Hungarian Boys Clothes: Leggings

Figure 1.--Here we see a Hungarian boy in the early 1920s wearing a short pants sailor suit with what look like leggings.

Leggings are a garment that we do not know a great deal about. We have one image of an Hungarian boy in the 1920s wearing leggings, but we are a little confused as the leggings look to be worn under rather than on top of the pants. Perhaps it is just that American boys did not commonly wear short pants with leggings. Girls of course did not wear leggings over dresses. We are not sure, however, how common leggings like this were in Hungary.

The Portrait

A HBC contributor tells us, "Here is an image that I found quite interesting. The photograph was taken in Budapest, Hungary, about 1925. I found it dated as "1923-25" in an old book but otherwise unidentified.. The boy's name is unknown, but he clearly belonged to a fashionable, style-conscious family. He wears a sailor suit with very dressy white collar and cuffs, short pants, and long light- colored leggings, which are like spats that extend well over his knees and cover much of his legs as long stockings might do. He may be wearing long stockings underneath although the photo doesn't make this clear. The leggings seem to be made of suede, kid, or some other rather pliable material--probably leather or cloth. I suspect that they are light gray in color. Notice the strap under the shoes. We see no buttons for closure of the sort that most leggings have. I wonder how they were put on and how they were kept in place. They seem to be almost skin-tight and so perhaps stayed up without additional support. The drapery and background suggest a professional studio portrait of a rather aristocratic boy about five or six years old. It would be interesting to have comments from HBC's European readers on this image. The short haircut with the hair combed forward like bangs seems to me to be characteristic of the mid-1920s."

Reader Comment

A Canadian reader writes, "Maybe I could be wrong but if you enlarge the picture, you will see small white button on those white leggings. But, it doesn't matter because there existed "jersey" leggings which were sold in Canada since 1900 without any button or just faked buttons which tied up nothing. The material was thickier than coton or wool and were attached with garters if needed. I found one pair of them on ebay . They were usually worn but ladies or teenage girls They are really soft and light brown in color. Maybe they are also in very soft and thin leather are those kid gloves people wore at that time. But they were extremely expensive. You can find a pair in the site on "leggings" where we see French wearing them in a park in Paris. Leggings were not just brown but also black or white which appeared to be highly fashionable. It would be interesting to find more children in leggings but it is really hard to find some in Canada. because of the weather, they were worn here only on spring and autumn. I feel they were most popular in the United States in fashionable cities like New York or Boston or in Europe (Paris, London, Berlin). They were mainly worn by children of wealthy families. . They are rarely seen in catalogs because they were worn mainly by high class children like the boy we see here." Our contributor responds, "Very enlightening comments from your Canadian reader. I had no idea that such leggings were ever worn with garters. Since the Hungarian boy's leggings come up so high under his shorts (exactly as long stockings would do), I wonder if perhaps he wears garters to hold them in place. It seems possible, doesn't it? Also I believe I can see something like ornamental buttons up the side of the legs. But if these are present at all, they must be purely decorative and nonfunctional."


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Created: 4:04 PM 11/29/2004
Last updated: 12:54 AM 11/30/2004