Men in Tights: Superheroes and Fairy-tale Princes

Once upon a time in the enchanting forest of Sherwood, a man named Robin Hood would save damsels in distress and give food to the poor all in a pair of khaki coloured opaque tights.

robin hood in tights

When thinking of where tights came from one would probably associate them with perhaps coming from a feminine source. However, when we go back to the medieval era, most men – princes, emperors, kings, and even servants – would normally flaunt the fitted legwear as part of their daily attire.

In contrast, their female counterparts would stick to wearing a more effeminate selection of long skirts and dresses. Perhaps the closest to tights women would appear in would be a pair of high socks or other similar forms of hosiery. So in reality, the concept of men in tights is not as new as people have made it out to be.

man in tights fashion show

It seems as though the hosiery fashion industry has changed so dramatically over centuries that it has become somewhat unacceptable for men to wear tights. The most acceptable form of legwear for men in this day and age can be considered to be loose-fitted pants or shorts. Other than that, any tight form of legwear worn by a man turns into the talk of the town.

man in tights catwalk

Forget Robin Hood and take for example a fairy-tale prince charming that most women compare their dream man to. This dashing and heroic stud has been presented to a girl from a young age with tights on.  Take the 1959 Disney animation Sleeping Beauty for instance – the bold and courageous Prince Philip is portrayed in a blue pair of flashy tights that compliment his broad white shoulder-padded jacket.

Strangely enough this look has an uncanny resemblance to the one which created a buzz a few years back in one of Calvin Klein’s runway shows.  The bright blue leggings paired with a vest top and wide snow-colour blazer accentuated the male models muscular and chiselled features – a heterosexual woman’s fantasy.

Even if this does happen to be a sheer coincidence, Disney is not closed up to the option of changing the attire of their male characters. Nevertheless, Disney still insists on putting a gallant male in a pair of men’s tights for some reason. Even though the notion of a fairy-tale is to retain a nostalgic charm, the character’s attire can be presented in modern manner – yet it is not. Disney still continues to put their male antagonists in a pair of effeminate tights.

In the more recent production of Disney’s the Princess and the Frog, the male antagonist Prince Naveen is seen in a pair of greenish-grey men’s tights topped off with a set of khaki green boots. Perhaps, Disney presents him this way to show off his muscular legs, to make them more appealing for women from a young age.

Furthermore, are costumes such as these helping inspire fashion designers to put men in tights and cause somewhat of a controversy? This question seeks to be answered. In the meantime, what I wonder is whether men’s tights have the potential to become a part of regular menswear in the near future. This is something only time can tell.

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