In the 21st century, tattoos are as commonplace in men's fashion as neckties.
Although still considered unprofessional in some corporate environments, there are often surprises hiding underneath a 3 piece suit!
It can be hard to decide where to get your first or next tattoo. Consider embracing a bold thigh tattoo or even a full leg sleeve.
In 2019, Leg and thigh tattoos have emerged as the latest tattoo trend.
They're bold and fashionable, but can easily be covered up, even on casual Friday.
Let's explore how tattoos became a casual expression of personal fashion sense, and what makes leg tattoos the top trend for men's fashion today, whether you decide on a full leg sleeve or a single thigh piece.
It's hardly a new idea for men to express themselves with a little ink.
After all, visual clues are how the majority of people make sense of the world around them.
Most people draw conclusions about a new person within seven seconds of meeting them.
While you can hardly say much about yourself in seven seconds, a tattoo can convey a message to the world, whether that message be "I'm a warrior", "I've spent some time in jail", or even "I love Hello Kitty".
The first evidence of tattooing goes back to 3370 BC. The mummified remains of Ozti the Iceman" were found in the Oztal Alps in 1991, his 61 tattoos making him the Justin Bieber of the ancient world.
Staying on trend, the mummy has tattoos on his legs, arms and even ribcage.
Ozti didn't go to a stylish tattoo parlour for these pieces, they were most likely made by rubbing charcoal into strategic cuts on his body-ouch!
Far from the fashionable men's tattoos of today, this mummy's ink is mostly a series of Xs and lines and were possibly part of an acupuncture treatment.
This is no surprise, tattoos were not always treated as casually as they are now.
Today, you wouldn't be surprised to see that your favourite athlete, rapper, or even country singer is sporting some new ink.
In this modern, highly visible, highly Instagrammable world-tattoos are a natural way to assert yourself and show off.
In 2019, pop culture dominates our decisions when it comes to fashion.
In the ancient world and countries unaffected by celebrity, it is a tradition you're born into, and not to be taken lightly.
The word tattoo is thought to have originated from the Samoan "Tatau". In Samoa, ancient tattoo techniques are still practiced.
These traditions are passed down from father to son, and their tools are handmade.
One single piece in Samoa may take weeks to complete, and marks a boy's transition into adulthood.
The completed piece is a sign of strength, and to be unwilling or unable to endure the pain is a point of shame.
As time went on and tattoos were embraced in other parts of the world, tattoos became less about societal significance and had more to do with individual choice, fashion and sometimes deeply personal stories.
In the 17th century, both men and women would adorn themselves for their own private pleasure- the modest fashions of the day keeping their tattoos from judgemental eyes.
Men would often choose to express themselves with leg tattoos, including tattoo socks, a playful choice that's due for a comeback!
By 1910, full body tattoos became popular among people living unconventional lives, especially those who travelled.
Sailors and travelling circus performers would often tell the stories of their lives through their arm, chest and leg tattoos.
If we owe the lineage of tattoos and their popularity to soldiers, sailors, and circus performers- it would only make sense that those leading the charge in modern tattooing would be athletes, performers, and internet celebrities.
David Beckham is a natural choice when it comes to male style icons, and it's no surprise that a decorated soccer player would want to decorate his stems!
He has endorsed luxury cars, alcohol, and has his own line of grooming products with L'Oreal.
His masculine, athletic qualities have made it more accessible for even the "manliest" men to embrace self care and a refined taste in fashion.
He has shown the mainstream world that tattoos can be part of a classy, dignified personal aesthetic.
Beckham may have embraced goofier styles with his wife during the height of her Spice Girls fame, but he has settled into gentlemanly attire.
The sight of multiple tattoos poking out from a freshly pressed dress shirt will definitely turn some heads, and David Beckham shows us the contrast can be very stylish and sophisticated.
Beckham has opted for black and grey tattoos with personal significance to him.
He has a pair of classic cherubs on his calf, showing his spiritual side and appreciation for classic art.
A family man through and through, David likes to show his softer side with his art.
This personal trainer, rugby player and bobsledder may not be as much of a household name as Mr. Beckham, but 144K followers can't be wrong! Simon Dunn is a force to be reckoned with, and his chosen body art reflects it.
After experimenting with smaller tattoos, Dunn has opted for two predatory figures on his muscular thighs: A tiger and a panther.
This choice not only looks great on Dunn's powerful body, it also serves to show he means business.
His thigh tattoos are positioned in such a way that they will be visible when he puts on his rugby shorts- and other players can look out for his jungle cat stealth and power!
You may still be asking yourself if tattoos are appropriate in all the situations you find yourself in.
Thigh tattoos only come out to play when you want them to.
Love him or hate him, this Canadian heartthrob knows how to turn some heads.
Being from a younger generation, Justin has more of the millennial "street style" we normally expect to see on people with tattoos.
Like David Beckham, Justin Bieber's leg tattoos are religious symbols. He sports the traditional praying hands on his ankle adorned with roses, as well as Jesus' face on the back of his calf.
Justin has been known to enjoy excess and isn't shy about showing off his ink while constantly adding something new.
Most of his small tattoos have now been eclipsed by much larger pieces on his arms and chest. Could this be the start of a leg sleeve for Bieber? Most likely!
A lot of people wonder, will tattoos stop me from being able to get a job? Will people take me less seriously if I get tattoos?
And Stephen James is an example of why you can carve out any lifestyle you'd like for yourself, even if you have an unconventional look.
Stephen James has tattoos that start at his chest and keep going down to the tips of his toes.
Stephen has even incorporated the shape of his body into his ink, using his knees to showcase two circular mandalas.
He has a collection of striking tattoos on his legs that seem to radiate out from the mandalas, making a cool collage effect.
After leaving a professional career as a football player, Stephen became a professional model and entrepreneur.
He now owns his own tattoo parlour and barber shop operation, showing that a "business man" doesn't always have to live a button up lifestyle to be taken seriously.
As a fitness model and fashion photographer, Shane Burnell spends plenty of time on both sides of the camera.
His appreciation for aesthetic beauty is evident in his collection of tattoos, there is a balance and symmetry to his collection that seems methodical.
Shane doesn't necessarily have a leg sleeve as far as tattoos go, but he has several striking and well placed pieces all over his legs, including two very large thigh tattoos.
In answer to the question; are women attracted to tattoos?
Shane has plenty of loving photos with his partner in crime, Sinead Cristy Malan.
Of course, if you're even reading this article, you've probably been asking yourself; "Am I ready for my first tattoo?"
Or perhaps you're wondering if it's time to add another piece to your collection of ink.
It's true that different parts of the body take to the tattooing process differently, so it's reasonable to wonder if leg tattoos hurt more than say, arm tattoos.
Of course, tattoos hurt! Tattooing is the permanent process of pushing ink into the first few layers of skin with a moving needle, so there's no way of getting around a little bit of discomfort.
Everyone has different sensitivities and pain thresholds, so it's impossible to tell how a new tattoo will feel for you until you try it.
The good news about leg and thigh tattoos is that, according to a pain chart from tattoos-hurt.com, they are some of the least painful tattoos to get, particularly if you are well muscled.
The more plump and "taut" the skin is, the better canvas it makes, and the less painful it will be.
Because legs and thighs tend to be quite fleshy and muscular, they are much less painful than areas of the body without as much covering or protection.
So, with thigh tattoos or leg sleeves, not only do you have the benefit of privacy when you'd like it- you might also be able to easily handle the pain in your session.
One thing to keep in mind is that your skin is an organ, and the health of that organ depends on you.
Tattoo artists are there to help, but there are definitely some things you can do to make your session easier on both parties.
Stay hydrated! Hydrated skin is much healthier and easier to tattoo.
Drink plenty of water, get an unscented lotion and start applying it every day, especially when you get out of the shower.
Shave the area. Tattoos and hair don't go well together!
If you've never shaved your legs before, enlist the help of a fancy friend. You don't want to risk getting a scrape and having to postpone your new ink.
Use a rich shaving cream, and allow your skin to rest for a minute before applying your moisturizer.
Carbo load. You need to be well nourished so you're up for the task, and you may not feel like eating immediately after a tattoo.
Eat a nice meal before hand and make a day of it.
Get a good night's rest before your tattoo appointment, and stay sober.
Being hungover or under the influence of drugs and alcohol can make the tattooing process dangerous.
Not only will you be out of touch with your natural reactions to pain, but alcohol will thin your blood, making for an unnecessarily messy experience.
One of the best things when tattooing your leg is the fact that you can choose between various styles and themes from trash polka tattoos to biomechanical tattoos or between colored vs. black and grey tattoos.
Scroll down to see our top picks and get inspired!
Some parts of the leg are bendier than others, so it's inevitable you may be back for some touch ups if you get a tattoo on or around your knees.
To make sure your tattoo heals as nicely as possible, just use common sense. Keep the wrapping on for a few hours, and avoid scrubbing or rubbing the area excessively. Wash your tattoo gently with fragrance free soap, and don't submerge the area in water until it's fully healed. Try to wear loose, comfortable clothing that hides the tattoo area from the sun- a healing tattoo and sunscreen are not a great mix.
Use an unscented lotion as recommended by your tattoo artist, and if you scab over, resist the urge to pick.
Your tattoo should be all the way healed in 4 weeks, so don't plan one during a vacation where skimpy outerwear is encouraged!
So, will you be embracing the leg tattoo trend? Or sticking to funny ties on casual Friday?
What's your favourite leg tattoo? Tell us here!