Women leggings refers to several types of leg coverings used by women. Modern usage from the 1960s came to refer to elastic close-fitting garments worn over the legs typically by women, such as leg warmers or tights. Usage from the 18th century refers to men’s wear, usually made of cloth or leather that is wrapped around the leg down to the ankle. In the 19th century leggings usually referred to infants’ leg clothing that were matched with a jacket, as well as leg-wrappings made of leather or wool and worn by soldiers and trappers. Leggings prominently returned to women’s fashion in the 1960s, drawing from the form-fitting clothing of dancers. With the widespread adoption of the synthetic fabric Lycra and the rise in popularity of aerobics, leggings came to further prominence in the 1970s and ’80s, and eventually made their way into streetwear. Leggings are a part of the late 2010s athleisure fashion trend of wearing activewear outside of sporting activities and in casual settings, which became a contentious social norm in the United States.
Leggings in various forms and under various names have been worn for warmth and protection by both men and women throughout the centuries.