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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). English-speakers in areas such as Canadamarker, South Africa and the United Statesmarker often refer to such items of clothing as pants. Additional synonyms include slacks, kegs or kex, breeches (sometimes ) or breeks. Historically, as for the West, trousers have been the standard 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 fastenings, a belt, or suspenders (braces). Leggings are form-fitting trousers of a clingy material, often knitted cotton and lycra.

Terminology

North America, Australia and New Zealandmarker use pants as the general category term, where trousers (and sometimes slacks in Australia) 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 never 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. While in Australia, men's undergarments are called underwear, underpants, undies, under-dacks or jocks.

Speakers in the some parts of the United Kingdommarker (mainly Southern England) use trousers as the general category term; pants refers to underwear. However, in other areas of the United Kingdom, such as Northern England, 'pants' is the word used for 'trousers' and does not refer to underwear. In some parts of Scotlandmarker, 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 grammatically non-standard. 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.

History



Nomadic Eurasian horsemen such as the Iranian Scythians, along with Achaemenid Persiansmarker, became early adopters of trousers.

In ancient Chinamarker only soldiers wore trousers.

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.

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"). In England in the twelfth century, the rustic often wore long garments to the ankle, rather like trousers, which are really glorified braies. Trouserlike garments, which became rare again in the thirteenth century, vanished during the fourteenth century and scarcely reappeared for six hundred years.
 The word itself is of Gaelic or Scots Gaelic origin, from the Middle Irish word "triubhas" (close-fitting shorts), however it is important to note that trews (a form of, originally, tight-fitting leggings, a traditional or derived Scottish garment) were, in fact, not trousers.


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.. 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 Englandmarker in the early 19th century, possibly by Beau Brummell, and supplanted breeches as fashionable street wear by mid-century. 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 dissemination of trousers as a fashion around the world. 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.

From the late 19th Century until the 1940s, men's flannel trousers (known as "slacks") had no waist sizes; there was one universal fit for all men (leg lengths were issued, but alterations were a result of turn-ups). These were held up on a very high waist above the stomach, partly by belts but mainly by braces; as a result, the trousers were very baggy.

Women's trousers



Although trousers for women in western countries did not become fashion items 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, Wiganmarker 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 lassies 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, and 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, and in the post-war era trousers became acceptable casual wear for gardening, the beach, and other leisure 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 served away from home 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 clothes wore out, replacements were needed, so that by the summer of 1944 it was reported that sales of women's trousers were five times more than in the previous year.

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 fine restaurants.

Parts of trousers

Pleats

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 khakis and corduroy trousers) and when they open toward the zipper, they are known as forward pleats.

Utilitarian or very casual styles such as jeans, cargo pants, and jorts are flat-front (without pleats at the waistband) but may have bellows pockets.

Cuffs

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.

Fly

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 groin, and to allow garments to be taken on and off with greater ease.

Trousers have varied historically in whether or not they have flies. Originally, hose did not cover between the legs, which was hidden by a doublet or by a codpiece, and when breeches were worn, for example in the Regency period, they were fall-fronted (or broad fall). After trousers (pantaloons) were later invented later the fly-front (split fall) emerged. Later the panelled front returned as a sporting option, such as in riding breeches, but is now hardly used, flies being by far the most common fastening. Most flies now use a zip, though enthusiasts continue to wear button flies.

Society

Males in the modern western world customarily wear trousers and not skirts or dresses. However, there are exceptions, such as the Scottishmarker kilt and the Greekmarker foustanella, worn on ceremonial occasions, as well as robes or robe-like clothing such as the cassocks, etc. of clergy and academic robes (both rarely worn in daily use today). (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 believe that women should not wear trousers, but only skirts and dress.

Among certain groups, low-rise, baggy trousers exposing underwear can become fashionable,for example among skater and in 1990s hip hop fashion despite its prison-based origins. This fashion is called sagging.

Cut-offs consist of 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.

Law

In May 2004 in Louisianamarker, 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".The Louisiana bill was retracted after negative public reaction.

In February 2005, Virginiamarker 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.

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."

See also



References

  1. 'Pair of Pants' World Wide Word
  2. http://mek.oszk.hu/01900/01919/html/index20.html
  3. Italian Culture in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries eds Michele Marrapodi 2007
  4. Occupational Costume in England from 11th century to 1914 eds Phillis Cunnington and Catherine Lucas Publ A&C black 1976
  5. Gaelic Dictionary eds Boyd Robertson and Ian MacDonald 2004
  6. James MacDonald Reid, Notes on Oral Lore, 2009
  7. James MacDonald Reid, Notes on Scottish Lore, 2009
  8. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Battle_of_Culloden.jpg
  9. L.W.N. Smith. Clothes Rationing in World War 2
  10. Croonborg, Frederick: The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring. Croonborg Sartorial Co. New York and Chicago, 1907. p. 123
  11. Bill Tracking - 2005 session > Legislation
  12. LOCI-HEREIN:A Blog About Today And Tommorow,(sic) With Insights From Yesterday.: 50 bucks to Freeball


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