Like so many others last November, I came across a viral TikTok video on my “For You” page of a young woman, Hannah Schlenker, nonchalantly dancing to Justin Bieber’s song “Drummer Boy” in her kitchen. To my surprise, the video’s virality did not owe to her why-bother dance style—it’s as though she was marking the choreography instead of committing to it full on and she even jokingly captioned the clip, “Yes queen give us nothing.” It turned out that the video’s popularity was, in fact, because of her blue Aerie leggings. Dubbed the Real Me High Waisted Crossover Legging, the pants are made in a lightweight 88% nylon, 12% elastane blend that serves as a second skin and, per the website, when worn, it “feels like the real you!” On Schlenker, the legging’s v-shaped waistband was incredibly flattering to her waist (for the record, it is very small, irrespective of the leggings) and the world took note.
Within a week of the TikTok, Aerie’s Crossover Leggings sold out across the country and incited a new crop of videos in which women with different body types put the leggings to the test in TikToks of their own, showing off the garment’s flattering prowess. And so the cycle continued: the leggings restocked, flew off the shelves, and the waitlist kept growing. “We have sold out over six times and have collected over 156K emails from customers asking to be on the ‘notify me’ list,” says Jennifer Foyle, the chief creative officer at AEO Inc. and global brand president at Aerie.
The hype wasn’t over by the time I got my hands on a pair of simple black crossover leggings in February. I didn’t immediately cave to the craze after first seeing Schlenker’s video, but countless crossover-legging-TikToks later, the familiarity principle—humans develop a preference for things which they see often—ultimately got the best of me and I, too, bought the leggings. And I was not alone; “our community is anxiously awaiting the newest collection of tie-dye patterns that releases on March 18,” Foyle adds.
Leggings are a closet staple that, while polarizing (opposers claim the pants are too revealing and have even launched campaigns against them), have had a comeback amidst the pandemic: they’re simple, chic, comfortable, and they pair well with an oversized button-up. Plus, as yoga pants-adjacent, they serve as a reminder to get in a workout. I hadn’t bought any new leggings that I’d wear outside of the gym in years, so I figured if I were to try any new pair, it should be Aerie’s.
After slipping on the leggings, I immediately understood the allure. The v-shaped waistband does indeed offer a flattering cut (although my waist did not have as much of a dramatic cinching as I had hoped) and the fabric is more comfortable and lightweight than I had anticipated. I’ve worn these leggings for workouts and long walks, but I’ve mostly enjoyed wearing them on days spent working at home where “real pants” are not on the menu. I’d call them the perfect all-purpose legging.
Here, shop the black iteration of Schlenker’s now-famous Aerie crossover leggings. And should you want more color, tomorrow at 8 am EST, Aerie launches a brand new, tie-dye collection in pretty pastels and an exciting brown colorway that it’s destined to sell out.