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Learn about Leggings
Most people will know exactly what you are talking about when you say Leggings. Skin tight clothing that covers the bottom half of the body, mostly worn by girls and women.
Modern leggings are seen by some people as an alternative to Pants, Jogging Pants, Trousers, Track Suit Bottoms or Jeans with others categorizing them closer to hosiery, like Pantyhose, Tights, Stockings.
Polyester is now the most common material used, often blended with other materials like cotton and may be calf length or ankle length. More specialist brands might be 100% Leather or Cotton. Some people wear them as an extra layer of clothing for warmth, paired with sweaters, loose tops, shorts and dresses, though controversially increasingly worn without any extra clothing often making the wearer’s bottom shape very obvious. See the pants / not pants argument later.
In most western countries from around 2005 or 2006 they have become a standard item in the wardrobe of many girls and women, plus some men. However leggings have a history that dates back centuries before modern fashion times.
Over the Centuries
Some variations have been part of clothing in many cultures; in Ancient Egypt silk decorated versions made of wool were common. There are records that show they were worn by Roman Soldiers in the first 2 centuries AD. In the Renaissance period they were a popular part of male clothing, often made from animal skins they were usually worn below loose trousers and tied around the calf area. Warriors in Scotland wore a version of them in the 14th century.
In the past they were mostly made as two separate pieces for each leg, but later evolved into ‘trews’ secured by a garter to the lower part of the leg and tied to the waist with a linen band.
After being popular in Scotland, they became quite popular in other parts of Europe, from the 15th to 17th century. Usually considered as hosiery or stockings they were made from materials like silk, wool or cotton, and sewn to be a tight fit to the leg.
By the 1900’s, they were a common clothing item worn mostly by women and some men in many societies.
Partly due to the 1960’s MOD culture and designers like Mary Quant, Leggings as a fashion item became popular and partly due to the impact of plastics in clothing manufacture (more below). The use of plastics allowed the manufacture of ‘one piece’ garments and brought bright colors and tighter fitting, often matched with short dresses and miniskirts and, popular with young females.
Famous celebrities like Mary Tyler Moore wore loose fitting Capri styles.
Films and Musicals like Dirty Dancing and Grease plus the 80’s fitness craze helped popularize them. The 80’s brought all sizes and styles, – knee-high, mid-thigh, Low Waist, High Waist, Capri plus vibrant colors and designs. They quickly became a fad along with trends like Shell Suits & Stirrup Pants.
The 1990’s proved that the 80’s resurgence was just a fad and they disappeared from the everyday view as soon as they appeared.
Plastics and the Fashion Industry
We all see and use plastics everyday, but most people are not aware that plastics development has mostly occurred over the past 80 years, Sellotape was only developed around 1930 and polythene bags around 1950.
Before the 1950’s and 60’s natural materials like cotton and wool made up 100% of all clothing and had no plastic content.
Plastics, Heating Oil, Petrol and Diesel are all created from crude oil. The main component of many modern fashions, is some form of plastic, eg Polythene, Nylon, Polyurethane, Vinyl, Rayon, and Polyester, with brand names like Lycra and Spandex; with Polyester being the most common plastic used.
Many modern fashion items are manufactured largely from Polyester due to it’s strength and flexibility and ability to keep colors that do not fade.
Resurgence this Century
2005/6 saw a resurgence in the wearing of leggings. Indi culture seems to be the primary influence in the resurgence. One of the first ‘stars’ to bee seen wearing them around this time was Sienna Miller.
In the US and UK sales of stockings and tights fell by up to 50%.
Today you can see leggings on any street in most countries. They are now available in many designs and styles from plain black to fake denim jeans look plus any color or pattern you can think of. Mostly worn by women, girls & babies, but also by some brave men – often referred to as ‘meggings’.
For many girls & women they are part of their everyday fashionwear. Frequently paired with other items like skirts, shorts, dresses, long shirts and even fur coats. Ironing or folding is not required, a big bonus to many. For many females they are the ultimate quick put on, pull off clothing item.
The right shape and design can make you look good no matter what age you are. There is plenty of design and style choice for everyone. But the wrong choice can highlight parts of your shape that make you look much worse. Sometimes people who need plus size force themselves into smaller sizes.
The “Are Not Pants” Controversy
If you search Google for the phrase ”Leggings are not Pants” (include the quotation marks) you will find around 177,000 pages. There are many fewer pages referring to them as Pants, however you only have to look on any street in most of the western world and you will see that women and girls (and some men) are voting with their feet – or more accurately voting with their legs.
The display of the precise shape of the wearers bottom, legs or hips is at the center of this controversy, made worse when wearer has no other covering from the waist down, with some girls being accused of being sluts. Miley Cyrus Twerk probably adds to the controversy.
In some places the ‘not pants’ view is very strong. A number of schools in the US and elsewhere have banned the wearing of them or insist that bottoms are covered. The middle east country Qatar has virtual total ban which also applies to tourists”.
Various Designs and styles?
These usually have mid height waist and go down to just above the ankles. Multiple printed designs and patterns are available including plain colors like Red, Blue, Yellow, Green, Mustard, Black, White Silver Gold plus anything in between. Some of the more popular patterns are Stars and Stripes, Galaxy, Clouds, Army, Floral, Tribal, Animal, along with themes like Comic Strip and Skeleton.
Similar designs to standard but usually a lower waist and finished half way between knee and ankle.
A unique word made up from jeans and leggings. Often referred to as ‘fake jeans’ they are available in different washes and rises, just like jeans eg stone wash, faded or ripped designs. A great choice for those who love skinny jeans but want something easier to pull on with more comfort.
Winter and Thermal
Usually made or lined with warm fabrics like wool, fleece, or fur, these are a great choice at winter time.
Not very common, but popular for the gym, these have straps that wrap under the foot, often are worn by dancers and gym goers. Echoing the 50’s style icons some designs work well with, sandals, or strapped shoes and even heels.
Very similar to tights but usually more design options. Fitting into shoes or boots these are very comfortable and durable. Great for winter time because the legs are fully covered.
There is plenty of choice and options on the market for those who love leggings. If you are not sure what will look best on you then spend some time browsing our site to find what suits. You can also look at fashion magazines or online articles or one of the many online stores.