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Do leggings under skirts really look that bad?

The question

When the weather gets a little cooler, a lot of women wear calf-length black leggings under their skirts. My husband is not a fan of the look. What do guys have against it?

The answer

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I'm with your husband. I don't get this style at all. I understand that it's a comfortable compromise between tights and bare feet and that not everyone is proud of their knees for a variety of reasons. But footless tights are athletic wear, not grown-up outfits. They are fine in a dance studio. Out of doors, they are, like their male equivalent, sweatpants, practical but unflattering.

And the calf-length ones are the worst. Short leggings (just like capri-length narrow pants, by the way) have the effect of shortening the leg. They cut the leg in two with a horizontal line in the middle of the otherwise lovely curve of calf. Why do that? They look strangely prudish, too, under a skirt. If it's warm enough to go sockless, is it not warm enough to go tightless? Choose real tights or none at all. If you are concerned about baring too much leg, why not just wear a longer skirt?

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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