Fashion Masochist: Men’s Leggings
For guys, “slim fit” has taken on a whole new meaning Jason Feifer bravely tightens up his wardrobe.
Over the past few years, menswear has gotten consistently slimmer: skinny ties, then suits, then jeans. Now designers like Prada and Jean Paul Gaultier are applying the final squeeze, as men’s leggings (meggings, perhaps?) show up in their fall lines. Some feature stirrups, some are paired with gladiator-style tunics. All are shamelessly tight.
The Experience They came from the men’s section at American Apparel, but my size-small black leggings are labeled Classic Girl Spandex. Oh, well. At an agile 5 foot 7 and 135 pounds, I can wriggle into anything. Not that I frequently do so: My everyday look is more schlub than studied—usually I just throw on whatever’s clean and comfy. But friends tell me I should flaunt my wiry physique, so I consider this a crash course.
The leggings are thicker and longer than traditional women’s styles, and remarkably stretchy; on the hanger, they resemble sweatpants for a four-year-old. When I try them on, there’s trouble: I can’t sport boxers underneath or I’ll risk looking as if I’m still potty training, and I haven’t owned tighty whities since middle school. In desperation, I borrow a pair of my girlfriend’s bikini-style red panties, which turn out to be alarmingly comfortable. I also tote around a messenger bag, to compensate for the leggings’ lack of pockets.
In this superherolike garment, my legs are slender and unfamiliar—and just below the belt, I’m a little indecent. I feel like a ballet school reject. Yet on the street I’m generally greeted with indifference. An elderly woman puts her hand on my arm, then shuffles away. (An empathetic gesture? Possibly, but I bet she just lost her balance.)
At work, the leggings aren’t hailed as high fashion. “It looks like you’re going to the gym,” says one coworker, and others agree—once they’ve stopped pointing and howling. Later, I strut through the North End, eating pastries. As I pass a row of men sitting outside Caffè Vittoria, they all glance at my legs (a woman’s?), then my face (no!), then anywhere else as fast as possible.
The Verdict I liked being complimented on my legs, and after some getting used to, the skintight feeling is quite enjoyable. But leggings just aren’t practical—I need pockets (and my own underwear). On the other hand, I think I’m finally ready to make the leap to skinny jeans.