While the words pants and trousers are often used interchangeably, trousers generally refer to tailored garments with a fitted waistline, pockets, and a zipper. A pant often used to refer to undergarments, is a broader term and can refer to trousers, bloomers, knickerbockers, breeches, slacks, jeans, shorts, and Capri’s.
Leggings are often referred to as pants, but are more akin to hose.
Until the 20th century, Western culture restricted the wearing of pants as an essential garment to men. Before the 20th century, women wore loose pantalettes or drawers under dresses for modesty and warmth. Though actual pants were sometimes seen on women in the late 1800s and in the early part of the 20th century, it was not until the 1970s that the wearing of trousers by women was accepted for business or dress occasions.
The phrase “who wears the pants in the family,” refers to the head of that family and equates the wearing of pants with power and masculinity.
Trousers have been worn in the Western world since ancient times. They are now the most common form of lower-body clothing for men. Practical and comfortable, there’s no wonder that they’ve been adopted by both sexes as part of their everyday dress.
Trousers were first invented because robes are uncomfortable to wear on horseback. In fact, those who wore trousers in battle had the upper hand over those who wore robes. For this reason, civilisations all over the world adopted this form of dress to survive battle.
The first recorded reports of trousers were made by sixth century BC Greek geographers. They noted the appearance of Persian, Eastern and Central Asian horse riders. The comfort they provided from extended periods on horseback made trousers a practical choice.
Images of male and female horse riders wearing trousers can be found on ancient ceramics. You can see an example of this on the vase to the left, depicting an Amazon woman.
Subsequently, the Romans (who held the Greeks in high esteem) rebuffed them as well. They considered them as garments worn by barbarians. But as the empire spread further around the world, trousers gained more popularity. They couldn’t deny the warmth and practicality that trousers offered them.
The Changing Shape of Trousers
Initially, trousers were a military garment. They came in the form of snug shorts or loose fitting trousers that closed at the ankles.
In the late 14th century, they developed into tight trousers with attached foot coverings. This garment had the appearance of hose and was worn by knights underneath plate armour.
By 1500, proportions becoming more and more exaggerated. Trousers were voluminous, ballooning over the thighs and nipping in at the ankle. They were made from ornate cloth, featuring slashes to reveal the colorful lining underneath.
It was only during the 19th century that we started to see trousers like the ones we wear today. They were a looser fit with a button fly, worn in neutral colors.
It was Edward VII, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, who set the trend for trousers as we know them today. He was also the figure who took trousers creases into the mainstream.
Robell Jeans and Trousers showcase the real change that has come in the style of trousers and they offer high quality and authentic trousers.
The development of trousers allowed for a greater range of freedom and movement. While this, initially, was just for the warrior and lower classes, specifically the males in many societies, over history the wearing of trousers has come to symbolize not only a necessity of movement but the choice to be active and to enjoy physical freedoms. Wearing trousers showed cultural and societal changes not only in the ideas of what is masculine and what is feminine but also in what is expected of all members of society.