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Thermals as outerwear – complete pants?

We on the fashion desk know how controversial tights can be. But those who feel the cold easily can take heart. Black tights may not have the fashion nod this winter, but thermals most certainly do. Think of it as the latest underwear-as-outerwear trend: thermals – those things usually hidden under clothes in subzero conditions – are now OK to wear solo.

While this is a unisex trend – everyone wears thermals, don’t they? – some of the idea comes from David Beckham. In the campaign for his latest HM collaboration, he has been snapped in a vest and thermal leggings, or long johns. If anyone can get the male population of the UK in a similar look, it’s Becks.

Kanye West on the Yeezy Season 2 catwalk. Photograph: Randy Brooke/Getty Images for adidas

And, of course, Kanye West – someone who Asos cites as a key influence on its under-25-year-old male customer. For his autumn collection for Yeezy, his army of mini-mes wore an appropriately military uniform of bomber jackets, hoodies and Yeezy Boost futuristic trainers, with male models in thermal-like leggings and women in the kind of super-stretchy nude-coloured tights that would be approved of by West’s wife, Kim Kardashian. West is no stranger to the long john look, wearing what appeared to be leather leggings on stage with a Givenchy sweatshirt in 2012.

As this is the kind of clothing that has practical uses, getting the look on the cheap is easy. The American Apparel waffle tops are the dipping-your-toe-in choice (and also have something of Elliott in ET about them) but it’s the bottom half that really shows fashion mettle. Go for Beckham’s thermals at HM, or Uniqlo’s cult choice Heat Tech long johns. Rather than looking like you have forgotten to add your trousers, try the Kanye-approved look of longline sweatshirt and bulky boots, with your thermals bunched a bit around the top for that Mad Max warrior chic.

American Apparel thermal top. Photograph: American Apparel

While there’s bound to be a bit of ribbing around this trend, it’s not as out there as, say, men in culottes. In a way, you could argue that this is the logical conclusion to men in skinny jeans. Is there that much difference between super-tight denim and a waffle-effect long john? There’s only one way to find out.

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