The White-Leggings Conundrum

Spring has finally sprung in the Netherlands; the birds are chirping, the sun is shining and the skies are an unfamiliar blue colour. People on the streets are actually smiling at each other in passing and less elbows are being thrown on the metro and at the Albert Hein. All in all, the people of the lowlands are in a good place, a happy place, a place where they feel comfortable enough to wake up in the morning, look into their closets and zestfully throw on their favourite spring outfits.

The sisterhood of white pants

The sisterhood of white pants

But with the arrival of spring smiles and sunshine, one particularly nasty national fashion faux-pas has again reared its ugly head (or should I say “legs”). We’ve spoken at length about the Dutch male’s fascination with the orange and red pants and their love of the goop but Dutch women are not so innocent themselves. It’s high time to meet the red pant’s ugly stepsister: the white legging!

The white legging is miraculously fashionable in the lowlands. Its presence is disturbingly ubiquitous. I tried my best to overlook it while strolling the sunny streets yesterday, but it just wouldn’t leave me alone. There it was, all over the place, mockingly parading itself with pride; most often coupled with an ill-fitting short denim skirt and giving me the stink eye at every turn. The worst offenders managed to top off the look with brown boots, some sort of Desigual mess and that signature red-from-the-box short choppy mullet-like haircut (yes, you know the one)!

I couldn’t decide if it was the white legging that was so offensive in itself or the sheer volume of the pale-legged clones roaming the streets. So many questions, so little time: Why was the white legging so popular amongst the Dutch? Was it based on its convenience for biking? Why then the poor colour choice? (Black would do the trick). Didn’t Dutch women know that skin-tight white is never flattering? As a rule, white pants and leggings should be reserved for those working in the health and/or dental sector. They have no place trotting on the streets.

Of course, things could be worse. While in Canada I noticed the disturbing trend of leggings-worn-without-a-dress-or-skirt-which-makes-me-think-I-am-looking-at-your-bare-bum. I gasped as I saw hoards of girls and grown women (!) who apparently forgot to finish dressing before they left the house. Let us collectively pray that this trend doesn’t cross the ocean blue…as we know the white legging will take this trend to an even scarier place!

118 Responses

  1. Steffen M. Boelaars

    is all I need to say.
    HEAR HEAR!!!
    The ridiculous short hair. The horrific red hair. The disgusting white leggings. The disgraceful footwear. The offending inability to match clothing. It really is something.
    I jumped over to the UK actually. And the trend of forgetting a skirt over the legging has arrived here already, which is even worse given the amount of obesity present here. But at least the leggings aren’t white…
    But oh well… bad fashion is still fashion.

    • Victoria

      So true! Especially the part about the brown boots, denim mini skirt and “Desigual mess” 🙂 I occasionally wear dark leggings with a long sweater in the winter but never understood why Dutch women can’t seem to wear a dress or skirt without adding leggings.

      • marisa

        simply because is quite cold almost the whole year…but leggins can be fashionable if wear wiht style, no white and the rest of the outfit must be good also.

      • Lieke

        Probably because most of these women are a bit oversized and not wearing leggings wil give you an uncomfortable feeling when your inner thighs(?) touch when you walk. And they’re insecure about their leggs.
        And bikes.

      • dinie

        Yes, it is to cold! I am from Holland and some woman here are not permitted, because of religious reasons, to where pants. When you have to go by bike for about one hour…. you love thick panty’s…. leggings are most more thick than panty’s and so the choise is easy. It depends if I like it or not…. fat legs need long skirts and sure no legging!! Certainly not in rosa… looking if they where nothing! For young girls in good shape… looks a kind of funny! Sneakers are more in shape than slippers… but this is my taste. As a guide in Kinderdijk I see lots of people passing bye… all countries having their own specialities…. Fun!

    • Lux

      Gasp! WOMEN with SHORT hair? Forgetting their SKIRTS? You’re a keeper.

    • Esther van den Zande


      Waarom horrific read hair? .. do not come to breda on the red hair days will you

  2. Maria

    I don’t understand Dutch people’s fascination for anything white. My ex HAD to wear white clothing as soon as the weather was deemed acceptable. According to him, it accentuated his [non-existent] tan. Seriously [Dutch] people, you are becoming a sight for sore eyes, all dressed in white.
    When it comes to white leggings, one simply cannot say anything positive about it. Especially the cheap, sheer ones with a ‘lacy’ ruffle underneath. It makes me shudder.

    • Arie

      Well, that makes sense. If you wear clothes whiter than your skin, it will certainly look more tanned… I guess…

      • Maria

        Maybe, instead it gave him a pasty parlour. At least make use of tanning salons, eeish.

    • Gerard

      I agree, I prefer orange. Gerard, The Hague Holland

    • Retty

      The obsession with white clothing makes me cringe. I see it all the time, seeming normal people wearing unnecessary leggings. It has also spread to the youth- I was at the ijsalon with my daughter, and a group of teenagers rocked up in white leggings and jackets! My heart began to ache- not the children you guys

  3. Dutch Dynamite

    Well Dutch… I think you may categorize these people as either baby-boomers/seniors or people that enjoy listening to ”The Toppers” in their free time. In regard to the last category, their taste for clothing is not the only thing that’s wrong.

    Anyway, I find it very amusing however that someone from the Northern American continent is criticizing us Europeans on fashion 😉

    • LunamasK

      Hahah good one…my sentiments exactly! …on the boomers, seniors and Toppers-lovers
      Especially on the American fashion police hahaha…if anyone only wears black overthere you must be a Goth….On the continent black is stylish but what american would recognize thát?!

      • Stacey

        You have obviously never been to NYC

    • Julia

      Yes but this doesn’t make this article an unvalid critique! They may be a minority but I’m sure there are Americans with good taste 😉

      Kisses from Paris (where white leggings are hardly to be seen, yay)

    • Nara Rai

      no dear , not European fashion , DUTCH fashion. LOL
      Green leggings
      Purple Skirt
      Pink shirt
      Brown uggs
      Black hate
      Orange jacket
      Yellow scarf

      That’s what she is talking about …..the color blind Dutch women …oh and I forgot to write:
      hair like they just came out of bed
      Dry hands & skin
      Pillow marks still on their face & the sleep gunk in their eyes ….
      fighting to take a place in the tram so they can use their HEMA make-up to fix up their look
      The issue here is not the brand , its not knowing what the heck they are doing …..
      Mascara on the lids
      lipstick around the mouth
      blush the places where no women should put…

      • jodivankeeken2012

        Amen to what you said !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Jo

        Well, maybe we DUTCH people aren´t all that obsessed with LOOKS and HOW ONE IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK according to SOME people. I mean WHO decides it but the one who wears it…….

      • P. Bain

        That is just too judgmental for words. I was born there and raised to believe that clothes and makeup were just outward signs. Didn’t anyone ever think that there are more important things?

      • Mary

        What I am learning here is that the Dutch would be very comfortable in Seattle.

  4. Jasper

    Perhaps one of the big dutch dance festivals, Sensation White, has rubbed off on what is acceptable clothing? 😉

  5. Alexandra

    This is the dumbest article I have read in a very long time!
    Nothing funny to say? Then don’t say anything at all!

  6. chris

    Hi, i’ve been following your posts for a while. And i really like them! But this time I have to disagree. I loath the white legging, it’s as horrendous as you say. But it’s generally a certain age group that actually wears it. Not everyone of every age.
    Overall I do agree though!

  7. Epi B

    Hahaha, my goodness this is all so true… It’s horrible and I can’t explain it either…

    I’m in Ecuador atm and they wear leggings here a lot as well, never white ones though, and never in combination with that dreadful denim mini skirt that makes everyone’s but look square… They do wear them as regular pants, but for some reason, it look kind of OK here. I might have to dedicate a blog to this phenomenon on my travelblog, now that I think about it…

  8. Sam

    White leggings aren’t actually ‘in fashion’ in The Netherlands because the kind of people who wear them aren’t in any way considered ‘fashionable’

    • Laurora

      Hahaha exactly. The people who are seen wearing the horrific denim-skirt-and-cheap-white-legging look, are people from a certain age group, and even then only a specific type of person… They usually group together.
      And yes, unfortunately, there are a lot of them. But I assure you that there almost no white leggings to be seen in the agegroup 16-30 (at least, as far as I’m aware of).

  9. Pauline

    O dear, even non-Dutch are picking up on this horrific trend that the least bit of sun= 3/4 white leggings to celebrate the occasion. It’s been here for a few years now, and it seems white leggings are here to stay. And unfortunately, the square, shapeless, often too short (as in: above the pudgy knees, for ladies who really should know better but who apparently don’t own full-length mirrors) skirt + awful “I’m a mum now so I need an easy hairdo / I’m a mum now and I just don’t care anymore” short hairstyle go with it…. *shudders*

    (btw, 3/4 leggins under a skirt is fine, but NE-VER white!)

    • Sarah

      3/4 leggings are never ok, not under any circumstances but inside your home with the curtains closed please 🙂

  10. Pauline

    But, like Sam said; the ladies wearing them (think: 35+ slightly overweight mums who don’t give a toss about their looks anymore since having their kids) are not exactly known for making fashion statements here. Quite the opposite 🙂

    • Nana

      Let’s hope they are the only group of ladies wearing white leggings. 😐

  11. April

    That haircut! What is up with that. This post is TRUE!!!

    • jodivankeeken2012

      I hate short hair,,, always have,, when I came to Holland I needed a trim, my Dutch was horrible, so I had a magazine with a cut I wanted,, showed it to the “hair dresser/butcher” when she was done I was horrified my hair was cut so short,,I gave her the evils and paid , and since then I have never ever gone back to a Dutch hair butcher,I just wait till I get back to the USA and have them to do a proper job on my hair.

      • penny

        Same thing happened to me there. Wanted a trim and got butchered. Seems like just short is not enough they want to look like men

  12. Maaike

    The group that loathes this piece of clothing (me included) is far bigger than the pro-legging group, thank god!

  13. LunamasK

    Please don’t think ALL Dutch are blind to their mirrors….these offenders are mostly women preparing for their pensions and buy clothes from specialty shops that carry only + sizes!

    Common (clothing) sense apparantely is dissolving out of the human DNA…which actually started in the “allmighty” US of A…

    So yesss, I agree whole heartedly: white should only be legal at a Sensation party, or if you are a medical proffessional….(only then you are allowed to combine it with your fuggly Crocs)

  14. lola

    @Pauline, if only this would be true. where I work, there is plenty ladies (and men) who earn well, are spending loads of money on their appearance (and very much care about their looks). First ray of sunshine and they r all in their best white (and I dont work in the hospital)

  15. nuno.curado

    Oh, but the “leggings-worn-without-a-dress-or-skirt” have crossed the ocean! Come to Lisbon for instance. 😀 What’s worse is that most girls tend to wear them two sizes smaller.. a dreadful sight to one have in the morning while waiting for the bus!

  16. Sandeman

    I had never noticed this. But now it’s in my head. And I can’t get it out.

    Please help me..?

  17. rosariok

    You dont have to go to the Netherlands to find people wearing white leggings as pants. Where I live in Canada everyone is wearing leggings as pants and it’s growing in popularity. There is no way a person can wearing white pants, shorts or leggings without your white panties won’t shown through. I don’t know what people are thinking when you see someone wearing those sheer white leggings with the lace at the ankle and their whole backside exposed. I like to wear leggings but I cover my butt with a long top.

    • Stigmalia

      Omg they should by nude color undies in canada xD just like me, a dutch girl

      • rosario

        I have a pair of white leggings and I can’t wear them outside my home because it doesn’t matter what colour of panties I wear they show through these leggings.

  18. Emilie

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the ‘no-pants-legging’ has indeed landed in the Netherlands. I first saw a girl walking around river island with a black legging and a denim shirt and I felt I was looking straight into her butt-crack.
    But then, during queensday they began attacking me everywhere, and the worst of it is that the colors are not just plain black or blue or red, but metallic… So I don’t even doubt anymore that they want to ‘show what they got in their trunk’…

  19. Dutch guy

    For this topic, I’d like to share my point of view, being a dutch guy. After all, we’re about 50% of the population, and the looks of women do matter to us.

    First of all, I like leggings (on women): they provide a good view on the shape of the body. Generally speaking, the female body has perfect aesthetics, so the best way to provide a pleasant view is to make that body visible. Of course there are exceptions (e.g. obese people), but even if you’re only moderately beautiful, it’s better to show than to hide.

    Secondly, the color: white as a legging color is NOT beautiful: it gives the impression that your legs are white. An additional feature is that white tends to be semi-transparent; whether that’s an advantage depends on what is worn underneath (less=more). So the white color can go both ways; I’d say that black is a safer choice.

    Thirdly, the denim jeans on top of the leggings: this is a very common HUGE FAIL of dutch women:
    * Skirts over pants is wrong: it removes the advantages of both. Leggings ARE pants in this respect. They are even BETTER than other pants: they provide a better view on the body shape. BTW, I’ve been to Canada recently, and yes, I enjoyed it.
    * Denim skirts are WORSE than other skirts: the stiff denim fabric tends to maintain its own shape, and therefore hide the beautiful shape of what is underneath.

    Finally, women with short hair: while some women manage to have good-looking short hair, these are really exceptions. There has been research which showed that men across a wide range of different cultures preferred women with long hair. Dutch men are not an exception to this! I don’t know why so many dutch women choose to have short hair, but they’d be stupid if they did it to be attractive for the opposite sex. I suspect that, at some point in their lives, (dutch?) women no longer feel the need to be attractive, or they even want to be unattractive to men. Can it have something to do with being married, or having children?

    • AnneBillson

      Women wear their hair long or short for a variety of reasons. Long hair can be tiresome if, for example, you often go swimming, or if it’s very fine, or if you have more important things to tend to every day. Not all women are desperate to please men, and not all men prefer women who conform to what “a wide range of different cultures” finds attractive. Some men prefer women who are individuals, and who know what suits them.

      • Michael

        Absolutely right; I find women attractive who are strong and at the same time feminine, in fact my girlfriend was once a top class volleyball player; many sportspeople have short hair for practical reasons. Strong can be feminine, short hair can be glamorous and women who don’t conform can be very attractive. That’s why I posted the picture of the swimmer. Strong, short haired and undeniably feminine and attractive.

      • Nara Rai

        Dutch Women are Biggggggggggggggggg as compare to women from other countries. And their short hair is not beautiful at all. The only way for me to tell a difference between men & women in this country is my looking at their chest …. pants , shirt , men boots short hair, no make-up , hugggg bodies … how am I suppose to know ????

    • Dutch-she abroad

      I am a Dutch woman and although I stay far away from (white) leggings, I have to comment on the short hair thing. Yes, I have short hair. Yes, I am married and I have children. But NO, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be attractive anymore! (NO woman wants that!) I have short hair because it looks good on me. It makes the shape of my face come out nicely. I find myself attractive with short hair. And I refuse to grow my hair, just so that the majority of men find me more attractive. I have too much self-respect for that.

  20. Joyce

    I couldn’t agree more with you.. but one remark; how is it possible that after living amongst the Dutch and observing them for so long, that you still can’t spell the name of our ultimate alltime favourite supermarket properly?? It’s Albert Heijn (not Hein)
    You have my vote (or ‘like’) for the facebook page though..

  21. Pauline

    @lola; I don’t envy you, having to look at that all day :-S

    • Sarah

      My boyfriend doesn’t like pointless text on his shirt, but he also doesn’t want to spend too much money on shirts. This makes his options for buying shirts very limited, as most affordable stores seem to have random text on almost all their men’s shirts!

  22. Renske

    I am Dutch, and I hate the white legging. In my knowledge people wear these because they don’t want to show much skin this early in spring/summer (or never). Or the reason can be because the skin has not tanned yet, or otherwise the skin looks more tanned with white clothing (they think). I think that only little girls should where white leggings underneath there dress, so it’s not to bare skin. After the age of 10, girls and woman should NOT wear white leggings!!!

  23. linda

    Thank you!! dank je!! for making this problem aware. And its not only the white leggings, its most of all the leggings-as-pants phenomenon. Oh lord those things are everywhere and they make me sick! Seriously people, i can see your underwear and i don’t wanna see it… -_-” And then the patterns on those things… they keep getting uglier! (just the tip of the iceberg of horrible fashion. Uggs, crocs, coats with too much fur and coats that look like trash bags or that horrendous patch of too short hair that hipster girls wear lately, just to name a few.

  24. freikugel


    it’s crossed more than an ocean unfortunately, it’s all too common here in Australia too!

  25. Chebu

    I like leggings (not the white one). They are great if you need to cycle 10+ km everyday!
    Mind, here in Germany the white leggings are omnipresent as well. But then again, Germans are not known for their fashion sense, are they?

  26. Jess

    Leggings are all over the USA too. Here people like different colours though. White is pretty bad but flesh toned ones with a too short shirt are far worse at a distance they look like they are walking around half nude. I wish the skinny jeans/ leggings craze would just go away. These are not flattering at all.

  27. Canadutchie

    I have never and will never wear a white legging or those Birkenstocks. I am tall, not skinny and I do realize this limits my way of dressing. 😉 I do think the main factor in the Dutch choice of clothing and hair styles is the weather and our way of transportation (biking since they tax the s out of anything in the Netherlands). Biking with a skirt or dress is possible. You will get smiles of guys coming your way, who have a nice view of your thighs and more (if you do not wear leggings). And when you get of your bike, your skirt/dress is all up in your you-know-what. It’s a choice; do I go with being uncomfortable for a while or pretend something looks good?

    Short hair on women… I would say it’s a fail in 80% of the cases.

    • lagatta à montréal

      I often wear leggings under a skirt (not a denim mini!) here in Montréal because I cycle everywhere – except when there is heavy snow. Always black though. And I’m an evil boomer. There was some nasty ageism in a few of these comments – I see LOTS of unfashionable or vulgarly dressed young people too.

      I don’t have short hair. Have let it go silver (black undertones) and wear it at least shoulder length. I have nice, thick, curly hair and am not about to chop it off!

  28. John

    The most disgusting thing too much Dutch women wear are those ***** Birkenstocks or flip-flops.

  29. silly

    i like them if they have a lace trim on the bottom. With a colourful just above knee length skirt or dress over it so you only see the lacy part. (NO SHORTS, i hate shorts :D).
    I prefer black for myself though. I just KNOW everything white i wear will have a stain on it whitin the first minute i wear it.
    I am glad i am too clumsy for white leggings 😀

  30. hi

    ha and i though the plain black legging fad was bad! !

  31. harmamae

    From Canada here… when I saw your pictures of white leggings, I did think – at least they’re wearing something over them! It’s often a bit awkward when people just wear leggings with no skirt/long shirt on top…

  32. Dinah

    This is SO hilarious! I want to post it on facebook, but I don’t want to offend my Dutch white-legging-wearing and hacked-haired friends!

  33. Dropje-Kopje

    I am right now wearing white leggings. They are stretch denim, full-length, and completely bum-covered with an oversized blue v-neck tee shirt. I say, if you have the legs for leggings, go for it. No matter what the color of your leggings, however, always cover your bum with your top — unless it’s 1982 and you’re singing for Van Halen.

  34. peggy

    While visiting family last month in Holland I was on the lookout for the white legging wearers. I could not believe how many women were wearing them. I cracked up every single time I saw them.

  35. Petra

    Well, I am Dutch and I have a white legging too…….so thank you, now I’ll never wear these without thinking about this article for the rest of my live ……hahahaha

    • Safia

      Thank you! Winter is full of black clothes, hardly anything else. When spring comes I LOVE to finally see white and colourful clothes! I sometimes really get depressed with all that black around 🙁

  36. Michael

    I thought ‘Desigual’ was a spelling mistake until I went into V&D at the weekend and saw it. Now I know precisely what you mean; what a mess.

  37. GoedGezond

    Haha, wat een leuk stukje. Ik vind ze ook erg lelijk hoor, witte leggings. Voor kinderen nog wel leuk maar volwassen vrouwen die ermee lopen ?

  38. One Bulgarian In Amsterdam ( Zeist)

    And still…the dutch women is the most beautiful…so natural looking, so keen and perceptive,well-mannered and full with grace….well may be I’m not verry objective,simply because I love a dutch girl. But I swear that is true! -)

  39. Siska

    I am reading all the commends about how the Dutch woman dress and I am not in agreement!
    Although I do not like the white legging,I think woman in the Netherlands have a great fashion sense!
    Everytime I go to Europe and then come back to North America I notice the sloppy people here in North America!
    The shapeless clothing and running shoes everywhere!
    I love style and will often even buy clothes and shoes in Europe or look for Europian brands here in the stores. I think you are all being too harsh on the Dutch!

  40. linda

    so what . if people want to wear something like that , let him do that. Its not my favorite thing . But i dont give a shit . I like holland because the people they wear what they want to wear.
    otherwise it is a country still boring. Join the mad wear what you want to do. YOLO.

    • tabitha driskell

      I’m not! 😀 I have high metabolism. I wish that we didn’t have so many restaurants. I never like the fact that it is true that us Americans seem to think bigger and more is always better.

  41. tabitha driskell

    I am american and I find these leggings beautiful. It makes me want to live in the Netherlands even more. That and the fact that Dutch people seem to say what they want, which I love.

  42. Marlize

    I have been to the U.K. and the U.S.of A. seveveral times. It is true that in Mid Town NY people dress fashionably. But the more West you go the less taste. In California women and men wear shorts from April til October with flabby t-shirts and brown sandals or ugly flipflops. Even senior people and peope who are too fat to drag them up the stairs. In the U.K. you can observe the same lack of tast (with exception of the posh areas in London). When on holidays they make their way to the beach wearing bathing clothes and tattoos all over. No dress or shirt to cover up. In the Netherlands this is ‘not done’. Conclusion: don’t point your finger at the Dutch but have some selfreflection.
    Look at the Italians who almost always dress fashionably and tastefully. I admire their taste.

  43. Mandy

    As a Canadian who is so totally over seeing the intimacies (read “cottage cheese bum” and “dimples”) the black leggings provide to us – I apologize profusely for what is about to befall your beautiful nation. I would welcome the horrors of mismatched white leggings with skirts!!
    I just pray that your offenders switch to the Black Legging when they “bare all”. White leggings with the skirt missing would be a horror.

  44. Petra

    It’s soooo easy to look great, compared to them. Especially being Dutch, it makes me feel great. And I am noticed, too. Even better.

  45. Kelly

    Funny how people react, as me as Dutch person living in England have always been so surprised about the English wearing black leggings with trainers and a short top .what combination is that?and Dutch woman big?I think there are more big woman in England. ..wearing leggings with trainers hahaha

  46. asha k b

    I am dutch but i I never ever have worn a white legging. But there is a small group that has such bad taste and next to their short red hairdo also wear blue eyeliner with the excuse that it is modern :cracksmeup: Living in turkey now btw and no white leggings here instead of that flower village trousers ( don’t know what is worse)

  47. Suzan

    O, yes. That’s ugly alright. I never took notice. Now I won’t be able to look the other way. So, thank you.

  48. Henk

    PLEASE could you stop using the word ‘pants’ when you mean trousers! Pants are not trousers! They’re underpants, for men!

    [need to check the Stuff American & Canadian People Like blog for ‘Misspelling English Words’]

  49. Selina

    Britain loves leggings as trousers (yuck) but as of yet, white isn’t popular, thank goodness

    • Henk

      You’re right Selena, black leggings everywhere! They can look great though, depending on who wears them of course… They can be fantastic for showing off long legs and feminine shapes…! 😉

  50. txvoltaire

    Would you prefer leggings that are DayGlo Orange?

  51. Tessa Vosselman

    No, no, no, no, no!!!!! No to white leggings! I never understood that. The white makes it worse, but I don’t like the look of 3/4 leggings in any colour underneath a dress or skirt. No!
    It is a certain type of woman that wears an outfit like that. It’s not only the ones you described. But they’re the same type. And let’s not forget the rectangular glasses in fun colours.

  52. 15 Quirky Dutch Things | A Likely Life

    […] 10. Everyone is super chic in a totally casual way. Since pretty much everyone cycles heels just aren’t always practical. Young Dutch women are the queens of casual chic, they’re all about fashion-forward flats, New Balance trainers, ripped jeans, woollen coats and cute back packs and tote bags. However, I’ve been warned about Dutch women’s penchant for white leggings… […]


Leave a Reply to My Expat Bucket List: 10 Dutch Things I Want to Do | Craftie Mum Cancel Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.