Leggings… if there is one article of clothing that has literally invaded every crevasse of our daily lives, yoga pants would have to be it. No matter what direction you look on social media, on the street, grocery store, school classrooms, gymnasiums, or even out to breakfast; leggings can be seen worn nearly everywhere. One thing, in light of the spirit of the highly political season we seem to be in at the moment, it isn’t the republican party, nor the democrats that have panted America with their presence and influence, yes… it is the yoga pant. I would think also, that leggings have a much higher approval rating amongst the American public, both men and women, than either presidential candidate this year. The ladies love leggings for a plethora of reasons: breathability, flexibility, comfort, showing off those curves (and booty), appeal, athletics… the list goes on. The guys… well mostly just like yoga pants for one main reason. But hey, who are we to blame them.
But, we find ourselves salivating over leggings right and left, did anyone ever stop to think for a second as to where these leggings may have actually come from? Were they always the staple of the standard Instagram poses? Or were they something more? Well if you were ever curious, as we were, you are about to take a deep dive into that legacy. If you weren’t curious, well, you can move that heavy cursor, or thumb, and feel free to spend your time elsewhere. We aren’t one to hate. But we can say this before you do choose to leave: Guys, there will be plenty of shots of women in yoga pants to come… and ladies we all know why you chose to stick around: to enrich your mind with a vibrant and exciting history of your favorite fashion statement.
No matter your interest, sit back, rip open a nice hard seltzer, grab your favorite snack, and tune in. We are about to get real.
An Unexpected Beginning for the Legging
Well, like all fascinating stories of clothing, this one goes back to the era of fashion explosion after creeping out of the dark ages. The 14th century was a buzz, not only was the world coming out of a few hundred-year slump, but fashion started to creep back into the daily lives of humans once again. I bet you wouldn’t believe where the leggings first originated. I am sure a lot of you would bet Italy, or maybe even Spain. But no. You’re wrong. Extremely wrong in-fact. Leggings were first credited with appearing in Scotland, and they weren’t worn by women either. Gasp! Right? Men were the true champions of those tight leggings that all those Instagram models love showing their peaches off in.
Except, in this stage in history, men were not as likely to be showing of their peaches. Like many fashion statements today, the original use for leggings was for military purposes and were worn with boots that were made of chainmail or leather. They were also used casually but not at all something to look at, or considered classy. Once the Renaissance hit, the leggings made their way into fashion, and became a true cultural staple. Interestingly enough, leggings were not worn predominantly by women until the 19th century! So, if you think about it, men were wearing leggings and tights a lot longer than the ladies!
Modernization of the Legging and Yoga Pant
The leggings of today didn’t really come to be until the 1950’s. The true stretch legging did not enter into the scene until 1959, but the true evolution started in the mid-50’s. Capri pants paved the way for the overall style, and shape of the leggings which would start their rise later down the road. A major star that helped to kick-start the Capri pants was Audrey Hepburn. This large shift brought the style away from the wide leg, to the slim leg we see today in yoga pants.
Late in the 50’s, 1959 to be specific, the modern legging was finally born. The credit for the first modern legging goes to a company called DuPont which made the world’s first Lycra leggings. These stretchy thin styled pants did not immediately take off, however, until the 1960’s. The leggings quickly started to move away from unisex territory and more towards female use. They quickly started to appear in sport and fitness culture as they began to take off. The stretchy yoga pants were also often styled with miniskirts, platform heels, and shift dresses.
It wasn’t until the 1970’s when the legging had its true explosion onto the fashion scene and trending in a huge way. The leggings of the 70’s were bright and made for the disco scene. Some were even shiny and vibrant for those funky disco clubs of the era.
The 80’s and Yoga Pant Explosion
When people think of toga pants and leggings today, the 80’s really resonates with them. The popularity of the leggings in the 70’s really carried and increased into the 80’s. This explosion was furthered by major pop and musical artists like Madonna. Not only did Madonna wearing this legged companion on stage help to load the gun for the future of the legging, but the aerobics explosion helped to set the bullet into motion. The 80’s brought bold color, style, and an attitude of fun mixed with excitement into the culture of the legging and yoga pant. This cultural infusion helped to set the tone for generations to come for what the legging was to be perceived to be.
The 90’s into the Modern Era
As with all fashion trends, the yoga pants and leggings really started to cool of once the 90’s entered the scene, and the world saw a dramatic change in style (as with any new generational dawn). Hence, those tight spandex pants cooled off a bit, but were not truly gone forever. Larger more baggy pants entered into popularity once again, and the slim, tight leggings or pant style started to vanish into obscurity. The tight pants were more for athletic use, or dancing rather than the large wide range of application that was observed in the 80’s.
Enter the 2000’s. A new thousand-year mark, and the year started with a whole bucket of fear and uncertainty. Computers and the internet were thought to shut down and chaos would ensue. The world was widely thought to end. But, thankfully none of that happened. What did happen, however, was that yoga pants came back, much to men’s viewing pleasure… and women’s excitement. With a popularity that hadn’t been seen in decades, yoga pants were seen being widely worn and accepted throughout the United States and the world. Capri styled leggings started, then followed by full length leggings which replaced the traditional jeans and were seen being worn by women while they were out and about no matter where they were going.
Present Day and 2020’s
Now, it seems like everywhere we look, we see women wearing leggings. Weather it be on social media, the streets, parties, college campuses… the leggings have taken over and yoga pants have truly stood the test of time. It would appear they have no signs of going away. Since the explosion in the early 2000’s yoga pants have clung on strong and now are more high-waisted than their previous ancestors. Leather leggings have also become a popular, outside the gym, style to rock in the streets. However, the fashion industry has embraced comfort; and with the increased stay at home culture, we live in today – it would appear that the comfort fashion trend will be here to stay for some time, and so too will be the legging. Take a look at what leggings we have to offer, maybe you'll be enticed to own a piece of history! Or maybe not... either way... Cheers!