Why Are Tights for Men Called Spats? Exploring the Origins and Naming of This Stylish Fashion Trend

Spats, a peculiar fashion accessory of the late 1800s and early 1900s, offer a fascinating insight into the sartorial history of men's footwear. Often mistaken for tights or leggings, spats weren’t designed to cover the entire leg, but rather protect shoes and socks from the unforgiving elements, including mud, rain, and even horse dung. These distinctive accessories catered to the practical needs of elegant gentlemen, serving as a shield against the inclement weather while also adding a touch of sophistication to their attire. Curiously, the term "spats" is derived from the word "spatterdashes," lending an air of mystery and distinctiveness to this unique piece of fashion antiquity.

Are Spats and Leggings the Same?

However, there are some differences between traditional leggings and spats. First, spats are specifically designed for combat sports like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. They’re made of a more durable and stretchy material that can withstand the rigorous movements and grips involved in grappling. Leggings, on the other hand, are generally made for everyday wear and may not have the same level of durability.

For example, they may have reinforced stitching in high-impact areas to prevent tearing during intense training sessions. They may also have a higher waistband to provide extra support and prevent them from slipping down during movement. Leggings, on the other hand, may not have these specific features as they aren’t designed for combat sports.

Spats often come in solid colors or with minimalistic designs, as they’re primarily meant to be worn under a gi or other training gear. Leggings, on the other hand, come in a wide variety of patterns, colors, and designs, as they’re intended for everyday wear and fashion purposes.

Spats are mainly used to protect the skin from mat burns, scratches, and infections during training. They provide an extra layer of protection and prevent direct skin-to-skin contact with your training partners.

They’re meant to be worn under a gi or training gear to protect the skin. So next time you see a BJJ player wearing spats, remember that they aren’t just regular leggings or tights – they’re an essential gear for their sport.

The evolution of spats is a fascinating tale of fashion and functionality. Originally designed as a practical solution for military officers, these accessories soon became a popular trend amongst men and women alike. Over time, spats underwent transformations, being integrated into shoes and boots, and becoming a staple in various formal attire. But why are they called spats? The answer lies in the term’s historical roots as an abbreviation of ‘spatterdash’, reflecting the purpose they served – protecting footwear against mud and dirt.

Why Are They Called Spats?

The term “spats” originated as a shortened version of the word “spatterdash,” which was a name given to a particular type of accessory designed to protect military officers boots from mud and other elements in 18th century England. These early spats were essentially fabric or leather coverings that extended from the ankle to the sole of the shoe, providing an extra layer of protection. Over time, the concept of spats evolved and became more widespread, eventually being adopted by civilians as a fashionable addition to their footwear.

Wearing spats was seen as a sign of sophistication and refinement, and they were frequently worn on formal occasions. They provided an additional layer of insulation, protecting shoes and trousers from dirt, rain, and other elements. They were considered a timeless fashion accessory and remained in vogue for many years.

Famous Individuals Who Popularized Wearing Spats

Famous individuals who popularized wearing spats were influential figures known for their distinctive fashion choices. They donned spats, which were protective coverings for shoes and ankles, to make a fashion statement. However, their influence extended beyond their personal style, as people admired and imitated them, resulting in a widespread trend of wearing spats for a certain period. These individuals became renowned for their unique flair, contributing to the popularity of spats as a fashion accessory among their followers.

In addition to their functionality, spats are a versatile and essential piece of clothing for various combat sports. They provide practitioners with the necessary support and flexibility during training and competition, ensuring optimum performance and minimizing the risk of injuries. Whether you practice jiu jitsu, MMA, or grappling, spats offer a comfortable and protective layer that can be worn without hindering your movements.

What Do Spats Help With?

Spats, often referred to as compression tights, serve several purposes in the world of combat sports and martial arts. These specially designed garments are crafted using a material blend that resists pilling and stretching, ensuring durability and longevity. One of the key benefits of spats is their ability to provide protection during training and competition. The tight fit and compression of spats help to minimize the risk of scratches, cuts, and abrasions, protecting the wearers skin.

Furthermore, spats are an excellent choice for practitioners of MMA (mixed martial arts) and grappling. As they’re designed to be worn under shorts or a gi, spats provide an additional layer of protection and comfort during intense training sessions or competitive bouts. The compression feature of spats promotes better muscle recovery, reducing muscle soreness and fatigue.

Increased Confidence: Wearing Spats Can Boost an Athlete’s Confidence by Providing a Sleek and Professional Appearance, and Enhancing Their Sense of Comfort During Training or Competition.

Wearing spats, which are form-fitting athletic garments, can have a positive impact on an athlete’s confidence. Spats offer a polished and professional look, making athletes feel more stylish and self-assured. Additionally, they provide a greater level of comfort during both training sessions and competitions. By boosting confidence and improving comfort, spats contribute to an athlete’s overall performance.


These accessories were designed to shield one's footwear from the perils of muddy and rainy environments, as well as the unsightly remnants left behind by horses. Whether donning spats for functional purposes or as a stylish addition to their attire, men embraced this accessory that served as a testament to the era's fashion sensibilities.