Well, not tights exactly, but the Regency pantaloons were cut so closely they might as well have been. Other than for formal wear, gone were the days of the looser fitting breeches. Instead wool, linen, cotton or buckskin hugged a gentleman’s legs leaving little to the imagination. And this was in the days before the invention of elastic and lycra, meaning that if they were tight while a man was standing, sitting down would not be comfortable experience.
In fact these trousers were so revealing that some men took to the habit of stuffing their trousers with sawdust and padding to create a shapelier outline, assuming one believes curvy legs on a man to be the height of masculinity. I don’t suppose it is so very different than the padded bras of today, but somehow I can’t quite see my husband in a pair of them. Not that he couldn’t pull it off of course.
Here is an extract from Braving Madness where Betty gets the opportunity to admire Edward’s pantaloons up close.
His legs had looked good in silk breeches but it was nothing compared to the pantaloons he now wore. The button band fastened tightly about his bulging calves and the black wool hugged his thighs.
She continued to lift her gaze, travelling upwards to unseen territory. She gulped. She might never have seen a man naked, but the fabric outlined his… body so tightly she had little use for her imagination.
But he was just a man. It was only that she had so little experience of gentlemen. If you discounted her father and her loathsome cousin, whom she couldn’t, wouldn’t count, Edward was the first gentleman she’d ever really met. She was bound to be a bit taken back and shortness of breath was only natural under the circumstances.