these days?!?!)

  • Just17boySebastian says:

    Lol, like if boys of that age cared about bums and camel toes. They (we – boys) are going to begin with this at the age of 10-12. And then they should make the choice – to have attention or to keep hiding. Forever. And ever. Imho it’s ok for any age to wear leggings, the wearer should just make sure he’s not gonna hurt anybodys eyes

  • annonimous says:

    wonder why your little girls in leggings (tights) w only a T-shirts are sexually molestede by perverse to get off licking at young legs! Yes, do want you & your young children want, outside the home, its a jungle for them. Please, don’t cry, when it happens to your child when you knew!

    Annoyed concerned person for the safety of children

  • annonimous says:

    molested, perversion, liking young legs, do what you…

    sorry for the computer changing the misspelled words for a totally different one.

  • Michelle says:

    What the heck guys!
    You do not have to cover your butt when you wear leggings!
    Nor do six year old girls!
    It’s honestly freaking me out that girls are being sexualised at such a young age!
    C’mon they are children!
    ‘Rules’ like these are only perpetuating sexist attitudes and the over sexualisation of women!!
    Leggings are fine with whatever shirt you want!

    • Sierra says:

      Protecting children from sexualization is not sexualizing children.
      There are some terrible people out there, and we need to talk about it. Perhaps being open about these issues with our girls will help them to be more cognizant of their body, and make smart clothing choices on their own. I wish my mom told me the way I look is directly correlated to how people treat me, this is a sad harsh reality for women. Women’s bodies are constantly subjected to the male gaze, and this doesn’t happen at 12 or 13, we have sexual aggressors looking at 4-year-old girls in this manner. My body is something I wish I was more aware of growing up, I didn’t realize situations could be dangerous until I was already in them and being either objectified or worse. This is all at a young age, and before youtube, twitter and tick tock. I have two beautiful little girls, and I want them to know their beauty and know how to protect themselves. But I don’t want to instill fear.

  • Sierra says:

    Okay, So I know I’m a little late to this feed but lets take another look, shall we? The year is 2020, the people have been inside, pedophile tracking is lacking due to lack of government resources. I have two beautiful little girls, one of which loves, I mean loves to wear her leggings. She’s six, Shes gorgeous, and very active. She hates to wear underwear, I think its a texture thing. I know she’s only six but I worry about when we go outside her little bottom being so exposed. I am looking online for tunics, that I might be able to convince her to wear. She hates dresses and skirts and I’ve already tried the 80’s style shorts over leggings. I love wearing thick leggings, yoga pants, and I wear them for work (house cleaning), I want her to be able to do backflips and run around freely (so forget about jeans or pants). I don’t want to make her do anything but I want to protect her body from the wondering male gaze. I hope the long tunic tee’s work out and I am open to any and all suggestions. I mean if they just put fake pockets in the back I would be happy but its hard to find decent childrens clothing, and they grow out of it so fast. Send help! Thanks.

    • Rose says:

      I am a 15-year-old high school and I am a lover of leggings and completely believe that they are pants! I have struggled with body confidence for many years now, leggings are a great way to feel that I am not swimming in my clothes and allow myself to show my figure even though I am extremely skinny. I have received some hate for wearing leggings in the past including a mom calling me a slut at the mall when I was only 12 years old because I was wearing leggings and a crop top! While we may have differences in opinions all I ask is that you try not to judge too much, you never know what a person is going through! Please never express your complaints publically, you never know how much your words could hurt somebody.

  • Melody says:

    leggings are pants and they should be treated as so, I wear leggings all day every day and there is no problem. I would even let a 5 year old wear them if they really wanted to (I’m not a mom btw) they are super comfy and they look nice on anyone.

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kelcey kintner