Guide to Renaissance Swag, Men’s Edition:

Once More into the Breeches, Dear Friends

We speaketh not of water-spouting tubes, nor gaps in yonder wall –

Nay, hose and breeches simply art the finest legwear of them all!

In addition to their many-layered top dressings, men of the Renaissance were not ashamed to go a little Peter-Pan on us and waltz around in brightly-colored tights. In fact, a glance at the evolution of men’s legwear proves that Renaissance men had their hands full keeping up with the rapidly-changing fashion trends of the day!


“Hose” was a footed leg covering similar to tights, with early designs reaching just above the knee, leaving it open from the crotch to the leg Later, as doublets became shorter, “codpieces,” or pouch-like coverings, came into style to clothe the… ahem… “unmentionables” that were exposed by the too-short hose. The careless color-mixing of the 1980s came early to Renaissance Europe as they donned multi-colored hose, sometimes with each leg a different color and sometimes with multiple colors on one leg!

Renaissance Period Tights

Renaissance Period Tights

By the 16th century, hose had separated into two garments: Breeches and stockings. Breeches covered the area from the waist to the upper thighs.

Knee Breeches

The Knee Breeches

Stockings covered the lower leg and were usually rolled above the knee and fastened on by garters. Popular styles of hose included:

Trunk hose, or round hose: Short and padded, worn over fitted hose that ended at the knees

Venetians: Semi-fitted hose stretching just below the knee.

Slops: Loose hose hemmed just below the knees

Pluderhosen: A type of slops that originated in Northern Europe – these hung below the knee and were “paned,” a style made with strips of fabric pulled over an inner layer to create a two-toned, puffed-up pumpkin look.

Breeches were attached to doublets by short laces or ribbons pulled through a row of eyelets and tied in bows at the waist: Clearly this the era when the term “fancy pants” was born!

King Henry Brocade Pants

The King Henry Brocade Pants

Now that thy fashion sense is sure and thou hast the sweetest threads,

Get thee to the nearest Ren Faire – thou art sure to turn some heads!

Visit Historical Clothing Realm for more renaissance pants, tights, and other men and women’s wear!

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