The idea lf men wearing tights is not a new one. In fact, it is one dating as far back as the 16th century, where paintings of the Italian Renaissance displayed men wearing the equivalent of pantyhose. As horses were the primary means of transportation, men were seen wearing close fitting knee high pants and sometimes codpieces with their tights. In addition, Hans Holbein the Younger’s portrait Henry VIII depicted the English monarch in tights in 1537. This portrait communicated to the male nobility that tights were acceptable, and possibly even cool. After all, if a man with six wives could be confident in them, couldn’t any man?
The fashion of male stockings continued in the 17th century with “paned” or “pansied round hose” called “cannions”. These stockings reached from the waist to the thigh and were full at the bottom and close fitting at the top. As the century marched onward, the round hose turned into breeches extending to the knee or slightly below it. The stockings that accompanied the breeches were held up by garters and ended at the knee.
As the 1800s approached, breeches were replaced by trousers. During this time, men would still occasionally wear tights under their trousers for extra warmth, but this was not a common practice. With the evolution of trousers came the end of men in tights as socially acceptable, except for circus artists, dancers, and theatrical performers.
Tights for men were absent in mainstream society for a decent chunk of the 1900s. However, in 1979, soccer player, Keith Weller, was spotted wearing a pair of his wife’s tights, as he was experiencing groin strain. After this, the fashion of tight wearing began to spread to many athletes and is still visible today. Many men wear tights during athletic games and practices for the extra warmth and comfort they provide. Entertainment also played a part in bringing tight-wearing me back into the scene. In the numerous Robin Hood films, as well as Superman movies, reintroduced the idea of men wearing tights again as something casually sought after.
As you can see, the trend of men in tights has come full circle, going back to its roots in the 16th century. Although tights for men are no longer mainstream in a big way, they can still be viewed on men in runways and in metropolitan areas.
To see a collection of period style tights, as well as breeches and trousers, stop on by: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/