Chaps, consisting of leggings and belt, are named after chaparral which is a thick, thorny, low brush, that is designed to protect the legs while horse riding. Unlike trousers they have no seat and are not joined at crotch, but are buckled on over the trousers with the integrated belt. Usually made of leather like material, they were worn for horse riding through bushy terrain. Now, they are used for practical work purposes or for exhibition or show. For example, they have been adapted by cruiser style motorcycle riders like Harley Davidson.
The earliest form of chaps was used by mounted riders while herding cattle in Spain and Mexico
, but there is also evidence that certain design features may have also ascended from the mountain men who copied from the leggings worn by Native Americans. Different styles developed to fit the local climate, terrain and hazards.
There are many types of chaps available such as equestrian, shotgun, batwing, woolies among others. Chaps were sometimes known as “stovepipes” as the legs are straight and narrow. That was the earliest design used by Texas cowboys until the late 1870s. With full length zippers running along the side of the leg, they stopped just above the ankle. Batwing chaps, on the other hand, are cut wide with a flare at the bottom. Generally made of smooth leather, they have two or three fasteners around the thigh, thus allowing great freedom of movement for the lower leg. These chaps are often used by rodeo contestants. Woolies, a slight variant of the shotgun chaps, are made with fleece or with hair-on cowhide, often Angora
lined with canvas on the side. These are the warmest type of chaps and had appeared on the Great Plains somewhere around 1887.
A more fashionable and functional cousin of the chaps is the half chaps. Made of split cowhide, suede or top grain leather, they resemble tall boots. Some half chaps actually give a feeling of tall boots quite well. Additionally, these can be worn over any type of pants, breeches or jodhpurs. Economically, even the most expensive half chaps cost less than a pair of tall leather boots, serving as a great substitute.
Chaps have other uses as well. For example, motorcycle chaps. Usually made of leather with smooth side out, they provide all round protection for the leg. Popular among biker subculture, it also provides partial protection from cuts and scrapes in case of a fall on the roadway. Chaps are also used in fetish fashion and leather subculture where they are often tightly fitted and worn without jeans or any other garment beneath them other than a codpiece. You may want to steam up your bedroom scene with a pair of sexy shiny leather chaps. For great looking fetish chaps go to www.beverlyheels.com.