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Men in Tights: Tips

Posted by Filed Under: Gear & Apparel, Outerwear, Running is Funny

robinhood.jpgWomen tend to have their body image issues during the warm weather months, but some of us guys have ours during the winter. We stave off facing them as long as possible by wearing our singlets and shorts even when the temperatures approach freezing, then we surrender only as far as switching to a long-sleeve shirt. We add hats, ear muffs, gloves and scarves until the day finally comes when we have to make a decision about our lower halves.

The die-hards will stick with shorts regardless, and I’ve tried sweatpants, warm-up pants and loose-fit running pants, all of which were bothersome for a variety of reasons. So, a couple of years back I tried a pair of running tights. I liked them a lot. There was no extra material flapping around, there were no sweat or chafing problems, they really kept my legs warm, and the compression effect was an added bonus.

But it was a difficult sell because, well, they’re called tights for a reason.

Guys will do almost anything to avoid looking ridiculous—though we still manage to accomplish that task with frightening frequency. Running tights are also problematic because we’re deathly afraid we’re violating the guy code big time.

It’s an ego risk to wear them, no matter what, but I’ve developed these helpful hints to minimize your discomfort while enjoying the benefits of this useful apparel:

  • Dark colors only. Black or navy blue. Under no circumstances wear white, yellow or lime green. Designs will only draw attention to you.
  • Shirt length. Shirt outside the tights, hip length. Modest without being dorky.
  • Underwear? No definitive answer for this one. You won’t need them for support, but peace of mind is paramount here. That’s why the final tip is the most crucial one.
  • Seek a woman’s counsel. Not as easy as it sounds. Women are used to providing support and affirmation when asked about how clothing looks. No woman ever says to another, “Your butt looks HUGE in that!” You need a woman who will level with you. Even then, don’t pay attention to what she says as much as the look on her face.

If she looks uncomfortable while she asks, “Well, how do you like them?” it’s time to go in a different direction. On the other hand, if she raises her eyebrows and makes a growling sound in the back of her throat, it’s very flattering but probably not the kind of reaction you want for running gear. (Don’t be an idiot, though. Save them for wearing around the house.)

A conscientious woman will also provide free periodic updates to her assessment, and will not hesitate to tell you when it’s time to choose an alternative.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to wear running tights without undue anxiety or drawing attention to yourself, unless, for some reason, you’re trying to.

About Mike Antonucci

I ran 6-minute miles when I was in the military, then tapered for 20 years. Two-time marathoner (3:43 PR), my next goal is to stay healthy enough to run another. There are literally thousands of people handing out running advice and serious tips. I prefer to focus on the humorous or odd facets of our shared obsession. Let's face it, running is funny.



29 Comments
  1. sasper on January 11th at 6:32 am

    How about a pair of shorts on top of running tights? That’s what I typically do with the biking spandex. I’m a big guy (6’4″, 230lbs) and would definitely not look flattered by some tights!

  2. Kent A on January 11th at 7:12 am

    Absolutely on the shorts idea. That’s the only way to wear tights in mixed company. I know no one wants to see any package of mine. So it might be dorky, but give me a pair of loose fitting shorts overtop for modesty sake.

  3. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on January 11th at 7:16 am

    I’m supposed to care what people think about what I’m wearing when I run? Whoops.

    Seriously, though, I will dress to the weather. I normally wear shorts because I’m honestly quite warm when I am running. I have some loose running pants that I can wear over my shorts when it is cold that work very well, so I normally use those. If it is sleeting, raining, or I’ll be running through knee deep snow I will bust out the running tights. They do the best job of keeping my legs warm in those conditions.

    I always go w/the briefs under them. If I don’t, then I get some chafage in an uncomfortable place where the wind might manage to bite through. When I was in college, I would also wear my gym shorts as a third layer since any time that I bothered with tights I really needed that area protected. The joys of running along lake Ontario in the winter…

    I run with the shirt tucked in. That keeps drafts from getting up to my belly, and I’d rather be comfortable than fashionable. Besides, I have a nice butt, why not show it off to the ladies driving by? Realistically, though, if I am running with tights on it is probably cold enough that I have a top layer such as a pullover that does hang down and isn’t tucked in.

    As for colors and designs, it never even occurred to me to get tights in any color other than black. I didn’t realize that they made men’s running tights in other colors. For designs, I would buy some if the designs were reflective and made me more visible at night. I already look like an idiot with my bright yellow pullover, headlamp and the flashing light on my arm. If they keep me from getting hit by a car again, then I’m all for the designs on the legs.

    Right now, though, I only have straight black tights.

  4. crossn81 on January 11th at 7:21 am

    I typically wear a pair of my “skimpiest” running shorts underneath instead of underwear. I think the extra support is important and the “skimpiness” of the shorts help keep them hidden and comfortable under the tights.

    PS I don’t wear tights very often!

  5. Ian on January 11th at 8:46 am

    I stick to the warm ups and loose fitting pants. I’m probably not fast enough or running far enough for it to be an issue yet.

  6. Mark Iocchelli on January 11th at 8:58 am

    In Canada (eh!), tights are your friend. It’s just an impossibility to run without them in the winter. I suppose I *could* wear ski pants but that’d be a bit cumbersome!

  7. running private on January 11th at 9:12 am

    I’m all about the modesy saving shorts over the tights.

    I do remember being at a track in France and seeing a guy running around in bright orange tights, “good god man, have you no shame”

  8. Mom On The Run on January 11th at 12:29 pm

    There’s nothing sexier than a man in tights, but then again, I’m Canadian.

  9. Greg on the Run on January 12th at 11:42 am

    I looked all over to find something long to run in. Most tights and sweatpants are way too long for me. I have duck legs – very short. I finally found a pair of running pants from Under Armour that zipped tight enough at the ankle to keep them off my shoes and yet don’t feel particularly baggy. I wear shorts underneath because in my neck of the hoods I may or may not need the pants when traveling 10 miles to the coast to run with my running partners.

  10. Lance on January 12th at 2:02 pm

    I just finished a 14 mile run in Juneau, Ak in the snow. I wear CW-X insulator tights on all my winter runs and they are awesome. They really make a difference in the fatigue factor on long runs. Shorts over your tights is NOT a good look. You guys doing that, heed the advice of the article and ask your wife or girlfriend for some advice. We all have the same basic equipment down there and everyone else knows exactly what it looks like anyway, so it’s not a big shock to people if you’re johnson is visible through the tights. Get over it. Happy running.

  11. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on January 12th at 3:04 pm

    If it makes you feel any better, I added a bunch of holes to my tights this morning on my run, so now they must look more “manly” – if only I didn’t have to scrape off as many layers of skin underneath it in the process…

    Oh well, at least I didn’t slide over the cliff edge.

  12. Huw on January 22nd at 7:54 am

    Lycra shorts under tights – run shorts just bunch up and it looks like you have baaad cellulite – not an impression any man wants to give.
    There are different weights of fabric and tightness of tights, and as a longtime devoted tights wearer, I can assure everyone that you need to be very lean in the leg to get away with sheer and tight fabric; whereas a heavy thermal fabric has less give and a bit more drape, as they say in the industry, and is more forgiving. In the UK we have had for decades the ubiquitous Ron Hill Trackster, a half-way house between track bottoms and tights, and I, like many, cut my tights-wearing teeth on them.
    In the UK we mope around in sober colours, but across the Channel they like a) new season’s kit b) matching sets c) a bit of colour, and all those apply to choice of tights. We think they look ridiculous. They think we look like dull scrooges.

  13. Eco Friendly on September 6th at 8:24 am

    Check out my green blog http://www.cipacs.org

  14. Cindi on October 27th at 10:19 pm

    HI. My husband wears tights and his butt is mighty cute in them. If you have a fit body, go for it fellas. If not, that’s okay too…us ladies just won’t look so much. In any case, stay with dark colors.

  15. ben on March 10th at 1:44 pm

    yeah i wear tights they feel amazing in cold weather

  16. gray on March 14th at 11:27 am

    yes ladies and men, i wear tights. i wear them in the winter under my jeans at times as they fit much better than longjohns, and they don’t put my balls up around my chin like longjohns do. i even have some that i can wear out in the public. when i wear those ones they are black and i wear a thong under them so there are no lines or bunch up on the legs or on my tight little round ass. they also fit my fit slender legs beautifuly. i get a lot of completmentary comments from the ladies and comments from men that they wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them. i tell the men to get with the program and live a little. the only thing is wear dark colours, like black or dark blue, and a little flare at the ankle if you want to wear in the public. and don’t worry about the other people they are jellous as they don’t “go for it”. i’m from manitoba,canada, we do things a we bit different in canada than other places might. so for you ladies that wear tights please keep it up and don’t stop, i love the veiw, and you men get over it and “go for it” as if your lady friends or wives are open, they will love you in them. thanx for your time. just ” go for it”

  17. l-mo on March 25th at 7:45 pm

    I wear tights for running but nothing under them? No way. There are plenty of options for support briefs or thongs for men and if you want better support, try a dance belt. Those are supporters for male dancers that provide support, modesty, and no lines. Luckily you can buy them online and don’t have to wander into a dancewear store.

    I think it’s pretty offensive to see a guy in tights and see his manhood showing as well. It reeks too much of exhibitionism. Some kind of support undergarment helps guard against that.

  18. Koz on March 28th at 3:30 pm

    i prefer tights over shorts anyday. Even in the summer on the hottest of days, you can purchase tights that keep you cool, moisture wicking. The compression and freedom of tights makes them more comfortable over flappy shorts. As for the color / underwear discussion …. choose the color you want, and underwear is NOT needed if you have a good pair. I have never had any discomfort from not wearing undies, and as mentioned, tights offer enough support. If you dont like the look of tights on guys, dont wear them, or dont look. Athletic performance wear is just that …. its not a fashion show people.

  19. Jim on May 2nd at 6:29 pm

    I wear tights. No shorts over them. What’s the point of that? Isn’t the point of tights to not have flapping fabric. I like the flexibility, muscle support. As for the modesty issue. Well, when you are running in blakc tights and have a shirt that comes down a bit, its pretty hard to get a realy close view of the package. Whats more, we all have them, so get over it. Finally, if you are a runner, chances are your body is fit. Be proud of it.

  20. Jason on August 18th at 11:49 am

    Indeed, shorts over tights, that just defeats the purpose doesn’t it? I wear short tights in summer and calf length tights in winter. No flappin’ creepin’ fabric around my legs! I do wear underwear though, for just hat little bit of added support and as someone said: it makes your package look more presentable.

    Then again, I’m Dutch…

  21. Bill on October 6th at 8:53 pm

    I have been wearing Lycra tights over my padded cycling shorts when riding and I find the compression helps keep my legs from cramping and I no longer experience soreness the next day. It may look goofy, but like Koz said, this isn’t a fashion show.

    With cycling, Lycra is essential and not really an option. Many of us start out wearing loose shorts over the Lycra only to give up on them after a few rides. You quickly realize that they do nothing but get in the way. I have had some rude comments spewed out toward me and it doesn’t help that I am a big guy (trying my darnedest to lose weight), but I make sure that the shirt or jacket I’m wearing is long enough to cover down to my mid/upper thigh. So nothing is showing. I have learned to ignore those rude comments and just keep pushing along.

    I’m not sure what everyone is spending on tights, but I have found them to be very expensive. I have been lucky to find some Lycra tights and shorts in resale/thrift shops for $3.00 or less. The style may be a bit older and most of them are the shiny Lycra, but at that price, why complain? I just wash them a few times before I wear them and they are fine.

    It’s sad that so many people are critical of what anyone wears. Tights are comfortable and very functional, so wear them and don’t give darn what the ignorant, snooty fashion cops think.

  22. Richie on December 7th at 10:20 am

    I’m an avid orienteer (not that good at it though!) and full leg coverage is a must, hence my choice in wearing tights.

    However, I have to disagree with the “Dark colors only”. The problem is I still haven’t found ANYWHERE in the UK that sells more ‘interesting’ colours. I have had to import my selection of running tights from the US (http://www.runningfunky.com/store52/agora.cgi?product=sample), which occasionally occurs import tax!!!!

    If anyone knows of a similar site in th UK…….please tell

  23. TNJ Underwear on January 4th at 11:15 pm

    Ok, I wouldn’t wear tights out in public as a fashion statement but I’d cycle with tights. That’s as far as I would go with tights. Don’t get me wrong it was hot back in the days but not in today’s fashion.

  24. PM Runner on January 6th at 11:16 am

    I run competitively and always wear tights because they are comfortable and keep my leg muscles warm in cool or rainy weather. I don’t like loose clothing flapping around. Just like when I do cycling, I like the streamlined, non-bulky feeling of tights and a fitted running shirt. Maybe it’s also just mental, but I feel more athletic when I’m wearing proper running tights and I think I perform better. And my wife says I look good in them. She sometimes comments that when wearing tights I look “well endowed” so I wear an athletic thong jock under the tights to keep my package supported and so I don’t show too much detail up front.

  25. O SULEYMAN on January 22nd at 9:02 pm

    I dont see why there is any concideration other than what is most comfortable for the activity in question. In moderate to cold weather I prefer tights (cw-x) when running. wearing shorts over tights doesnt make sense performance-wise. I admit to having been a little self concious originally but grew up to the fact that it is not a fashion issue. If you are running, what observer has time to consider the finer details of what may be discernable? I would’ntt hang around town in my running gear but cannot be worried about being ‘revealing’ durning a serious run.

  26. Frank on February 14th at 5:52 pm

    I like wearing tights, no shorts. They are comfortable and the compression makes me feel better for a much longer run. I am fit, as most serious runners are, so I suppose I am not hurting anyone’s eyes. But, if they are prudish about it, they needn’t look.

  27. ellen1 on February 25th at 11:27 am

    From a woman’s point of view tights do look good b/c 1. the man is confident 2. athletes have nice bodies, I think masculine men look masculine in most clothes, esecially functional clothes for exercise. There is nothing wrong with a man in running tights, if they have the sculptured legs and bum they can look the best. [Male Ballet dancers look fantastic]
    My b/f is athletic and wears tights for runs with a thong underneath to contain all his “male-ness”. He’s VERY well endowed and shows quite a nice bulge…not offensive in my opinion. His bum looks great too…nice and tight! I’m not offended or embarassed…I’m proud!!!

  28. STEVE on June 20th at 10:26 am

    i am 50 years old and dont have a bad body at all , and i love wearing my black tights out in public , as they are so comfortable to wear, I often get some looks from red necks I guess and it can be stressful at times, but i do continue, i am not a gay man in any way, but I think some people assume you are I guess, and that is odd….. most women seem to be attracted to look at me more strangely enough when i wear my black tights…. especially whn i go grocery shopping across the street, or am tajing the bus from montreal to toronto, you just have to be careful if you fall asleep on the bus and things grow or get fatter if you know what i mean…lol

  29. Mark on August 17th at 10:51 am

    I was shopping for more running tights and came across this site. What an odd read.

    I wear shorts over my black tights. I have seen many people do the same. I don’t care what complete strangers driving past me think about my running apparel. I’m not out here to win a beauty contest or impress women. I am out here to run.

    If vanity is such an issue for you folks then perhaps you shouldn’t be jogging around others. This is why I am not friends with runners or exercise-enthusiasts. It’s rare I run across one that is not image-obessed or merely runs outdoors just because they believe they are a piece of eye candy that no woman could resist. Ugh.

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