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Feminalia

Feminalia

Feminalia were snugly fitting knee-length pants, or breeches. Though the name might suggest that they were worn by women, in fact they were worn most often by men. They were called feminalia because the pants covered the length of the thighbone, or femur.

During the Roman Republic (50927 b.c.e.) men had generally avoided wearing trousers or pants of any kind, considering it a barbaric costume. They had good reason for this idea, for the people they saw wearing clothing on their legs were the barbarians who lived on the outskirts of the areas controlled by Rome, especially the loosely organized Gauls who lived in the colder north, in present-day France. During the Roman Empire (27 b.c.e.476 c.e.), however, Roman soldiers ventured further and further north in pursuit of conquest. Eventually they made their way to Britain, where many men wore pants to protect themselves from the cold. Soon, Roman soldiers, especially horsemen, adopted the short, close-fitting pants of the barbarians, and they returned home with them.

Feminalia never became as popular as the main men's garments, the toga and the tunica, or shirt, but they did become acceptable wear for work or for travel to colder climates. Mounted soldiers, called cavalry, usually wore leather feminalia, similar to the chaps worn by cowboys in the western United States in the nineteenth century. Civilians wore feminalia made from a variety of materials, including wool and cotton. The most famous Roman to wear feminalia was the emperor Augustus Caesar (63 b.c.e.14 c.e.), who wore them through the winter to protect his sometimes fragile health.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

Symons, David J. Costume of Ancient Rome. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

[See also Volume 1, Ancient Rome: Braccae ]

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"Feminalia." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Feminalia." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/feminalia

"Feminalia." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/feminalia

Breeches

Breeches

Breeches remained the most common form of legwear for men in the seventeenth century. There were important changes to breeches in the seventeenth century that brought them closer to the trousers commonly worn today.

For the first few decades of the century breeches remained as they were in the previous centurybaggy, puffy pants that were often given shape with padding known as bombast. By the 1620s, however, men began to discard the padding and wore much slimmer fitting breeches that came to the knee. The breeches were fastened at the knee with a garter, ribbon, or buttons, and at the waist with a button or drawstring. Hose or stockings covered the lower half of men's legs.

These closer-fitting breeches allowed for easy movement and gave men the tall, slim profile that became fashionable in the middle part of the century. As coats, vests, and justaucorps grew longer, however, the breeches were seldom seen. In later centuries breeches would grow longer, eventually extending all the way to the ankle and becoming modern trousers and pants.

A strange version of the breeches that became popular in the 1660s were called petticoat breeches. Baggy like the trunk hose and pumpkin breeches of an earlier era, these breeches were puffed out to look like a skirt worn with petticoats. Men quickly discarded this fashion in favor of normal breeches, which could be made of a variety of fabrics, from wool to silk.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Davis, R.I.; additional material by William-Alan Landes. Men's 17th & 18th Century Costume, Cut & Fashion: Patterns for Men's Costumes. Studio City, CA: Players Press, 2000.

Hart, Avril, and Susan North. Fashion in Detail: From the 17th and 18th Centuries. New York: Rizzoli, 1998.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

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"Breeches." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/breeches

Knee Breeches

Knee Breeches

Knee breeches, or knee-length leg coverings, were worn by men and boys alike throughout the eighteenth century. Knee breeches were worn pulled up over the hips and buttoned in the front without need for a belt or other brace at the waist. Later the center button was replaced with a front panel that buttoned up either side. Braces, or suspenders, were also added at the end of the century; buttoned to the inside of the waistband, braces secured the knee breeches with straps over the shoulders.

At the beginning of the century, knee breeches were fastened just below the knee with ribbons and buttons, and the stockings were pulled up over them. After 1735 knee breeches featured ornamental buckles and buttons at the knee and from that time on were worn on top of the stockings to display these buckles or decorative buttons. As the century continued, knee breeches changed from rather ill-fitting baggy breeches to formfitting garments. The most expensive breeches were made of satin, while those made for common people were of thick cotton or wool cloth. Breeches at the beginning and middle of the century were made of richly patterned fabric and had decorative embroidery. By the end of the century, knee breeches became much less adorned, but the quality of the fit and fabric remained very high. Although pantaloons, or ankle-length pants, began to be worn by some, knee breeches remained the most commonly worn pant for men during the eighteenth century.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Apparel in the Western World. Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

Laver, James. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 4th ed. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 2002.

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"Knee Breeches." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/knee-breeches

breeches

breech·es / ˈbrichiz; ˈbrē-/ • pl. n. short trousers fastened just below the knee. ∎ inf. trousers. PHRASES: too big for one's breeches see big.

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breeches

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