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Why We Love Leggings

February 03, 2024

Why We Love Leggings

Jump To: Leggings History | Leggings in the 20th Century | Styles of Leggings 

Leggings. Such a loaded word. 

Unlike shirts. Or pants. Or sweaters.  

This poor eight letter word just wants to be left alone. Why can’t it just be worn in peace? What is all this nonsense about LEGGINGS? Sometimes I feel like there just isn’t enough for people to gripe about, so they just gripe about leggings. But all leggings really want is to just be worn and left alone. 

Personally, I own more leggings than I do pants. And that’s not about to change anytime soon. I love their comfort and convenience. I love how I can dress them up or dress them down. And I love how they just cradle my body like a warm embrace. 

“I LOVE LEGGINGS. AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE LEGGINGS. AND I WILL ALWAYS WEAR THEM NO MATTER WHAT OR WHO TELLS ME I CAN’T.”

There, I screamed it from the top of my fourth story apartment building. Side note; my neighbor Josh just gave me a friendly little knock on the wall, reminding me that sometimes I get a little excited. But hey, I’m a passionate woman. 

And part of my vast collection of leggings is from the large variety that we have here at  SpiritHoods

Our selection of leggings is just as varied as all the personalities that work here. Now, as the comedian and empath of the bunch, I want to assure you that I will address all the issues about leggings and their controversy with complete and utter sensitivity (and a little humor). When I asked Lord Google about all this legging nonsense I keep hearing about, they spit back a lot of information that dates back YEARS. It seems that leggings are an extremely controversial topic.

There are even websites that label "leggings as tights" and they dedicate themselves to spreading their mission of trying to get people to stop wearing them. They even have downloadable printouts where they encourage you to paper blast everyone with messages that I am NOT going to repeat. But  here is the link so you can check them out for yourself. My guess is that whoever is behind this site has NEVER owned a pair of SpiritHoods’ leggings. If they slipped on a pair of super cozy  Arabian leopard velvet leggings, and melted into their softness, they’d be too happy to spew anything venomous. We kinda have that effect. Our mission is to spread love, kindness, inclusivity, fun, and encourage you to tap into your wild nature. And everything else that just leads with the heart. Life is full of its challenges, we definitely don’t want to add to it. So if you want to wear leggings, then BY GEORGE, YOU SHOULD WEAR LEGGINGS! (Sorry Josh!)

Now, having said all that, let’s take a look at when leggings first made their debut. 

The History Of Leggings

Leggings date back centuries and can be traced back to  Ancient Civilizations. And you thought that leggings were born during the Jane Fonda jazzercise video craze in the 1980’s. The 80’s brought us a ton of great things, like the CD player, MTV,  the artificial human heart, the camcorder, prozac, Apple Macintosh personal computer, Microsoft Windows, the disposable camera, and the Nintendo Gameboy to name a few, what it DIDN’T bring us was leggings.  

Throughout history, people have LOVED leggings. It seems that they have literally been around for centuries, serving functionality and fashion, and humans have recognized their rightful place in wardrobes. 

Ancient Greeks and Romans

During this period, people wore leather cloth leg coverings for protection and warmth known as “feminalia” and “braccae.”  Both men and women wore these trouser variations, but there were distinct differences in the garments between the genders. Women’s leg coverings were known as feminalia and were typically made of fabric and worn from the waist down to the ankles. Not only were they designed to protect the legs, but they were used to provide a bit of modesty as well. They were designed to be worn as part of their everyday attire and were usually loose fitting and oftentimes gathered at the waist or inched with a belt. The construction of the materials used varied based on social status, personal preferences, and regional customs. Much of what we’ve come to know about these garments is through archaeological finds, artistic representations, and written descriptions from ancient sources. 

The men of Ancient Rome found themselves protected from the elements by wearing trousers or breeches known as braccae. These garments were made of wool or linen, and like the women, varied stylistically based on status and regional customs. 

Medieval Times

During Medieval Europe from the 5th Century to the late 13th, 14th, or 15th Century (depending upon the region) the “leggings” that were worn by ancient civilizations evolved into garments known as “hose” and both men and women wore them. They were made out of wool, cotton or linen depending upon the seasons and used to protect the legs. They were worn with dresses or tunics and fastened with laces, ties, or cords at the waist or ankles. The wearer was able to tighten the fastening depending upon how tight a fit they wanted from their leggings. And just like the people of earlier civilizations, social status determined whether or not the garments would be adorned with embellishments or intricate embroidery. 

Renaissance Period

From the 14th Century to the 17th Century, hose aka “leggings” continued to be worn primarily by men. Women occasionally wore hose, but the style differed from that of which the men wore. Men’s hose typically covered their entire legs and were made out of knitted wool or silk. Although the colors varied, black, gray, and brown were most commonly worn. Leggings were an integral part of men’s fashion and were usually paired with tunics or a  doublet, a snug fitting jacket. Leggings were considered extremely masculine and men loved wearing them. And people loved looking at the men who loved wearing them. They were a sign of strength and masculinity. Men’s leggings were usually minimally decorated and very plain. I would JUST LOVE to have a time machine and bring a bunch of handsome Renaissance men a few pairs of SpiritHoods  Snakeskin black velvet leggings or some  Holographic rainbow snakeskin foil leggings. Talk about being the best dressed nobleman at the next joust! 

Pre-Colonial Era

Prior to the Europeans making a move from their continent and heading West to North America, many Native Americans and indigenous people wore leggings as part of their everyday attire. These leggings were crafted from animal skins, plant fibers, and other natural materials. They were used to protect people from the elements as well as brush when hunting and gathering, insect bites, and other environmental hazards during everyday life. They were oftentimes adorned with intricate beadwork, fringes, quill work, paint, and embroidery. These leggings were often crafted as separate garments. And they covered the legs from the ankle to just above the knee or thigh, attaching to other clothing items such as skirts or loincloths and then fastened with laces, belts, or ties. 

The 20th Century 

Up until the 20th Century, leggings have been a fashion trend predominantly worn by men. Only recently have women started wearing them. 

Leggings, as we’ve come to know them today, truly emerged during the mid 1900’s. In 1958, Joseph Shivers, a chemist from New Jersey worked at Dupont and was busy developing polymers. He mixed two solutions together and left the mixture to sit overnight, and by accident, lycra was born. Just like me! Surprise mom and dad! Although… so far, lycra has left a bigger impact. But, just you wait! I still have time to make my mark! I’m coming for you lycra! 

Now, back to what I was saying. So Mr. Shivers left the two solutions overnight and came back to discover that they combined, forming a new material that was stretchy and resilient (again, just like me. Sorry, I keep making it about me). He named it Lycra, after the Greek word for “wolf.” Which, of course, all of us at SpiritHoods love. We have so many  wolf pieces. However, not wolf leggings. At least not yet. But this blog could be the start of some faux fur wolf leggings? Crazier things have happened. 

Once lycra was introduced to the world, clothing companies used it in everything from activewear to streetwear. Olivia Newton John had everyone in the 1970’s wanting to wear black leggings, when she donned a pair in the infamous movie poster for “Grease.” Suddenly this garment became a household coveted fashion necessity. The world was falling in love with leggings. 

The 1980’s saw a huge surge in popularity with leggings. Designers were opting for bright colors and bold patterns and pairing them with oversized sweatshirts, leg warmers, and slouchy socks. Ahhhhh the 80’s. Makes me want to clear out my living room and watch Flashdance. I may or may not have memorized the dance number to Irene Cara’s “What A Feeling.” And I may or may not have just paused working on this article for 7 minutes, turned on Youtube and tested myself to see if I “still got it.” (You’ll be pleased to know that I do). 

Then the 1990’s came and the leggings’ abbreviated cousin, the biker short, became a thing. And thanks to fashion always coming back around, biker shorts are a thing again. 

The aughts to today. Leggings are clearly not going anywhere. In fact, they are just becoming more of a staple as people crave comfort and convenience. And they are being worn by more and more people. It’s high time  everyone gets used to them. Now, I’m not here to shame or call anyone out by name, but there was one mother out there that wrote an open letter to women to stop wearing leggings. Her letter sparked so much controversy, that people across the world gathered and had parades in honor of leggings, celebrating women and all our different body types. So please, just leave leggings and women’s bodies and what we wear ALONE. There, I’m done with my very short rant about a very touchy subject for me. 

STYLES OF LEGGINGS

Leggings are no longer JUST straight legged or plain black lycra. There are so many iterations of the legging available today, that I’m gonna break down some of my SpiritHoods’ favorites. And remember our leggings are unisex. Our top picks are just as popular with the men as with the women. 

Velvet Leggings 

I love anything velvet. It just takes something and elevates it. The fact is, there’s a 95% chance that when you see me out and about, I’m gonna be wearing loungewear. I can’t argue with the convenience and ease of just throwing on leggings with a crop top, or a hooded sweatshirt, or sweater, or whatever. But when I throw any of my velvet leggings on with anything, now my outfit becomes a head turner. My favorite ones that we have are the  Snakeskin black velvet leggings. These are perfect for day or night. I have worn these with everything from sneakers to high strappy heels and everything in between. And because my look usually gets thrown together in 5 minutes or less, these leggings up my game in an instant. 

The black panther velvet leggings are another favorite of mine. They’re soft and go well with anything. I usually pair them with the  black panther velvet crop top when I’m feeling “matchy.”

Burnout Velvet Leggings

If you don’t own anything burnout velvet, it’s a MUST for your wardrobe! It is the chicest of velvets. The patterning from the burnout is so beautiful and gives it a sexy look. And I love wearing my  blue burnout velvet leggings with a casual sweatshirt and boots. The juxtaposition is fun and unexpected. And the deep indigo jewel tone color is gorgeous, catching the light just right.  Check out this blog I wrote, where I explain how burnout velvet is made and its history.

Flare Bottom Leggings

I admit, sometimes I can get bored of just wearing straight legged tight ankle classic leggings. Enter flare leggings. Which back in the day we just called yoga pants. But you know the saying by Jonathan Swift, (Or was it Steven King or Winston Churchill or Mark Twain or The BareNaked Ladies) at any rate, someone somewhere said… “Everything old is new again.” And for a perfect marriage of burnout velvet and flare bottoms, I LOVE the  black leopard burnout velvet flare pants. The  safari garden velvet flare pants are super cute if you’re looking for a bolder statement. 

Foil Leggings

SpiritHoods definitely has some of the wildest leggings out there and our foil leggings do not disappoint. I love how they reflect the line and have this nice sheen to them. I’m obsessed with the  bronze python foil leggings. They look awesome paired with black boots and our  black panther faux fur hoodie. And when I just want to have fun, I slip on my  holographic rainbow snakeskin leggings. They instantly make me happy. It’s hard to be in a bad mood wearing them. 

Faux Suede Leggings

I absolutely can NOT leave out the king cheetah faux suede leggings. The feel and texture of these leggings is so soft and luxe and the color and pattern go with literally everything. 

INTERNATIONAL LEGGING DAY

Yup. You read that right. It's now a thing. The world has officially declared its love for leggings. In 2019, Fabletics founded International Legging Day, celebrating this year-round wardrobe staple. October 18th will mark the 5th annual observation of this day, which gives you plenty of time to load up on your favorite SpiritHoods leggings before the celebrations begin. Hey, at least you know what to buy for people on this very important, extremely crucial, and oh-so special holiday. 

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I think you all know by now that we’re voyeurs. We LOVE seeing you in your Spirithoods! Tag us @SpiritHoods in all your legging looks.

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