Terminology Tuesday #3 Quirky and curious fashion terms: Gaiters, Spats and Spatterdashes

It’s Terminology Tuesday again and this week in the spotlight is…

Gaiters, Spats and Spatterdashes!

Check out these! Aren’t they just gorgeous!

It’s a crying shame that Les Frivolites appears to have stopped making them. Perhaps someone knows more? I so badly want some. Might need to get handy with my leather stock.


photo source:

kneegaiterslsdemone2 by Les Frivolites


photo source:

gaitersummerblack4 by Les Frivolites

These are awesome for the men folk. Though more ankles cuffs than gaiters. Still…

New Spatsphoto source: 



But now to the point of the post…


Giallo rosso blu... Yellow, red and blue...

The Pope’s Swiss Guards.

Photo source: Flickr 23008537

Coverings for the legs and ankles, made of cloth or leather and buttoned, buckled or laced at the sides, secured by a strap under the foot.

Worn by men from the end of the 18th century to the early 20th century, the gaiter protects the leg and ankle from the dirt and grime of the wearers environment. Originating in the military, the gaiter was later adapted for civilian use.


A carved panel from The Arc de Triumphe, Paris depicting an artistic representation of significant french military history from late 1700’s to mid 1800’s. Spatterdashers or long Gaiters clearly worn by figure in right side of panel.
photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42151532@N04/9290418429/

[Unidentified young soldier in Union sack coat, forage cap, and white gaiters with sword] (LOC)

Unidentified Union Solider. date unknown. American Civil War 1861 to 1865.

photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/5229199090/


From 1820 to 1840 (Victorian times), women and children also adopted the gaiter and then again in the 1890’s until the early 20th century.

Children's Costumes, May 1849Children’s Costumes, May 1849

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/93200061@N03/8478136082/

In the very groovy 1960’s the gaiter was again revisited in vinyl, leather, and cloth, though now for predominantly fashionable reasons.

Well that’s what the powers that be tell me but do you think I could find a suitable image to insert??? No siree.

However we can enjoy this lovely collage of 1960’s footwear…


photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37511919@N06/5146925907/

But there are no gaiters there. SORRY!

These ones are far more modern than the 1960’s but I’m imagining something similarly silly but far more groovy. However I imagine that if these…

Down right silly gaiters. (Or leg warmers)

photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32936167@N02/5207004472/

and these …

photo source: Coureges boots, Powerhouse Museumphoto source: Coureges boots, Powerhouse Museum

got together and had a lovechild it might come close to what they looked like!

In the 1980’s the gaiter was again revitalised and adopted in water repellant fabrics for cross-country skiing and hiking…


photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/graafschap/85793389/

and well, why not? After all they are a most practical item of clothing.

and then there was … Spatterdashes…

As far as I can tell, spatterdashes is just another (although extremely cute and charming) name for gaiters.

High leggings worn by men from the1670’s (so possibly pre dating gaiters) made mainly of leather or canvas and reaching to the knees, they are fastened down the outside of the leg with buttons or buckles.

and now for Spats….

Again, very similar to gaiters however spats are shorter, reaching just over the ankle. Still made of cloth or leather, buttoned at the sides, and held onto the foot by a strap under the instep.

The spat, adopted in the late 1800’s were worn with morning coats generally in white, tan, or grey.

Spatsphoto source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dr_blah/3257544749/

Pair of Parisian dandies.

Regency Dandies

photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pandoozy/8432948269/

From 1914 to 1920 they were also worn by women,

and again from the 1960’s onward.

Firestone Gaiter Ad

No date on this image but I suspect 1930 to 1950’s
photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31447948@N03/5157019863/

oh my goodness, check these out!

spats rubber bootsBuy these babies at www.spats-boots.com!

So what do you think? Should we bring the gaiter back?

Hmmm better get creative!

Happy Tuesday,


To read more Terminology Tuesday posts click on the Culture tag in the “Let’s Talk” cloud top right of the home page.

OR click here to read my previous post.

* Bibliography: The Fairchild Books Dictionary of Fashion 4th Edition by Phyllis G. Tortora and Sandra J. Keiser

Fashion. The Ulitmate Book of Costume and Style. by Dorling Kindersley

2 Comments on “Terminology Tuesday #3 Quirky and curious fashion terms: Gaiters, Spats and Spatterdashes

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