Children's Leggings: Chronology


Figure 1.--This wonderful Art Nouveau drawing of two fashionably dressed French girls in leggings appeared in a French fashion magazine, but I do not know which one. We are not sure about the date, but would guess the mid-1920s. Notice the differences in the leggings worn by the older and younger girl. Also notice their white gloves. One reader believes that George Barbier may the illustrator.

We have noted gaiters being worn by men in 16th century Elizabehan England, often in leather. It was a protective garment for the wealthy. Presumably they were also worn on the Continent. They were very utlitarian garments as men at the time wore rather short piffed trouser-like garments and tights-like hosiery. The first images I have noticed specifically for children are from the 1870s, but they almost cerainly were worn earlier. They were worn by both boys and girls. Presumably leggings came into style as boys began to commonly wear kneepants, but we cannot confirm this yet. Mothers apparently concluded that boys in kneepants needed the leggings for warmth. There are many portaits of American boys wearing leggings during the late 19th century. Many were wearing learher keggings. We are less sure about how common leggings were in Euroopean countruies during the late 19th century. We notice Montgmery Wards offering leggings in 1922 catalog. We also note that both boys and girls are wearings leggings at the turn of the 20th century amnd we note numerous offerijgs for leggings in French fashion magazines and vcatalogs diring the 1920s. They were worn with a variety of garments through thr 1940s, but were little worn by the 1950s.

The 16th Century

We have noted gaiters being worn by men in 16th century Elizabehan England, often in leather. It was a protective garment for the wealthy. Presumably they were also worn on the Continent. They were very utlitarian garments as men at the time wore rather short puffed trouser-like garments and tights-like hosiery.

The 19th Century

The first images we have noticed specifically for children are from the 1870s, but they almost cerainly were worn earlier. Befote the 60s the photograophic record is skethybanuntil the 40s not existent. Leggings were worn by both boys and girls. Presumably leggings came into style as boys began to commonly wear kneepants, but we cannot confirm this yet. Mothers apparently concluded that boys in kneepants needed the leggings for warmth. There are many portaits of American boys wearing leggings during the late 19th century. Many were wearing learher keggings. We are less sure about how common leggings were in Euroopean countruies during the late 19th century.

The 20h Century

We also notice leggings in the 20th century. We also note that both boys and girls are wearings leggings at the turn-of-the 20th century. We are not sure how well reflected they are in the photographic record. Children when having a formal portrit taken during the winter, usually took off their coats and other heavy garments. We do not see them commionly in the snapshots that begin to appear with the introduction of the Kodak Brownie (1900). They were a reltively expensive item, especially if made of leather, and thus mostly worn by children from well-to-do families. A good example is an unidentified American boy about 1905. We notice Montgmery Wards offering leggings in 1922 catalog. We note numerous offerings for leggings in French fashion magazines and catalogs during the 1920s. They were often deficted in European postcards showing winter scenes during the early-20th century. This seems to be more of a nostalgic depiction than an accurate depiction of popula fashions, but is a little difficult to tell. A Canadian reder tells us that Shirley Temple by popularising short skirts for little girls helped to revive leggings for a \time. Younger boys in the 1930s also began wearing shorter cut short pants. Some children wore long stockings, but never Shirley. This may have led to the decliomning im[prtance pf long stockings in merica during the 30s. One alternative to long stockings was leggings. This may have also helped to npopularize snowsuits. Leggings were worn with a variety of garments through the 1940s, but were little worn after the 1950s. One innovation in which leggings were more commonly worn were snow suits for younger children. We see quite a few of these in the 1920s and 30s and even into the 50s.







HBC





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Created: July 23, 2003
Last updated: 11:52 PM 3/9/2008