There's a delicious chill in the air these days, heralding crunchy leaves and football games and steaming mugs of cider served around a bonfire. Across University City, students are lingering between classes, bundled in hoodies and scarves, giddy about the back to school season. It's enough to make me wish for a do-over of my undergrad years...almost.
Because the fall chill also heralds the return of tights.
Let me be clear: I love tights. Adore them! I personally own at least two-dozen pair. There is nothing wrong with reaching for a good pair of opaque tights when the fall fashion season hits.
Unless you choose to wear them as pants.
Friends, tights are not pants. They never have been and never will be. No matter what the mannequins at Gap are modeling this season. No matter what your friend's older sister who made it to the final casting of Project Runway tells you. No matter what Lindsay Lohan is wearing in the tabloids. (And, um, if Lindsay is wearing them, shouldn't you already know better?)
For the uninitiated, allow me to present a brief tutorial. What are tights? Tights are undergarments. They are sold in little plastic packages. They have a reinforced cotton crotch, just like panties. Tights are not leggings. They are not skinny jeans. They are not those adorable cigarette pants Audrey Hepburn wore in the 50's. Tights were never intended to be worn without a skirt or dress covering your derriere, and unless you pirouette for a living, there is absolutely no reason to do so.
This isn't news. As the tights-as-pants epidemic has grown, fashion-minded folk across the world have raised the alarm and rallied supporters. There are entire web sites dedicated to this issue, and you can even download a free flyer to help spread the word. With all of this discussion, you'd think the message would have hit the masses, loud and clear.
But when I clicked on one of my favorite fashion retail sites today, guess what I saw on the splash page? Tights as pants. And not just any tights, mind you. Designer tights. Tights that cost more than the average college student makes in a month at her work-study job.
After letting out a yelp loud enough to send a colleague running into my office, I decided it was time to take action. I mean, how can we expect the youth of America to get the message when our leading retailers are openly encouraging such behavior? I am only one person. I already have a full-time job. I can't be responsible for having firm yet compassionate conversations with every misguided co-ed I happen to stumble across on my way to Starbucks.
Philly, I need your help. No matter who you are, there is something you can do to fight this fashion crisis.
Parents: If you have a teenage daughter, don't allow her to leave the house half-dressed. Ask if any of her Facebook friends have suggested she wear tights as pants, and then suggest she unfriend them immediately. Present fun and appropriate alternatives such as dresses, skirts, or actual pants, and offer positive reinforcement when she leaves for school wearing said garments.
Neighbors: Don't let that otherwise adorable girl in your building walk outside in nothing more than an oversized t-shirt and tights. Kindly pull her aside, and direct her attention to the fact that you can tell what color underwear she's selected that day. Need back-up? Present her with a full-length mirror.
Teachers: You have a dress code at your school, right? Consider adding an addendum that requires all pants to be actual pants. It seems ridiculous, but let's be honest - it's certainly not the most ridiculous thing you've heard so far today, is it? Use your power wisely, and perhaps the next generation will return tights to their rightful place as undergarments.
Women of Philadelphia: Please lead by example and enjoy your tights responsibly. Keep them under your real clothes. Tell a friend. Counsel a fellow shopper. Take your fashion-challenged sister to lunch and stage an intervention. Be kind, but hold to your convictions. If ever there was a time for tough love, this is it.
Together, we can rid our city of tights as pants. And let's not stop there. Look out, flip flops as formal wear! You're next.
Lauren Hall is a writer who would never wear tights as pants.