Take a quick look at any girl’s wardrobe these days and try to identify a piece of clothing that would be common to all. You would definitely find a pair of leggings on that list. Go out on the streets and start noticing what women around you are wearing and you bet you’ll find a lot of them in leggings.
These favorable clothing articles have a very interesting history behind them so let’s have a look at some of these bewildering historic facts.
They’re much older than you think!
One might be of the opinion that leggings are a recent invention by some chic, high headed designers in the industry. On the contrary, the truth is that they have actually been around since the 1400s!!
You read that right. They’ve been in production for ages even though they were worn and used in a much different way than we know of today. Also, your surprises don’t just end here. We know that leggings are more of a female thing in today’s world but it was actually the opposite sex that used to wear them, in the past, that too with a lot of pride.
No, it’s not weird to think men strutting about in leggings, in the olden days it was a mark of class. The men actually wore what we call tights these days, under their ‘cotehardies’. What is also interesting and maybe humorous to some is that the leggings under the cotehardies were usually of bright playful colors rather than the black and grey, famous today for women. This fashion lingered on until the 1600’s with little or no record of any alteration to the ‘men leggings’.
Ironically, even during the 1900s, one would expect leggings to have made its way into the female side of the industry but it was still being majorly used for the infantry of the USA. These leggings were made of leather or of similar tough material and were not full length as we see today. The leggings for military use were mostly till the upper end of the calf muscle or till the knee and were held together by assortments of buttons and straps connected to the boots.
It was much later in the late 1900s that women started wearing these after influencing personalities started adding leggings to their wardrobes. Famous actress Audrey Hepburn featured Capri sized leggings in her movies but the leggings weren’t made of the same stretchy material that is used today.
Lycra or more commonly known as spandex was invented around 1960, which is the stretchy material that is used for leggings to date. It was after this, that the celebrities like Olivia Newton (from the Grease movie) took to wearing shiny disco-themed leggings in blockbuster movies which catapulted them to the front of the fashion industry. It was only later around the 1980s that Madonna and other stars started sporting black and grey colored leggings which set a trend for the bold fashion style of the decade. The era was obsessed with fitness and the all-time favorite black leggings took the market by storm. It was by far the most interesting piece of clothing at that time in the market. It was something new and different for the people purely because on one side it could be worn on stage as a fashion statement and on the other an extremely bold and practical aerobics outfit.
It Fell and Rose Again like an Empire
Nothing really lingers on forever, not even plastic. Although it looks like leggings might. Around the 2000s the craze for leggings did die out a bit. Albeit, baggy lowers and cargo pants took the center stage however the same could not hold on for too long. Baggy pants are no doubt quite comfortable and sometimes useful too but then the fashion industry could not really provide as much enthusiasm to the public as leggings did. So after a brief period, the boom of the legging industries monopolized the clothing industry and sparked the fashion industry with fresh fuel.
The market kept growing with leggings at the forefront of many timelines. In fact, around 2016 the leading fashion influencers like Gigi Hadid, Kendal Jenner, and Kylie fully incorporated leggings into their daily wear and replaced pants quite gracefully. From there on the world swiftly adopted leggings into almost every sphere of life.
It was around this time that a man’s wardrobe was also incomplete without a legging. Schools and colleges had incorporated leggings into their official uniforms. Girls were sometimes made to wear leggings under skirts as a part of the uniform. The most common and obvious gym outfit was still legging. Not only that, a new revolutionary idea changed the rugged jeans industry too and it was all based around leggings. Manufacturers started making leggings that looked like jeans but were actually common tight fit leggings. They called it jeggings and the name alone spiked the interest of the people.
So all in all one can easily say that leggings have been incorporated quite firmly in a person’s everyday life and won’t be leaving us anytime soon. From the 1400s to date it has been lingering around us closer than most clothing articles.
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