Onzie Graphic Leggings
There, I said it, and I?m not saying it just to be contrary.
Men should wear them both for the benefits inside and outside.
I say this from first hand experience.
I?m on a long, slow journey back to getting in shape, and a couple of months ago, I decided that my lower body was ready for leggings again. I used to wear them often when my weeks included many miles of biking, and several hours of step aerobics, spinning and yoga. Back then, I wore them almost as a protest against the jeans makers of America. They simply couldn?t conceive that a man?s thigh muscles might get bigger as his waist got smaller. Some time in the late 90s, my choices dwindled to bulky carpenter?s jeans, and I preferred the sleek, Olympian look of leggings and unitards. My current fitness regimen has grown to include daily yoga and biking and occasional spin classes and I can see my former complaints with the jeans industry emerging, so it seemed like time to take a step away from mainstream sartorial conventions again.
Also, every time I went on Instragram?s plethora of yoga-related pages, my legs would turn green with envy as I perused the myriad of patterns and colors that my inspirations wore. I?d engage in an inner monologue about why I was letting gender doom me to the monochromatic boredom of blue jeans. In addition, I work at a fancy grocery store that is near several yoga and spinning class studios. So yoga pants envy had become a regular part of my intellectual terrain as the clientele introduced brands like Onzie, Koral, Yoga Democracy, Sweaty Betty, Re3Life and Niyama Sports into my vernacular. My legs wanted to be green with some lycra polyester blend instead of jealousy.
Finally one day, I decided to do something about it. I went on Amazon and searched ?yoga pants.? Natually the brands I adored on Instagram or had been hipped to by customers were well out of the price range of a struggling freelance writer who works at a fancy grocery store. Then I decided to shop by price. Sure enough there were some well known brand names on sale, and I ordered two pairs.
When they arrived, I slid the ones from Alo on and had a epiphany. There?s a reason they call them ?pants.? These were much sturdier than the running tights that I wore during my fitness fanatic days, smoother fitting and more comfortable too. Small wonder so many women wore them regardless of whether downward facing dog was on their agenda. My Alos were charcoal and dark green with a pattern that looked like a pixelated houndstooth. My other pair were camoflauge. I paired them with a hoodie and some Bogs boots I had also recently scored online and boom! I was ready to hit the streets like it was 1999 all over again. I felt lighter and more aware of the world around me. It was a little like being high without risk of spacing out.
The first time I wore them to the store, the reactions were telling. As was the case on the street, I received discreet side eyes and smiles from women, but guys were verbal in their enthusiasm. My boss, and one of the other managers, both of whom pointedly admired my usual snow day look of leggings and Moon Boots, asked why I don?t rock the boots/yoga pants look every day. Another coworker, who like many men at the store has an idiosyncratic, well coiffed hairdo and facial hair combination and usually wears brightly colored sneakers, nearly interviewed me about the feel and how I handled the additional attention. I told him I was dressing to please myself, and in that regard, I was following the example of many women I know. That other people liked it was simply the icing on the cake, then remembering that one of his responsibilities was baking, I corrected myself, ?actually it?s sprinkles.?
Their reaction prompted me to write. Here are three reasons men should wear yoga pants.
Seriously, there isn?t anything denim makers can do that?s close to the patterns found on yoga pants these days.
KoralYoga Democracy > denim
Two: Body Awareness
Men tend to regard their body as having three not particularly well connected parts, the head, the feet and well, you know, genetalia. Form conscious clothing forces men to recognize the silhouette, the ahem, hourglass, and yes, wrestle with the inadequacies and insecurities that come with that recognition. Men are gold medalists at either ignoring or denying our worthiness issues; we?re too busy chillin? to bother. You can?t do that in skin tight clothing. You?re telling the world that you?re comfortable in your own skin. That?s an especially useful exercise for me as a writer; Zadie Smith thinks all writers suffer from worthiness issues, and I certainly do. But it?s probably useful for every man. That level of comfort goes deeper than the Popeye the Sailor Man ?I Yam What I Yam.? It acknowledges that men are looked at ? albeit with a fraction of the scutiny that women endure ? and you can either welcome the attention or reject it. Everyone loves a good host.
And let?s get real. Even if you?re young and dumb, no one looks good in low slung jeans and boxers. No one. There are better ways to broadcast your physique, much better ways. This is one of them.
Oh, and one other thing. Yes, this may mean that people might see the outline of your dick. Guess what, nobody except you cares about the size of your dick. The measure of a man is what?s inside, not what?s hanging between his legs. In fact, you?d be far better off wearing a hoodie or t-shirt that covers that part of your physique; it will make you look less narcissistic and less predatory.
Consider the possibilities once the silhouette is in play. Big colorful sneakers paired with cool yoga pants followed by with a dark hoodie and topped with artfully done haircut/facial hair. In other words, introducing a lean/big, colorful/basic dynamic into men?s apparel opens a myriad of possibilities. I tend to wear my yoga pants with boots as I like the rock and roll aspect of the look, but also my idea of sneakers are $50 New Balance purchased online, not $300 Jordans.
Also, men are far less likely than women to store fat in our thighs, so we tend to have shapely legs. Yoga pants lets us lead with a distinctive physical strength rather than a commonplace bland attitude.
And yes, in the end, it means that I?m advocating men dress like women, but WHAT?S WRONG WITH THAT?? Even a blind man can tell that women dress with way more sophistication and flair than men. Men should ahem, follow their example and do so in regards to skirts via kilts and dresses via tunics and dishdashas. All of it will mean finding ways to recognize inner strengths and project the body as something more than head, feet, and yeah, you know.
Martin Johnson is a freelance writer whose work on music, sports and culture has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Newsday, New York, Vogue, Rolling Stone, The Root, Slate, The Atlantic, and numerous other publications and websites. He has written on personal style here and gender ettiquette here. He also blogs at Rotations, and he can be contacted at [email protected].