Leggings Throughout History

Leggings are an essential part of a many people’s wardrobes. Nowadays, leggings are sleek and can be printed with pretty much any pattern or design you can think of. So, it may surprise you that leggings are nothing new. They’ve been around for hundreds of years but have gone through many variation and different names.

We’ve collected a couple of glimpses of leggings throughout the centuries.

Shakespeare, really?

When you think of Shakespeare, it’s easy to imagine stockings as part of the time’s typical regalia. These tights were worn mainly by men during the Renaissance and was typically called hose (or chausses if you were in France).

From about the 13th to 16th century, these tights were all one piece; legs and britches were an all in one package. However, towards the end of  the 16th century the leggings were detached (for obvious, practical reason of going to the washroom). Nonetheless, for a good 300 years in Europe you would be hard pressed not to see a man in leggings of the day.


There is a very high chance infamous Jesse James wore leggings (of the time). Cowboys wore leggings made of buckskin to protect them while riding their horses. An added bonus is it would protect them from common insect bites (and ticks in particular) when traversing grassing lands.

Often called chaps, these leggings became more than a protection item and quickly transformed into something more iconic. Nothing is quite as cowboy-ish as leather, buckskin chaps (maybe a hat).

World War I

In the late 19th century, militaries around the world started to issue leggings made of mainly wool (and other materials) to their soldiers. Initially, these puttees were merely bandage like wraps for a soldier’s legs. These were replaced by leggings fitting today’s definition a bit more closely.

Both styles of leggings were imperative for keeping a soldier’s feet and ankles dry and away from the mud. By the 1940s, these leggings were phased out in favour of pants and boots combination.

Where else in history do you know of a leggings variant? Care to share? Let us know in the comments below.

Join The Discussion

We will never publish your email address or sell it. We use your email address to verify you are human; to ensure spam bots don't overrun our blog 🤖

Join our Newsletter & Save 10%

Receive updates, ongoing promotions, and a 10% discount with your first order as a small thank you for shopping Legs.li. Sleeky, hot leggings at a discount, NICE!

— Legs.li on Instagram —