Ever since Bella Hadid ate pizza in her tighty whiteys and platform Uggs, it was clear that more underwear as outerwear would be coming in 2023. Kylie Jenner soon followed suit in Loewe for Paris Fashion Week, as well as Emily Ratajakowski, revealing her thong in a mermaidcore see-through netted dress. The sheer trend that dominated in 2022 is no stranger to showing off the thong, but when Kendall Jenner wore opaque stockings with nothing but underwear, a sweater, and a bouquet of sunflowers, it was the dawn of an entirely new fad: tights worn as pants.
All over social media, Jenner’s look became inspo for wearing a bodysuit—no pants included. As statement tights continue to rage with the ballet flat resurgence, you could argue this is just the newest reiteration of ballerina fashion. Creative director of kitten, Kate Bowman, who recently posted herself in tights as pants to Instagram, shared with Byrdie, “I wore a black tank top paired with black underwear from my brand Kitten over opaque tights to attend Celine at the Wiltern. I wanted to make a statement with my look.”
The daring styling choice nods to iconic fashion references like playboy bunnies in their infamous uniform (satin bodysuits with bunny ears) and “ballerinas in films like Suspiria and figure skating uniforms,” says Bowman. The trend also has its roots '60s dance culture and Old Hollywood.
“Jane Birkin in a sequin leotard and tophat at a party in the '60s, the photoshopped underwear on Brigitte Bardot in the Japanese promotional posters for Le Mépris, the dancing neighbor in Rear Window—there's a voyeuristic element to the style. When you see a beautiful person at a party, sometimes you picture them in their underwear,” says Bowman.
This isn't the first trend that subverts everyday wear. Scantily clad fashion continues to rise with sheer dresses, bodysuits, and micro-minis dominating runways and red carpets and recent years. Mugler even collaborated with Wolford to release an avant-garde “skinwear” last year, ranging from catsuits and bodysuits to tights oftentimes styled as pants. Not to mention, brands with cult followings, such as praying, are styling see-through tights as pants and showing thongs. Nylons are also in the mix, whether patterns, rips, and bows at home, bright colors on the runway, and viral outfits on social media.
Content creator Madison Rae, who recently tried out the trend, notes how going pants-free is a perfect nighttime look, especially if you want to push outside of your comfort zone. “Honestly, I kept seeing it mentioned on TikTok as a trend for 2023—and as a fashion girlie, I had to try it for myself,” says the TikToker. Rae shared a video of herself wearing Wolford tights and a black bodysuit, styling the ensemble with a Frankie Shop blazer. "I finished the look off with some sky-high Valentino platforms to elongate my legs even more,” Rae tells Byrdie.
Of course, wearing no pants in public is a bold fashion choice, but it gives a little dash of danger and the unexpected to a night out. Here's to pushing sartorial boundaries in 2023.