Boys' Leggings: Materials--Leather

Figure 1.--This pair of child's leather leggings could have been worn by both boys and girls. A HBC readers believes they date to the 1930s. HBC would estimate that they are a little older. They are apparently from Canada where they no doubt would have felt good on a cold Winter day.

Many leggings during the Fautleroy era of the late 1880s and 1890s appear to be made out of leather. We are not positive when children began wearing them, but we do not notice them in the photographic record before the 1880s. This may, however, be a reflecion of alimited archive of images before the 1880s. They also were made in many styles, including some with large numbers of buttons. HBC noted a number of boys wearing leather leggings with Fauntleroy suits. We are not ure if the leather wasartificially colored. Leather leggings apparently became less commom after the turn of the 20th century when Fauntleroy suits declined in popularity. The leather leggings would have been more expensive than woolen ones, but changing fashion trends may have been more important than cost. We are not entirely sure why the leather lggings declined in popularity.

A Canadian reader writes, "Here is a picture of leather leggings like ones children wore in the 1930s to 60s. They are 16" long. If so, I think it is a child's pair of leggings. [HBC note: The leggings here look older than the 1930s to HBC, but our informatio on leggings is very limited at this time.] HBC is correct that these leggings were initially for children from affluent families. As with other garments, their use was affectd by social mobilkity. The ascending middle class here in Quebec adopted those leggings as a symbol of wealth, at a moment when no affluent families used them. As I mentioned before when discussing Quebec, people there often adopted English styles rather late as they were going out of style in England. Unti the 1960s, children in Quebec wore these leggings which were called " jambières ". I found on a picture in a book published by the Gouvernement du Québec a picture showing a girl 6 or 7 years old with leggings like these. When the children outgrew their leggings, parents added a piece of leather or clothing with straps as those at the top for using them longer."


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Created: January 16, 2004
Last updated: January 16, 2004