Tights are also worn for a variety of specialized activities. Interestingly the activities include an amazinly disperate range of activities from rough and tumble sports like football (soccer) to more refined classical ballet and theatricals. Ballet and other dancers use tights as part of a traditional ballet costume, both for performances and practice sessions. German and other northern European countries can be quite cold during the winter. Boys, especially European boys, may wear tights for warmth and protection while playing sports during the winter. Some hikers swear by high quality (long lasting) tights, primarily women hikers. Tights have been worn for dress occasions such as music recitals. HBC has noted Japanese boys wearing tights as Suzuki violin recitals. Tights were one widely worn by adults involved in theatricals--in part because of the importance of Shakespearean works set in eras when men wore tights-like garments. In our modern era, some theatrical programs for children also use tights
in performances. Some American boys participating in competitive wrestling wear tights, almost always black tights, under their singlets.
Ballet and other dancers use tights as part of a traditional ballet costume, both for performances and practice sessions. American ballet schools often require boys to wear black tights and girls pink tights. Foreign schools show more variety. While American and British boys generally shy away from ballet, there are usually a few enthusiastic boys in many dance programs, often brothers who sisters do ballet. In Russia and some European countries it is more popular.
German and other northern European countries can be quite cold during the winter. Boys interested in outdoor sports like soccer (football to our British friends) have taken to wearing tights with their shorts. Americans might think it would make more sence to wear long pants or a jogging suit, but serious German soccer enthusiasts (and German boys are very enthusiastic about soccer) playing during the winter insist on wearing the short pants associated with the game. (Soccer is more of a seasonal sport in America and boys turn to basketball during the winter.) German boys also report it makes sence to wear tights in indoor facilities because they can prevent injuries to the skin when sliding on artificial turf.
Boys, especially European boys, may wear tights for warmth and protection while playing sports during the winter. One athletic event actually uses tights as a standard part of the uniform--gymnastics. Boys have worn loose fitting white tights for years in gymnastics performances. New materials and the popularity of lycra tights have revolutionalized attire in gymnastics--which now can be very colorful.
Some hikers swear by high quality (long lasting) tights, primarily women hikers.
Tights have been worn for dress occasions such as music recitals. HBC has noted Japanese boys wearing tights as Suzuki violin recitals. We believe that they were worn in other countries, but few details are available at this time.
Renactment of historical eras is a popular activity in America and Europe. The Medieval and Renaissance eras are popular eras in Europe and many towns have festivals in which people wear cistumes for pagents or just as reenachment activities. Men and boys commonly wear tights for these events. In a East German festival, for example boys wore destinctive hats, red jackets or tunics, and tights as a kind appretice boy outfit. Medieval events are less common in America, but Renaissance festivas are popular. Wearing tighrts is less common than in Europe, but costuming is encourageda nd some boys do.
Tights for children are a relatively new garment, appearing after World War II. They replaced the cumbersome long stockings that many children had formerly worn in the 19th and early-20th century. Tights are primarily associated with girls, but this varied frfom country to country. Tights in American and Britain were exclusively worn by girls. They were very common in America and continue to be, but only for girls. All kinds of colors including bright colors were popular with the girls who commonly wore them to school during cold weather. Some girls in Britain wore them as part of a uniform, usually on a seasonal basis. Tights were worn by younger boys in several countries. They were worn by boys in countries like Germany, Japan, Korea, Poland and Russia. We first see them in Germany, but this cis a little difficult to follow because at the time they appeared, more boys were beginning tgo wear long pants. Tights subequently appeared in Russia and Poland as well. Girls also wore them, but no exclusivedly. Age conventions varied from country to country. They are still are worn by younger boys in a few countries, especially Japan and Korea. We note chidren at a Korean school wearing sailor suit outfits with white tights. We note a range of colors bering worn. There were some gender differences in color. Tights were primartily a cold weather school garment, but we see them bring worn for formal occassions in Japan and Russia.
A HBC reader in 2002 reports that swimming should be added to he list of activities foe which tights are worn. He writes, "It is becoming more common in the United States to see boys wear tights for swim practice, as well as for water ballet costumes. When I was growing up in the US in the 1960s, the closest thing to tights that we wore was long thermal underwear during the winter. In high school, the members of our swim team were wearing sweat pants during workouts." HBC has little information on tights worn for swimming. We do not know when his began or how common it is. Not do we have information on material, color, national trends, gender variations, and other factors. Presumably tights affect drag in the water, but we do not yet have details. Hopefully HBC readers can provide us some background information here. A reader tells us, "Wearing tights for aquatic events in the United States dates back to the 1950s, when water ballet became popular in American highschools secondary schools. Also, this was the time when tights began to be made of nylon, which being non-absorbent works better in the water. These pagents largely involved girls. If boys were involved in such water pageants, tights were worn as part of costumes. Over the last 15-20 years, swimming coaches have instructed the members of their teams to wear tights during workouts and conditioning. Not only does this impart a drag penalty, but it also helps to keep muscles warm during the workouts. Colors appear to be basically up to the individual."
Tights were one widely worn by adults involved in theatricals--in part because of the importance of Shakespearean works set in eras when men wore tights-like garments. In our modern era, some theatrical programs for children also use tights
Some American boys participating in competitive wrestling wear tights, almost always black tights, under their singlets. HBC is not sure how common this is in other countries.
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing style pages:
[Main hoisery page]
[Stockings] [Kneesocks] [Tights]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronologies] [Countries] [Style Index]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Links] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration]
[Boys' Clothing Home]