Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Show Must Go On

In 1828, Nelson Howard's role as "bareback rider" in the Buckley and Wicks Circus took on new meaning when his costume failed to arrive on time. Undaunted, he stripped down to his long johns, which -- dubbed "circus tights" -- have been the preferred costume for circus performers ever since.

Reese Witherspoon in Water for Elephants (2011)
Another nineteenth century performer's choice of costume was more calculated. What to wear if you're the most famous French circus aerialist, heart-throb, and body beautiful to boot? Between somersaults, the performer gave it a lot of thought -- and his name -- to the answer: a leotard.

"If you want to be adored," Jules Léotard advised, "put on a more natural garb which does not hide your best features."

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger.


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