Leggings are a type of skin-tight garment that covers the legs and that may be worn by both men and women. Formerly, leggings were two separate garments, one for each leg.
Modern leggings are typically made from a blend of lycra (aka spandex), nylon, cotton, or polyester blend, but they can also be made from wool, silk and other materials. Leggings are available in a multitude of colors and decorative designs. Leggings are sometimes worn fully exposed, but are more traditionally worn partially covered by a garment such as a skirt, a large t-shirt, shorts, or fully covered by an outer garment, such as a full length skirt.
Leggings are typically ankle-length, and some are stirrupped or encase the feet. Some are shorter. Leggings are worn to keep a person’s legs warm, as protection from chafing during an activity such as exercise or as a decorative or fashion garment. Leggings are worn by both men and women during exercise but usually only by women at other times. In contemporary usage, leggings refers to tight, form-fitting trousers that extend from the waist to the ankles. In the United States, they are sometimes referred to as tights. However, the two words are not synonymous as the word tights refers to opaque pantyhose.
By the early-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States. It was very common to see leggings worn with long oversized t-shirts, oversized sweatshirts or oversized sweaters, slouch socks and Keds. Fashion turned against leggings in the late 1990s.
In 2005, leggings made a “comeback” into high fashion, particularly in indie culture, with capri-length leggings being worn with mini skirts and dresses. Consequently, leggings are also now popular to wear with oversized, long sweaters, denim mini skirt, plaid skirts, short dresses and short shorts. Ballet flats and Converse Chucks are common footwear with leggings. This trend towards tight pants can alternately be seen in the resurgence ofskinny jeans.