CON: Yoga pants themselves aren’t awful, but they’ve caused a real problem

People, let’s talk for a second about yoga pants.

I will be the first to admit — I wear yoga pants myself. For me, the trend began in junior high, and some of my more well-off classmates were segueing from the terry cloth Juicy sweatsuit phase.

I saw all the cool and pretty girls proudly sporting yoga pants in the hallways. They were the magical garment that made it possible to wear sweatpants and also seem as if you tried to look good that day. This struggle is one I still face on a regular basis.

I decided I had to have my own pair of fancy yoga pants. So I saved up a lot of birthday money, pooling American Express and half-used mall gift cards. I proudly walked into Bloomingdale’s and picked up a pair of nearly $100 Hard Tail pants (this brand, along with So Low, was the big name in stylish lounge wear at that time).

I loved my yoga pants. I wore them so much, they became holey – and as a result probably even more risque than they already were. I wore them strategically — though I liked the way they looked, I knew they were pretty revealing, and I always made a point to wear looser tops to counteract the way they tightly hugged my legs. I’ve bought several more pairs since that day (though never that expensive — I realized I could get them at most stores for much cheaper and I had grown out of my need to wear the best labels), but my balancing rule has stuck with me.

So I have few problems with yoga pants themselves, though I can see how some might find them a bit too revealing. However, I do have a problem with what they’ve led to.

The social acceptance of yoga pants has snowballed into a newer trend: leggings as pants. There is a key difference between leggings and yoga pants (unless you’ve bought your yoga pants at Lululemon recently), and that is the thickness of the fabric.

Yoga pants are designed to be worn alone, and their fabric is typically thick and opaque. They also typically fold over at the top and flare out at the ankles, thus ensuring that the shape of the pants does not solely resemble the shape of the person underneath.

Leggings, however, are not pants.

They are designed as an undergarment — solely for additional warmth, maybe to show peeking out under the skirt for some added flair. This yoga pants sibling is more similar to stockings than sweatpants. Wearing leggings as pants in public is essentially like wearing tights as pants, except leggings show bare skin from the calf down. So really, they’re worse. And nobody wants to see what color underwear you’re wearing through your pants.

Is this an arbitrary difference? Maybe. It may be time we say enough is enough on the whole thing — confine yoga pants to the home and gym and return to the baggy sweatpants we once cherished for our going-out wear. It would be sad to see them go, but it is becoming more and more apparent that the world wasn’t ready for the hefty responsibility of skintight workout gear.

--Kelsey Hughes

PRO: There’s nothing wrong with wearing yoga pants in non-yoga-related happenings

If you’ve ventured outdoors within the last year or so, chances are you’ve seen women — or men, to be perfectly fair — in the skin-tight legwear known as yoga pants. Since their inception, they’ve inspired everything from contempt to fervent love, but lately they’ve struck a chord in mainstream culture.

Evidently, wearing them out and about rather than exclusively for yoga has become a more frequent, though not necessarily acceptable, occurrence. Some argue that the form-fitting attire is too revealing for multipurpose use, or that the fabric is virtually see-through and should be viewed as indecent (Lululemon recently had to recall some pants for being a little too thin and revealing).

While certain clothing standards are admittedly important for societies not operating under a nudism policy, we need to ask ourselves: Are yoga pants really all that bad?

The United States in particular loves to protest newfangled clothing styles. Consider the flappers of the 1920s. Though scandalous in their time, when compared to the typical garb of today, their style would look closer to that of convent members than sexual revolutionists.

It’s a safe bet American society will grow used to the idea of yoga pants. In 50 years, there’s a good chance they’ll even seem tame. Nonetheless, this controversy has presently brought out the worst in a few of its antagonists.

Some complain that the pants are being worn by women not only for comfort, but to cheaply catch the eye of the modest, vulnerable men they encounter. But since dressing to attract the opposite sex is not against any law, given certain body parts are covered, it might be time to put those patriarchal views to rest.

Then there’s the contention that because not everyone has a pair of perfect legs, only some women are qualified to wear the pants.

The fashion world has always included a generous helping of elitism, but it should be reserved for the upper echelons of style, if at all. In the end, no one is forcing anyone to look at the less aesthetic of yoga pant wearers.

None of this is to say, however, that yoga pants should immediately become acceptable as professional attire. Interviewing in your finest pair of Lululemons is certainly not recommended, but casual donning should not be grounds for judgment.

Granted, like sweatpants, a wardrobe full of yoga pants may be a sign of resignation-. As in anything else, moderation is crucial. But really, considering the national debt clock is set to hit $20 trillion in the not-so-distant future, yoga pants may be among the least of our problems.

In a time where Dennis Rodman is the United States’ best chance at avoiding a North Korean nuclear attack, reassessment of priorities seems to be in order.

--Joe Antoshak