Staring out the window onto State Street is one of my favorite ways to pass the hours blocked off as “study time.” Learning much more about society than I ever could in a sociology class (so I tell myself), I observe all sorts of phenomena, including the effects of alcohol on judgment, the consequences of wearing 5-inch heels in rain and the blatant disregard of the walk sign. Also from my window I can see what people are wearing, and, more importantly, what they’re not.

After several hours of “study,” I came to the sad conclusion that girls are not simply forgetting to put on pants in a reverse naked-at-school nightmare, but that they have, in fact, forgotten what pants are. Perhaps as an attempt to assert their individuality, hundreds of girls on this campus have boldly decided to forgo the bottoms widely accepted as adequate by society and opt instead for the flimsy spandex-lycra garments known as leggings.

Perplexed by this trend, I decided to do some research. I discovered that leggings have enjoyed one of the longest careers of any article of clothing on the fashion scene, with the first version being sported as early as the 14th century. Their evolution from hunting gear to snake repellent to undergarment has led to many a stylish outfit, but the second wave of their development has rapidly reversed their status as a fashion do. By rebelling against the convention of underwear, leggings have invaded the territory of pants, and girls on this campus are holding their stolen ground.

The choice to break with the conventional silhouette of a co-ed for a more, ahem, explicit shape is certainly not new, but has been spreading on campus like rumors in US Weekly. Look around you. If you don’t see at least five girls embracing the legging trend, you’re either in Van Vleck or missed your last optometrist’s appointment. Now look again, and ask yourself if any of the legging ensembles you’ve spotted make you say “damn” for the right reasons.

Contrary to popular belief, leggings are not pants. Say it with me – leggings are not pants. If your shadow looks naked from the waist down, you probably do too, and with reason. The female physique was not meant to be shown in such excruciating detail to the unsuspecting world. Its possible that a cutie from Chem lab is wondering whether you’re wearing a g-string or a thong today, but the other 99 percent of your class mates would prefer not to know. And before you say it, you can go ahead and throw out the argument that if they don’t like it they shouldn’t look: leggings, as pants, are a fashion car crash.

What is truly baffling about the new trend in how to wear leggings is what the appeal is to the wearer. Sure, the fabric is softer than denim, but so is velour, a fabric reserved for the ninth circle of hell in the fashion world. It’s also true that it’s easier to come by purple, red, or fluorescent leggings than it is to find those shades in a pant, but that leads one to ask what the hell kind of outfit you were planning if you were looking for those colors in the first place.

The last pro I can think of for leggings is that they can show off some hot-off-the-treadmill quads, but the catch is that they also show literally everything else – not a single ounce of cellulite can hide. And that old saying that black is slimming? It really doesn’t apply here. Sorry to disappoint.

Leggings have a place in the wardrobe. Their place is in the underwear drawer. Leggings, like cardigans, are great as transition pieces, but unlike cardigans, they go under, not over, your early fall garb. They can be a great way to add pop and warmth to a shorter dress, or even, dare I say it, a tunic. This is where the line gets hazy, but to clarify once and for all, a tunic is a top shorter than a dress that still covers your assets. Both of them.

If it doesn’t, it isn’t a tunic, and it doesn’t go with leggings. If you’re still unsure, to check if you’re wearing leggings appropriately, all you have to do is verify that the only place you can see your leggings is on your legs. If leggings weren’t intended to be worn this way, they would’ve named them pelvisandleggings. Thank them for not doing this by wearing leggings responsibly.

So by all means, keep wearing your leggings. With the weather turning nasty, they’ll be your going out clothes’ best friend. Just remember that leggings are not pants and you’ll be good to go. Maybe that cutie from Chem lab will even call you to answer his burning question for himself.

Allegra Dimperio ([email protected]) is a sophomore intending to major in journalism.