In the 1970s a young woman walking home from work in New York saw this billboard. We don’t know who the woman and what she saw, but what we can say is that it didn’t end well.
“I know what it’s like to walk down a street in the spring in Brooklyn at about 10pm and see a billboard for women’s pants,” the ad read. “And I know what it’s like to wear an immodest skirt and high heels and a tights-type shoe on a street corner for several blocks. And, because this girl is so foolish, there will be some comments made about her. It’s an advertising ploy. It could only hurt.”
So, the ad was aimed at one particular generation and one particular industry; that of the young women in their early 20s.
The advertisement was not well received. The billboard was removed shortly thereafter – but not before it had become so well known that its memory still persists.
So what could be the appeal of a tights-type shoe or high heels? Perhaps that’s the issue with the ad? It was targeted specifically at high heels. And while there are a few men’s high heels around today, men are not always inclined to wear them, no matter how desirable they are.
This ad is most certainly not aimed at high heels. And yet that’s what the ad is most clearly about – at some point in men’s lives, a shoe will appear in some form or another and they will want to have it.
So, where did these tights come from?
The earliest known use of tights as footwear came in the 19th century, and in the decades that followed, tights went on to become one of the most popular silhouettes of clothing in the 19th century.
Tights have existed for hundreds of years and, before the 1820s, were often woven into rugs for winter and worn alongside long, flowing coats.
One of the earliest examples of a man’s tights were worn by a courtier and, later, by British soldiers in the Indian and Pacific Islands during the American Revolution.
The idea for the tights was first created in the 1880s by French textile manufacturer and designer Alphonse Mucha, who was inspired by the flapper women, a style prevalent in early- to mid-19th century Paris. The flappers were wearing tights and trousers that reached the thighs and were either flat