(An earlier version of this post appeared in Women’s Voices Magazine.)
By: Mary Fran Bontempo
It’s almost fall, when the first chill touches the air, as we dig out cozy sweaters, long pants, scarves and all manner of clothing that covers. And it can’t come a moment too soon.
After a summer at the Jersey shore, I’ve had my fill of flesh. Along with the blessing of months on the beach comes the often frightening parade of people intent on showing the world all they have to offer and then some. I figure that by season’s end, I’ve personally viewed enough swim suit exposed epidermis to cover all the acreage of Yosemite National Park. I am satiated with skin.
So I look forward to fall, when we are forced to camouflage our “assets” with clothing that leaves things better imagined up to the imagination. I scour women’s magazines, eagerly anticipating the latest fashion trends, which justifies a trip to the mall and, if not exactly a complete wardrobe overhaul, will at least leave me feeling current and not hopelessly frumpy with my closet full of “nothing to wear” (which, by the way, has been determined by a bunch of male ophthalmologists to be a disease of the eye striking women in their teens and lasting until death.)
Imagine my utter horror, then, to again discover women’s magazines ablaze with some form of the headline, “Leggings and Skinny Jeans are Back! And YES! You Can Wear Them!”
Well, no, I can’t. And I’m willing to bet that neither can most of America—including the guys. Some words just shouldn’t be dangled in front of the general populace when talking fashion, unless they come pre-packaged with a magic wand. “Skinny” is one of them.
Let’s talk leggings. Made mostly of spandex—either savior or demon to every “real” woman on the planet—leggings are, in a word, borderline offensive. Okay, that’s two words, because I wanted to allow that little girls, teens and some young women in their twenties can pull off leggings. The rest of us should probably think twice—or three or four or twelve times before squashing our legs into human sausage casings.
Designed to cling, leggings hug every conceivable lump, bump and bulge, and not in a warm and fuzzy way. Leggings can make a size six look fat. Much to my chagrin, I wore leggings in the eighties, and though it sometimes takes me a while to learn from my mistakes, with leggings, a few turns of the pages of an old photo album jump started my leap onto the learning curve. Leggings were only one of my fashion faux pas, (home perms anyone?) but boy, were they a biggie.
Unless you are an emaciated actress or model—do not wear leggings. Anyone who tells you they look good on you is trying to a) steal your boyfriend, b) make themselves look good by making you look like a cow in contrast, or c) is your boyfriend or husband and simply trying to avoid getting yelled by saying the leggings make you look fat.
Unless the leggings are made with reinforced steel, they will not hold you in in all of the places you need holding in. You might as well wear a bikini to the mall in November for all of the coverage you’re going to get from leggings. And please don’t do that.
A long tunic might provide some coverage if you insist on indulging. Yes the tunic must be long, but unless it’s floor length, don’t think it will completely cover up that weird, bulgy place on the inside of your thighs, which will be on full display with your leggings. It will not. And you do have that weird, bulgy place. All women, except that anomaly of nature, Cara Delevingne (the ridiculously skinny English model whose thighs do not touch and who has inspired previously sane women to undergo lunchtime liposuction), have bulgy thighs.
If you insist on wearing leggings, be sure to buy several rolls of duct tape along with the leggings. If you tightly wrap your legs, hips and butt with duct tape, you might be able to pull off leggings. Maybe. I doubt it.
Don’t even get me started on skinny jeans. At least spandex has a little give. Skinny jeans? As in skinny denim? Not only will normal sized women have trouble getting the jeans past their thighs and hips, most of us will break a major sweat trying to getting our feet and ankles through the leg openings at the bottom of the pants. Even if you should manage to hold your breath long enough to get the jeans on and buttoned, unless you happen to be built like a flagpole, there’s nothing about this fashion DON’T that will make you look skinny—or attractive. (See aforementioned paragraphs on reinforced steel, thigh bulges and duct tape.)
I’m thrilled that it’s time to cover up for fall. But unless leggings and skinny jeans come with a magic spell and a gross of tape, I’ll find other options. In fact, maybe I’ll forgo shopping and just wear what’s in my closet.
Even with a room full of “nothing to wear,” there’s gotta be something better than that.