In Brosiery Through the Ages: A Fond Look Back at Men in Tights, writer Laired Borrelli-Persson shares her fascination with tights-wearing icons through the ages and her discovery that tights have always been menswear.
“As I live in these stretchy knots for about six months of the year, discovering new brands has become a minor obsession, as has finding tights-wearing icons—beyond Edie Sedgwick, who will forever be the patron saint of the pants-less, no matter what the tightsarenotpants manifesto says. This year, while focusing on dance and dancers, I finally found some. Looking at pictures of Rudolf Nureyev (whose photo, Anjelica Huston wrote in her memoir, was pinned to Diana Vreeland’s mood board) led me on a hunt that yielded wonderful images of acrobats, superheroes, and other leggy knights of the garter.
“More modest than separate leggings tied on with ribbons, tights were a predominate feature of menswear for centuries. Their association with contemporary women’s fashion dates to the ’60s, when tights, with a push from Mary Quant, segued from dancers’ studios to the street. There they enabled miniskirts (showing one’s garters was not comme il faut) and other female freedoms.”
She also reflects on the contemporary role of tights on the runway shows of leading designers, and the new trend for men to wear tights and leggings with shorts.
“In the mid-1980s, Jean Paul Gaultier, who has always bended and blended genders, sent men in tights down the runway. More recently, the popularity of skinny jeans—which are but a thickness away from hosiery—and the exponential growth of athleisurewear, not to mention the trend toward androgynous dress, have some men ditching their khakis and sweats in favor of tights/leggings and shorts.”
The feature has a fascinating slideshow of men in tights through the ages.