Trousers: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately (rather than with cloth stretching across both as in skirts and dresses). The word trousers is used near universally in the UK, but other English-speaking countries such as Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States often refer to such items of clothing as pants. Additional synonyms include slacks, strides, kegs or kex, breeches (sometimes pronounced /ˈbrɪtʃɨz/) or breeks. Historically, as for the West, trousers have been the standard lower-body clothing item for males since the 16th century[citation needed]; by the late 20th century, they had become prevalent for females as well. Trousers are worn at the hips or waist, and may be held up by their own fastenings, a belt, or suspenders (braces). Leggings are form-fitting trousers of a clingy material, often knitted cotton and lycra.



North America, Australia and New Zealand use pants as the general category term, whereas trousers (and sometimes slacks in Australia and the United States) refers, often more formally, to tailored garments with a waistband and (typically) belt-loops and a fly-front. For instance, informal elastic-waist knitted garments would be called trousers.

North Americans call undergarments underwear, underpants, or panties (the last are women's garments specifically) to distinguish them from other pants that are worn on the outside. The term drawers normally refers to undergarments, but in some dialects, may be found as a synonym for "breeches", that is, trousers. In these dialects, the term underdrawers is used for undergarments. In Australia, men's undergarments are called underwear, underpants, undies, under-dacks or jocks.

Speakers in the United Kingdom use trousers as the general category term; pants refers to underwear. In some parts of Scotland, trousers are known as trews; taken from the early Middle English trouse, its plural developed into trousers.

Various people in the contemporary fashion industry use the word pant instead of pants. This is nonstandard usage. The word "pants" is a plurale tantum, always in plural form—much like the words "scissors" and "tongs". A pant, if such a thing existed, would only cover one leg.[1]


Germanic trousers of the 4th century found in the Thorsberg moor, Germany

Nomadic Iranian horsemen invented the trousers and the Iranian Scythians along with the Achaemenid Persians became the early adopters of trousers.[2][3]

In ancient China, only soldiers wore trousers.[citation needed]

Men's clothes in Hungary in the 15th century consisted of a shirt and trousers as underwear, and a dolman worn over them, as well as a short fur-lined or sheepskin coat. Hungarians generally wore simple trousers, only their colour being unusual; the dolman covered the greater part of the trousers.[4]

Trousers appeared in Western European culture at several points in history, but gained their current predominance only in the 16th century, from a Commedia dell'Arte character named Pantalone (the Italian language word for "Trousers").[5] In England in the twelfth century, the rustic often wore long garments to the ankle, rather like trousers, which were really glorified braies. Trouser-like garments, which became rare again in the thirteenth century, vanished during the fourteenth century and scarcely reappeared for six hundred years. [6] The word itself is of Gaelic origin, from the Irish language or Scottish Gaelic, from the Middle Irish word "triubhas" (close-fitting shorts). It is, however, important to note that trews (a form of, originally, tight-fitting leggings, a traditional or derived Scottish garment) were, in fact, not trousers.[7][8]

Men's trousers

Trousers trace their ancestry to the individual hose worn by men in the 15th century (which explains why the word "trousers" is plural). The hose were easy to make and fastened to a doublet at the top with ties called "points". At this time, these were not trousers, but trews, such as can be seen in the 1746 painting by David Morier.[9][10]. As time went by, the two hose were joined, first in the back then across the front, but still leaving a large opening for sanitary functions. Originally, doublets came almost to the knees, effectively covering the private parts, but as fashions changed and doublets became shorter, it became necessary for men to cover their genitals with a codpiece.

By the end of the 16th century, the codpiece had been incorporated into the hose (now usually called "breeches"), which were roughly knee-length and featured a fly or fall front opening.

During the French Revolution, the male citizens of France adopted a working-class costume including ankle-length trousers, or pantaloons, in place of the aristocratic knee-breeches. This style was introduced to England in the early 19th century, possibly by Beau Brummell, and by mid-century had supplanted breeches as fashionable street wear.[11] Breeches survived into the 1940s as the plus-fours or knickers worn for active sports and by young school-boys. Types of breeches are still worn today by baseball and American football players.

Sailors may have played a role in the worldwide dissemination of trousers as a fashion. In the 17th and 18th centuries, sailors wore baggy trousers known as galligaskins. Sailors also pioneered the wearing of jeans, trousers made of denim. These became more popular in the late 19th century in the American West because of their ruggedness and durability.

Women's trousers

Wigan pit brow girl.

Although trousers for women in many countries did not become fashionable until the later 20th century, women began wearing men's trousers (suitably altered) for outdoor work a hundred years earlier.

Starting around the mid 19th Century, Wigan pit brow girls scandalized Victorian society by wearing trousers for their work at the local coal mines. They wore skirts over their trousers and rolled them up to their waist to keep them out of the way. Although pit brow lasses worked above-ground at the pit-head, their task of sorting and shovelling coal involved hard manual labour, so wearing the usual long skirts of the time would have greatly hindered their movements.

Women working the ranches of the 19th century American West also wore trousers for riding. In the early 20th century aviatrices and other working women often wore trousers. Frequent photographs from the 1930s of actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn in trousers helped make trousers acceptable for women. During World War II, women working in factories and doing other forms of "men's work" on war service wore trousers when the work demanded it. In the post-war era, trousers became acceptable casual wear for gardening, the beach, and other leisurely pursuits.

In Britain during the Second World War, because of the rationing of clothing, many women took to wearing their husbands' civilian clothes, including their trousers, to work while their husbands were away from home serving in the armed forces. This was partly because they were seen as practical garments of workwear and partly to allow women to keep their clothing allowance for other uses. As this practice of wearing trousers became more widespread and as the men's clothing wore out, replacements were needed. By the summer of 1944, it was reported that sales of women's trousers were five times more than they had been in the previous year.[12]

In the 1960s, André Courrèges introduced long trousers for women as a fashion item, leading to the era of the pantsuit and designer jeans and the gradual eroding of social prohibitions against girls and women wearing trousers in schools, the workplace and in fine restaurants.

Parts of trousers


Pleats just below the waistband on the front typify many styles of formal and casual trousers, including suit trousers and khakis. There may be one, two, three, or no pleats, which may face either direction. When the pleats open towards the pockets they are called reverse pleats (typical of corduroy trousers) and when they open toward the zipper, they are known as forward pleats.

Some trousers are flat-front (without pleats at the waistband) but may have bellows pockets


Most trouser-makers finish the legs by hemming the bottom to prevent fraying. Trousers with cuffs (turn-ups in British English), after hemming, are rolled outward and sometimes pressed or stitched into place. The main reason for the cuffs is to add weight to the bottom of the leg, to help the drape of the trousers.


A fly (on clothing) consists of a covering over an opening join concealing the mechanism, such as a zip, velcro or buttons used to join the opening. The term is most frequently applied to a short opening in trousers, shorts and other garments covering the lower abdomen and Groin/Penis, which allows the garments to be put on and taken off with greater ease.

Trousers have varied historically in whether or not they have a fly. Originally, hose did not cover the area between the legs. This was instead covered by a doublet or by a codpiece. When breeches were worn, during the Regency period for example, they were fall-fronted (or broad fall). Later, after trousers (pantaloons) were invented, the fly-front (split fall) emerged.[13] The panelled front returned as a sporting option, such as in riding breeches, but is now hardly ever used, a fly being by far the most common fastening. Most flies now use a zipper/zip, though enthusiasts continue to wear button-fly pants, an example of which are Levi's 501 jeans.[citation needed]


Males customarily wear trousers and not skirts or dresses. There are exceptions, however, such as the ceremonial Scottish kilt and Greek foustanella, as well as robes or robe-like clothing like the cassocks of clergy and the academic robes, both rarely worn today in daily use. (See also Men's skirts.)

Convertible Ventilated Trousers shown with one leg cover removed

Based on Deuteronomy 22:5 in the Bible ("The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man"), some groups, such as Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, some Baptists, a few churches of Christ, and a few others believe that women should not wear trousers, but only skirts and dresses. These groups do permit women to wear underpants as long as they are hidden.

Among certain groups, low-rise, baggy trousers exposing underwear became fashionable; for example, among skaters and in 1990s hip hop fashion. This fashion is called sagging.

Cut-offs are homemade shorts made by cutting the legs off trousers, usually after holes have been worn in fabric around the knees. This extends the useful life of the trousers. The remaining leg fabric may be hemmed or left to fray after being cut.


In May 2004 in Louisiana, state legislator Derrick Shepherd proposed a bill that would make it a crime to appear in public wearing trousers below the waist and thereby exposing one's skin or "intimate clothing".[14] The Louisiana bill was retracted after negative public reaction.

In February 2005, Virginia legislators tried to pass a similar law that would have made punishable by a $50 fine: "any person who, while in a public place, intentionally wears and displays his below-waist undergarments, intended to cover a person's intimate parts, in a lewd or indecent manner". (It is not clear whether, with the same coverage by the trousers, exposing underwear was considered worse than exposing bare skin, or whether the latter was already covered by another law.) The law passed in the Virginia House of Delegates. However, various criticisms to it arose. For example, newspaper columnists and radio talk show hosts consistently said that since most people that would be penalized under the law would be young African-American men, the law would thus be a form of discrimination against them. Virginia's state senators voted against passing the law.[15][16]

Carol Broussard, mayor of Delcambre, said that he will sign the proposal unanimously passed by town councillors, so that wearing trousers that reveal one's underwear will lead to a $500 penalty and the risk of six months in jail. "If you expose your private parts, you'll get a fine," said Mr Broussard. He told the Associated Press that people wearing low-slung trousers are "better off taking the pants off and wearing a dress." Ted Ayo, town attorney, said that the new legislation would expand on existing indecent exposure laws in Louisiana: "This is a new ordinance that deals specifically with sagging pants. It's about showing off your underwear in public". Mr. Broussard has received local criticism for the ordinance, with some Delcambre residents claiming that the proposal is racially motivated, due to the popularity of "sagging pants" among black hip-hop fans. However, he responded: "White people wear sagging pants, too."[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ 'Pair of Pants' World Wide Word
  2. ^
  3. ^ book name: The Persian Army 560-330 BC, Author: Nicholas Sekunda, Illustrator: Simon Chew -
  4. ^
  5. ^ Italian Culture in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries eds Michele Marrapodi 2007
  6. ^ Occupational Costume in England from 11th century to 1914 eds Phillis Cunnington and Catherine Lucas Publ A&C black 1976
  7. ^ Gaelic Dictionary eds Boyd Robertson and Ian MacDonald 2004
  8. ^ James MacDonald Reid, Notes on Oral Lore, 2009
  9. ^ James MacDonald Reid, Notes on Scottish Lore, 2009
  10. ^
  11. ^ Gill, Eric (1937). Trousers & The Most Precious Ornament. London: Faber and Faber. OCLC 5034115. 
  12. ^ L.W.N. Smith. Clothes Rationing in World War 2
  13. ^ Croonborg, Frederick: The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring. Croonborg Sartorial Co. New York and Chicago, 1907. p. 123
  14. ^ "House Bill number 1626" (PDF). Legislature of louisiana. Retrieved 2009-09-30. "It shall be unlawful for any person to appear in public wearing his pants below his waist and thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing." 
  15. ^ Bill Tracking - 2005 session > Legislation
  16. ^ LOCI-HEREIN:A Blog About Today And Tommorow,(sic) With Insights From Yesterday.: 50 bucks to Freeball

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

(There is currently no text in this page)

Simple English

Germanic trousers of the 4th century found in the Thorsberg moor, Germany

[[File:|right|thumb|200px|Early use of trousers in France: a sans-culotte by Louis-Léopold Boilly.]]

Trousers (or pants in Canada, South Africa and the United States, and sometimes called slacks or breeches (sometimes pronounced [ˈbrɪtʃɨz])) are a kind of clothing worn on the lower part of the body, covering both legs apart (instead with cloth stretching across both as in skirts and dresses). Historically, as for the West, trousers have been the lower-body clothing item for males since the 16th century; by the late 20th century, they had become prevalent for females as well. Trousers are worn at the hips or waist, and may be held up by their own by a belt, or suspenders (braces).

Other pages

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:
Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address