Leggings : Definition of Clothing  Apparel Search

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Leggings are tight, form-fitting trousers that extend from the waist to the ankles; in the United States, they are sometimes referred to as tights (although the word tights is often used to refer to opaque pantyhose). Leggings are typically made from a blend of lycra, and either nylon, cotton, or a cotton-polyester blend. However, leggings can also be made from wool, silk, and various synthetic fabrics as well.

Types of Leggings

Leggings made from a nylon-lycra blend (usually 90% nylon, 10% lycra) are traditionally worn for exercise, although beginning in the 1980s they have also been worn for fashion. Nylon lycra leggings are often referred to as bicycle or running tights, and are shinier in appearance than those made from cotton. Many have racing stripes or reflective patterns to further distinguish them as athletic wear and provide extra safety.

Leggings made from cotton-lycra, or a cotton-polyester-lycra combination, are more typically worn for fashion, but are also common as fitness apparel as well. Although cotton lycra leggings can come in many colors, black, navy, and various shades of gray remain the most commonly worn. Children's leggings also come in a variety of colorful prints and designs.

Leggings are typically ankle-length; they are occasionally stirrupped, or less commonly, footed. Since socks are normally worn over the top of leggings, rather than underneath, stirrups prevent the leggings from becoming untucked from the sock.


Leggings (known as hose), were primarily worn by men in Europe, especially during the 15th and 16th centuries (the Renaissance period), and into the early 17th century (the time of Shakespeare). In many places, especially in colder countries such as Russia, men continued to wear leggings into the 1970s, often as an additional underlayer for warmth. It was not until the fitness and aerobics craze in the very early 1980s that leggings came into regular use by women. Because of their comfort and attractive appearance, leggings quickly found their way out of the fitness clubs and into everyday casualwear. By the mid-1990s, leggings were actually outselling jeans in many parts of the United States. Men have also begun to wear leggings more frequently in recent years as long underwear, and for more casual physical activities such as walking, hiking, or gardening, replacing the old standby, sweatpants.

Military leggings

In former times, soldiers, especially infantry, often wore leggings (also known as gaiters) to keep dirt and grime from entering their shoes, and to provide ankle support. Though they bore the same name, military leggings were different from the civilian version, which are are style of tights. Military leggings, by contrast, were more akin to buskins. These leggings usually consisted of a piece of canvas with criss-crossed laces running along one side, and an adjustable stirrup that passed under the sole of the shoe, just in front of the heel. Sometimes metal clips were substituted for laces. The soldier placed the leggings around his calf with the laced side facing out and adjusted them and the strap to acheive a proper fit. Leggings typically extended to mid-calf, although sometimes they extended to just below the knee.

Sometimes puttees
strips of thick woolen cloth resembling a large bandage
were wrapped around the leg to serve the same function as leggings. They were usually helpd in place by a strap attached to the cloth.

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Late in World War II, militaries began experimenting with combat boots and jump boots for their soldiers, which obviated the need for leggings. The United States Army retained the less-expensive low-quarter hobnailed boot for its non-elite troops, but added a stiffened leather collar that could be clipped to the top of the shoe to protect against dirt. This proved easier to apply and remove than the more cumbersome laced design, and provided greater mobility in combat. By the 1960's, however, the old low style of shoe had given way to combat boots in most militaries, and leggings of any kind were obsolete. Leggings, usually bright white and often made of patent leather or buff are now worn primarily for ceremonial purposes.







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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/leggings ).  8/9/05

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