Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

History of Men’s Leg Wear (Pants) Through the Regency Era by Suzi Love

Welcome to History Undressed, Suzi Love!!! She's written a fascinating piece on Regency clothing for us -- specifically men's leg wear. Love it! Enjoy!

History of Men’s Leg Wear (Pants) Through the Regency Era
by Suzi Love

Many names have been used for men’s leg coverings through history : Latin braccae, loin-cloth, breech-cloth, breech-clout, braies,  britches, Scots Breeks, trousers, pants, pantaloons, knickerbockers, plus fours, jodhpurs etc. Or even Oxford bags, a baggy form of trousers worn by members of Oxford University , especially undergraduates, in England during the early 20th century.

By the early 1800s, men’s clothing was rapidly changing. Culottes, or knee breeches, and their previous distasteful association with rich aristocrats, particularly in France, were being replaced by first pantaloons, and then trousers. ‘Showing-a-leg’ no longer seemed important as clothing, and lifestyles, became more relaxed.

Breeches before the turn of the century were looser fitting around the hips and made of wool, cotton, or linen, while some silk breeches were still worn on very formal occasions or at court. But coats became  higher cut in the front, so waistcoats and pants were more exposed and the style of pants needed to change.  

Breeches were fall-fronted with a broad fall, the early ones being very wide, hip to hip,  and gradually becoming narrower, hip bone to hip bone. Waistbands were buttoned and then the fall closed and buttoned over the top like a bib. A French Fly was fastened down the centre, but Englishmen resisted this style as it was considered a racy French style.

Riding breeches, or buckskin breeches, were still worn for comfort. These were tighter fitting and had either, or both, button and ties for fastening at the knees. They became longer, to the tops of long boots, while for daywear, pantaloons and trousers replaced breeches.

The word ‘Pantaloon’ comes from the French pantalon, from Italian Pantaleone, a traditional character in 16th-century Italian comedy and literally means a covering for each leg from waist to ankle.

Trousers were fairly close fitting and ended around the ankles, with slits on the sides for foot access. Some had under-the-foot straps to keep them anchored in place. For day dress, stirrups were worn under the shoe but for evening wear, under the foot.

Evening dress pantaloons and trousers were generally of white or black kerseymere or cashmere. Peg-Top Trousers, named for a peg-top cone-shaped spinning top,  were wide and pleated at the top and had very narrow ankles.

Evening dress stockings, whether worn with breeches or pantaloons, were white or natural colored silk, though by the 1820s black silk was popular.

Suzi Love is an Australian author of historical romance, from Regency to early Victorian, and from sexy to erotic.

You can find more of her historical articles at http://www.suzilove.com
And more historical men’s fashion at :


Suzi Love said...

Thanks so much for having me here,Eliza.
I love investigating the nitty-gritty of history and delving under the outer layers, especially clothing.

Ana Morgan said...

Super research, Suzi. Thank you (and Eliza) for sharing.

Angelina Jameson said...

Thanks for all the info, Suzi. Great research.:)

Unknown said...

Thank you for the post and the great photos.

Suzi Love said...

Thanks so much for visiting, everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed my research and my historical images because I love collecting them.
And I do love investigating the down and dirty side of the Regency era.