Work From Home Style Diary: The Leggings vs. Jeans Debate

Working from home is not a new concept. But working from home during the coronavirus pandemic is uncharted territory. Even for those who are able to work from home, what to wear may seem like the last priority. But our clothing and footwear choices may help to protect us, to feel more productive, to feel more active — or to just comfort us in an uncertain time.

In my last Work From Home Style Diary, I discussed the multitasking benefits of wearing leggings during the day. But I’m still wanting an outfit that makes me feel more official, more professional — and probably, more productive. I’ve invited my fellow FN editor Nikara Johns to debate the pros and cons of America’s favorite non-pant pants — or if real pants (including jeans) are still the key to a normal work day.

Shannon Adducci: Leggings versus jeans is a pretty hot topic in the work-from-home fashion conversation, isn’t it? What camp are you in?

Nikara Johns: I’m the leggings girl, clearly.

SA: Yesterday I did a segment on wearing leggings for the purpose of multitasking. I’m having a hard time figuring out when to work out. So I tried it out.

NJ: I have been trying to get some walks in, doing squats and lunges in during the day when I can. I’m not going to change from pajamas to jeans to leggings, back to jeans and then pajamas. That’s changing five times — that’s too much back and forth. I’m just not going to do it.

SA: Can we establish that pajamas are not allowed?

NJ: I think that’s the biggest thing, to change [when you wake up].

SA: When I was working from home as a freelancer, before the pandemic, I wore pajamas at first. You wear them and it’s a guilty pleasure. But then you feel like a hot mess after a while.

NJ: I have worked from home before and worn the pajamas. You just feel gross when you’re in them.

SA: Then I graduated from pajamas to sweatpants. But it wasn’t enough. So I settled on jeans — and here’s my main argument: There are studies that have been done that show if someone puts on a piece of clothing that is related to their profession, they feel and are more productive while working remotely. For me, jeans hit that point.

NJ: I wear jeans pretty much every day normally. I love them. But I put on a pair yesterday and I changed out of them as soon as I got out of my video interview. At first I felt good, I felt productive. But where was I going for the day? From my bed to my desk — not far! As soon as I was done, I put on leggings. Also, I think people dress how they feel. I’ve also been wearing a lot of black, subconsciously, I think. Today I’m wearing a black sweatshirt by Adidas, black leggings by Under Armour, and these are Asics running shoes. It just gives you that movability during the day. I can easily go for a walk around my neighborhood.

SA: If you’re trying to fit a workout in, leggings are much easier. It’s really weird to do push-ups in jeans.

NJ: Look, I will admit that I’m the person who wears workout clothes and doesn’t work out. [The workouts] have not been every day.

SA: It feels very L.A. — wearing the workout clothes all day. Maybe you’ll go on a hike, maybe not.

NJ: The whole point is that you’re ready for anything.

SA: What I’m wearing is actually an outfit you’ve seen me wear to the office. This is the first time I have worn a real pair of shoes, and it feels really good. It’s nicer out today, the sun is shining so I was feeling up for it. I’m wearing high-rise jeans, a puffed-sleeve wrap top, a pair of G.H. Bass Weejuns with hearts on them.

NJ: I don’t think people will be upset with those. They aren’t high heels.

SA: I think what people are upset about is the belt. My friends have already told me it’s too much.

NJ: I mean, the jeans are already a lot. But a belt?!

SA: I always wear a belt with my jeans! And really, I feel so much better about what I’m wearing today. I feel like I’m going to be more productive.

NJ: Well look, J-Lo doesn’t wear jeans, and she’s pretty productive.

SA: You’re going to pull the J-Lo card?

NJ: Also, Sophie Turner was on Conan O’Brien last night and she said she was making fun of her husband Joe Jonas because he has been wearing jeans. She had the same argument: No one really sees you. And I’m not one to waste an outfit.

SA: But don’t you also get dressed for yourself? I get dressed for myself. Wearing a pair of jeans makes me feel better. That’s ultimately why I wear them. I know that no one is going to see them in a Zoom video.

NJ: One other problem: I’m not at my apartment, I’m at my parent’s house in Connecticut, so I only have a few pairs of shoes with me. I have my running shoes — and I’m not going to wear them with jeans. I think I have a few more years in me to not have to do that!

SA: I know that there are only so many types of shoes you can wear with jeans, especially indoors. My loafers work. I guess I could also wear them with leggings though. Before this pandemic, leggings were already the most popular item of clothing for Americans. It’s incredible how they’ve taken over, and I think they’ll only become more popular.

NJ: They just make you feel more comfortable in the situation we are in.

SA: And really that’s the most important thing, to feel comfortable right now. If leggings make you feel comfortable, and if it helps with your health in that you’re getting a workout or run in, that’s the most important thing. Wear what makes you feel better — whether that’s physical, emotional or in terms of confidence. That’s what matters right now.

NJ: That’s really the answer — there is no answer. Wear what you want!

Shop Shannon’s Look

work from home fashion, other stories, puff sleeve
Other Stories tie-waist blouse.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Other Stories

To buy: Other Stories tie-waist blouse, $89

agolde jeans, work from home fashion, style diary
Agolde '90s jeans.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue

To buy: Agolde ’90s High-Rise Jeans, $149 (was $198)

bass, bass weejuns, loafers, work from home fashion, style diary
G.H. Bass & Co. Whitney calf hair loafers.
CREDIT: Courtesy of G.H. Bass & Co.

To buy: G.H. Bass Whitney Calf Hair Weejuns, $80 (was $130)

zara, zara belt, belt buckle, work from home fashion, style diary
Zara sculpted belt.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zara

To buy: Zara sculptural belt, $30

Shop Nikara’s Look

Adidas logo sweatshirt
Adidas crew sweatshirt.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

To Buy: Adidas Originals Crew Sweatshirt, $43 (was $60).

Under Armour Rush Leggings
Under Armour Rush leggings.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

To Buy: Under Armour Rush Leggings, $70.


Asics Dynaflyte 3 sneakers
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

To Buy: Asics Dynaflyte 3, $80 (was $130).

All products featured have been independently selected and curated by our editorial team. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn commission and the retailer may receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.

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