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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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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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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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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

breechesbiz, Cadíz, Cadiz, fizz, frizz, gee-whiz, his, is, jizz, Liz, Ms, phiz, quiz, squiz, swizz, tizz, viz, whizz, wiz, zizz •louis, Suez •scabies •Celebes, heebie-jeebies •showbiz • laches • Marches • breeches •Indies • undies • hafiz • Kyrgyz •Hedges • Bridges • Hodges • Judges •Rockies • walkies •Gillies, Scillies •pennies • Benares •Jefferies, Jeffreys •Canaries •Delores, Flores, furores •series • miniseries • Furies •congeries • Potteries • molasses •glasses • sunglasses • missus • suffix •falsies • fracases • galluses •Pontine Marshes • species •subspecies • conches • munchies •treatise •civvies, Skivvies •Velázquez • exequies • obsequies •Menzies • elevenses •cosies (US cozies), Moses •Joneses

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Breeches

BREECHES

Breeches are a man's bifurcated outer garment, covering the lower body from waist to knees or just below the knees. The term "breeches" is synonymous with any form of short pants or trousers and has been used to describe several types of men's lower-body undergarments and outer garments from classical Roman dress through the twentieth century. However, breeches as a fashion garment were standard everyday attire for European and American men from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries (American men after 1565). The term comes from Middle English "breech," which was originally the Old English word "bre–c" or "bre'c,"—the –c," a leg covering. The term "breech" also refers to the lower rear part—the haunches or the buttocks—of the human body. Related clothing concepts include breech-cloth or breech-clout, a short cloth covering the loins, also called a loincloth; and breeching, the archaic English term used to refer to the rite of passage in which young boys wearing skirts were dressed in breeches to signify reaching the end of childhood. The term "drawers" is also used synonymously with breeches when referring to a man's knee-length, loosely fitted under-garment of separate legs covering the lower body. However, "drawers" also refers to various women's undergarments that are constructed of separate legs attached to a waistband, especially after the eighteenth plural of "bro century. In common usage today, breeches are essentially distinguished from trousers and pants by length.

Origin and Early Types

Various lower-body undergarments made of linen for men have been referred to as breeches in the history of Western dress. These garments ranged from knee to ankle length and were made of diverse fabrics and by diverse construction techniques. For example, the bracchae, or long, shapeless trousers worn by northern European ethnic groups contrasted with the shorter, knee-length, and more-fitted leg coverings called feminalia worn by Roman soldiers and horsemen through the fifth century. By the end of the twelfth century, the masculine wardrobe included some form of knee-length, loosely fitted, natural-colored linen breeches or drawers called braies that were worn under tunics of varying length. The lower legs were left bare, covered by hose or long stockings of woven cloth, or wrapped with crisscrossed lengths of narrow bands like bandages (sometimes referred to as chausses, from the French, a type of lower-leg chain mail armor). Images throughout the Middle Ages show peasants and laborers working in fields or on building sites dressed only in baggy, natural-colored linen braies, sometimes tucked into brightly colored hose worn with short leather boots or shoes. Higher-status men wore longer tunics that completely covered the linen braies. Braies were held up at the waist or hips by wrapping with a cord or belt and images show them to have been thickly rolled over at the top. They appear to be simply cut and sewn to shape around the legs but open and widely overlapped down the front. The prevalent style appears to have been-constructed of a wide, gathered width of fabric draped from front to back between the legs but left open down both sides and tied around the waist or hips or rolled over the top at the waist.

Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

As hose became longer and more fitted to the shape of the leg, braies also became shorter and more fitted, and by the fifteenth century they were no longer seen as part of the outer wardrobe. By the early fifteenth century, the two separate legs of a pair of hose were joined at the crotch by a tied overlap or a codpiece and attached for support to the bottom of the doublet (a short, close-fitting jacket) with laces called points. This body-dominant style became the primary form of men's lower-body covering through most of the fifteenth century, providing the under layer for a variety of outer garment styles and the expression of regional and decorative design features. In the first half of the sixteenth century, by the 1540s, the full-length style of men's hose was broken up into two or three different sections called stocks (upper and lower, or nether, stocks) and trunk hose. Nether stocks were tightly fitted, knitted stockings covering the lower legs, ending just below or just above the knees, and sometimes fitted with garters under the knees. They were tied into the leg band at the bottom of the upper stocks. Images show peasants and laborers working with points untied between the upper and lower hose, their lower hose rolled over and falling below the calf. The upper stocks, also called canions, covered the thighs and upper legs and were sewn into or tied onto the bottoms of the trunk hose, which covered the lower torso from waist to hips or mid-thigh. Although trunk hose were short and sometimes barely covered the buttocks in back or upper thighs in front, they were full and appeared puffy. Many were padded and constructed with an elaborate codpiece in front, but the codpiece gradually diminished and disappeared after the mid-sixteenth century. Compared with the lower hose, trunk hose were a more substantial garment designed to match the doublet with all of the fashionable and complex slashings (patterns of deliberate cuts in garments, allowing contrasting linings to show through), panes (narrow strips of fabric sewn over a contrasting lining), and parti-colorings of each period. It is a variation of the trunk hose that became the man's outer garment most commonly known as breeches, which also varied in cut and fit. Like hose, trunk hose and early breeches were constructed with pairs of hand-sewn eyelets along the upper edge and were laced or tied to the doublet for support. It was not until the seventeenth century that breeches became a separate, "stand-alone" garment constructed on a waistband, no longer worn suspended from the doublet.

Through the remainder of the sixteenth century, trunk hose expanded, and numerous variations in length and shape were common. Styles called round hose included paned and heavily padded shapes that resembled a ripe melon or pumpkin, ending at or just below the hip. Round hose were shaped and padded with horsehair, wool fleece, cotton, or linen tow. One extreme style of trunk hose rarely seen outside Elizabethan court circles was so abbreviated they resembled a wide pad around the hips, worn with very tightly fitted lower hose. Pluderhose (or pluderhosen, from the German) were another variation of trunk hose that resembled a pair of open breeches. Cut full and long, to below the knee, they were constructed of an under layer of contrasting fabric that spilled out between wide bands or panes of heavier fabric.

Trunk hose were at their most exaggerated in the last two decades of the sixteenth century. Different styles of longer, fuller upper hose called breeches were also fashionable in the late sixteenth century. Variations of breeches included Venetians, which were a baggy garment that were quite wide at the waist and tapered to the knee or just below. They were slightly padded to hold their shape and were constructed with seams on both inner and outer sides of the legs. The fullness at the waist was controlled with wide, deep gathers or cartridge pleats. Voluminous breeches called galligaskins, gally hose, gascoynes (from the French), or slops (also slopp or sloppe, from the Dutch) were cut with extra width at the knees, maintaining a bulky appearance without padding. They had a softer and more informal appearance, drooping slightly over the knees with the extra fullness gathered or pleated into a band just below the knee.

Seventeenth Century

In the first quarter of the seventeenth century, the extreme and rigid shapes of trunk hose softened, and the full, longer breeches like Venetians and galligaskins were the predominant fashion. Many breeches were embellished with a row of ribbon loops or lace "ruffles" below the knees, called boot hose, to span the area between lower edge and boot top. Shorter styles of breeches were constructed with a wide fitted band over the knees or lower thighs also called canions. After mid-century, a shorter style called petticoat breeches or rhinegraves was most fashionable. There were two types, one bifurcated and one open, but both resembled a full wide skirt and many were heavily embellished with rows of ribbons at waist, hem, and side seam. Wide "flounces" of lace or ribbons over the knees were worn with some petticoat breeches. A flounce is a strip of fabric gathered along one edge and attached to the bottom of a garment, such as a skirt, that creates a ruffled effect.

As breeches became longer with varying degrees of fullness in the seventeenth century, the methods for attaching them to the doublet also changed. Earlier trunk hose and breeches were still tied to the doublet lining or waist with laces called points. Ribbon points tied in a bow through the outer waist of the doublet provided an important decorative feature in the early seventeenth century. By the 1620s, however, when breeches replaced trunk hose, they were suspended from the doublet by hooks-and-eyes. Large metal hooks sewn into the waist-band of breeches were attached to hand sewn or metal eyelets on the inside of the doublet waist. By the early 1660s, breeches were no longer tied to the doublet at all, but were fastened instead at the waist with a button or strap and held up on their own by suspending them from a waistband around the body's waist or tying them tightly around the waist with a cord gathered through a sewn channel. Breeches were constructed with a lining, and the center front opening was buttoned up or tied closed. Linen breeches or drawers were also worn as an under-garment with breeches.

Eighteenth Century

By the end of the seventeenth century, breeches were quite simplified in shape and trim, slimmer and more fitted to the shape of the legs, but still cut with fullness in the seat, or over the hips and abdomen. They had a cuff or band that fastened just under the knee and were worn with separate stockings that rolled up over the knee. Throughout the eighteenth century, the fit and details of breeches changed as the style of coat and waistcoat changed. During the first two decades, breeches were virtually hidden under the knee-length vest and coat of the three-piece suit, and a somewhat baggy fit did not matter. As coats were cut away after mid-century, breeches became very slim and fit closely over the thigh and knee. As breeches became slimmer, they were cut on the bias to give movement to tightly-fitted thigh and seat areas. Knee-band closures included narrow cuffs with buckles, buttons, or ties. After 1730, as waistcoats shortened, the front of the breeches over the abdomen was more visible. For a smoother appearance, the buttoned-fly front changed. Breeches were closed down center front with a "fall," a large square flap five to eight inches wide, that buttoned to the waistband to cover an open fly. The center-front buttoned fly remained a less fashionable alternative to falls.

Breeches reached the end of their fashionability as standard men's garments by the early 1790s. Two other alternatives were gaining prominence, and the term "knee breeches" was used to distinguish them from pantaloons and trousers. Trousers were practical, ankle-length, loosely fitted bifurcated garments closely identified with the working class. In France, the combination of knee breeches and silk stockings was called culottes, and it was this elite style seen in such sharp contrast to the working class trousers that identified the French revolutionaries as sans culottes. Pantaloons were a type of longer, closely fitted men's day-wear breeches that fit into the top of riding boots. They became a very fashionable alternative to trousers and were worn with a strap under the sole of a shoe to increase the effect of the clingingly tight fit.

Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

During the first decade of the nineteenth century, fashionable young men preferred pantaloons or trousers while older generations continued to wear knee breeches. After trousers became standard everyday attire for men, breeches with a square front fall and diagonal side pockets were worn as riding breeches. By the 1890s, however, a specialized type of breeches was worn instead for horseback riding. The inside of each leg in these full-cut breeches was made with leather or suede, and tightly fitted wrappings for the lower leg were eventually constructed as part of this garment, creating the shape of the twentieth-century "winged" jodhpurs still used as riding dress. These late-nineteenth-century riding breeches were also worn by women, constructed with a detachable apron worn for modesty when astride a horse. Knee breeches were worn as the correct form of evening dress through the first decade of the nineteenth century and were worn with tailcoats as day-wear through the first quarter of the century. By the 1840s, the use of knee breeches was limited to British full ceremonial court dress. From the 1860s, the term "knickerbockers" was used to describe men's knee breeches with loose, baggy knees and a knee-band fastened by a strap just under the knee. Knickerbockers were worn as informal country dress, with a sweater or Norfolk-style jacket, and for certain sports such as shooting or golf. An early-twentieth-century style of knickerbockers known as "plus fours" were worn when hiking, biking, or playing golf. The name referred to the four inches added to their length to create an exaggerated overhang at the knee. Breeches were also used as livery for household servants such as footmen and chauffeurs in Britain and North America through the early twentieth century. In the twentieth century, a type of knee breeches was worn with leg wraps called puttees by some officers and troops fighting in World War I.

See alsoDoublet; Hosiery, Men's .

bibliography

Arnold, Janet. Patterns of Fashion: The Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c. 1560–1620. London: Macmillan, 1985.

Byrde, Penelope. The Male Image: Men's Fashion in Britain, 1300–1970. London: B. T. Batsford, Ltd., 1979.

Chenoune, Farid. A History of Men's Fashion. Translated by Deke Dusinberre. Paris: Flammarion, 1993.

De Marly, Diana. Fashion for Men: An Illustrated History. London: B. T. Batsford, Ltd., 1985.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume: From Ancient Mesopotamia through the Twentieth Century. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1992.

Tortora, Phyllis G., and Keith Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume: A History of Western Dress. 3rd ed. New York: Fairchild Publications, 1998.

Waugh, Norah. The Cut of Men's Clothes, 1600–1900. New York: Routledge Theatre Arts Books, 1964.

Susan J. Torntore

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Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.