A trend is defined as (1) the general course or prevailing tendency and (2) style; vogue: the new trend in women’s approval. A phenomenon is defined as an unusual, significant or unaccountable fact or occurrence; a marvel. The recent fashion movement that accentuates the skin-clinging-here-is-my-butt-in-all-its-glory-am-I-going-to-aerobics-or-class-pants known as leggings, fits into the latter category of a phenomenon.

Of course, I knew that the celebrities would be wearing leggings when they first made a comeback in the beginning of the summer, along with the really cutting-edge fashionable girls – these were the girls who were the first to wear that little Australian surfing shoe now known universally by all women, men, children and farm animals as the Ugg. However, now it seems that when walking around a college campus, there are legging-wearers everywhere, and not just under skirts as was the original style. Now they are worn with tunics, long wrap sweaters, dresses and unfortunately, small tees. Let us just remember leggings are basically long underwear, so when you wear leggings with nothing covering your ass area, it is basically like you just left the house in underwear – and that is really only acceptable on D-day. Just remember, most of us are not Nicole Richie – the only person on whom leggings are actually baggy (I swear to God she is going to die in two weeks if she does not eat half a cookie).

What is really amazing about how popular this leggings trend is its sheer ubiquitous nature. Why did this trend work while something like the whole skull-adorned accessories and tees – except of course for on National Dress like a Pirate Day – did not succeed? Perhaps it is because skulls are really ugly – no offense to any pirate enthusiasts – and not embraced by our culture as much as the aerobics look. Jane Fonda, the maharishi of spandex, was basically looked at as a god in the ’80s by all hyperactive housewives. In the ’80s it was all about aerobics and Tupperware.

Leggings have most likely become so popular because they are cheap, comfortable, look good with flats and make all girls feel a little like Madonna in the height of her “Desperately Seeking Susan” days – this was pre-Material girl, pre-geometric bra, pre-sex book with Vanilla Ice, pre-now I am a serious actress playing Evita so please forget that I did a sex book with Vanilla Ice, pre-I want to be Asian now, pre-I have scarily ripped arms because I only eat macrobiotic magic Kaballah food and do yoga all day, pre-I am almost 50 and look how good I look in a leotard – hey, what do you know, she is back to leggings. It’s like a ring of light.

Leggings are also great for fall because if you don’t want to make a full commitment of wearing real pants (because there are some days where the idea to pants is just too strenuous), they are good for this transition phase. Plus, everyone looks like they could be in the new Gap commercial with a freakishly imposed Audrey Hepburn dancing to “Back in Black” with AC/DC. It’s fun. I do it every morning before I do the OK Go treadmill dance.

My real belief why leggings have caught on is that, though women are constantly criticized for being slaves to fashion and sacrificing comfort for haute couture, the two biggest trends in the last five years have actually been very practical and wearable. Uggs, though most boys hate them and tell us they look like horse hooves, keep us warm and dry in the snow and I think provide a very cute Nordic shepardess look, as opposed to something like stilettos, which encourage the foot to be as vertical as possible. And now there are leggings, finally breaking free from the ’80s and their temporary stint as work-out clothes.

Again, the male sex is perplexed by our fashion choices. One of my guy friends asked madly, “Why?! Why are they wearing the leggings under the skirt? That defeats the purpose of the skirt.” While another friend, a biking enthusiast, told me it was good that I just bought a bike because “bicycle shorts are popular right now.” Well, at least he noticed they are popular. If we can just convince them to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” with us, then the world will be a happy place.

Lepore can be reached at mlepore@campustimes.org.

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