In English-speaking history culottes were originally the knee-breeches commonly worn by gentlemen of the European upper-classes from the late Middle Ages or Renaissance through the early nineteenth century. The style of tight trousers ending just below the knee was popularized in France during the reign of Henry III (1574–1589). Culottes were normally closed and fastened about the leg, to the knee, by buttons, a strap and buckle, or a draw-string. During the French Revolution of 1789–1799, working-class revolutionaries were known as the “sans-culottes” – literally, “without culottes” – a name derived from their rejection of aristocratic apparel. In the United States, only the first five Presidents, from George Washington through James Monroe, wore culottes according to the style of the late 18th century.

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