The Evolution of Trousers
Since the adoption of trousers in Western Europe in
Late Antiquity , trousers have been largely worn by men and not by women until the early 20th century.
In 1919, Luisa Capetillo challenged the mainstream society by becoming the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear trousers in public.
Capetillo was sent to jail for what was then considered to be a “crime”, but the judge later dropped the charges against her.
Women increasingly wore trousers as leisurewear in the 1920s and 30s. In the early 20th century female pilots and other working women often wore trousers.
Actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were often photographed in trousers from the 1930s.
During World War II , women working in industrial work in war service wore their husbands’ (suitably altered) trousers, and in the post-war era trousers were still common casual wear for gardening, socialising, and other leisure pursuits.
Similarly, in Britain during the Second World War , because of the rationing of clothing, many women took to wearing their husbands’ civilian clothes to work while their husbands were away in the armed forces.
This was partly because they were seen as work garments, and partly to allow women to keep their clothing allowance for other uses.
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.
Trousers in History
In Asia both women and men have long worn pants for warmth, comfort, and convenience. In Rome and Greece women and men wore tunics.
By the Middle Ages in Europe women were wearing dresses and men were wearing breeches.
After the French Revolution, men took off their high heels, silk stockings, and wigs and began wearing trousers.
In the nineteenth century women put on trousers to ride horses, but they hid them by wearing full skirts on top.
All trousers were pull-ons until the nineteenth century, when front closures using buttons were introduced.
Jeans were the first trousers to put women and men on equal terms.
Until 1970 it was not fashionable and sometimes against the law for women to wear pants in offices, classrooms, and restaurants in the U.S.
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