Why Do Men and Women Wear Pants?

Why Do Men and Women Wear Pants?

Guys remember the good old days when men could throw on a tunic, or strap on what looked like your best dressy white bed sheets and a bit of rope and you were good to go fashion wise for the entire year? What happened to the good old Roman days where men could essentially wear togas and tunics? Why can't men still don these most comfortable garments without fear of ridicule and why is it that women are allowed to wear "masculine pants" and men not dabble in women's wear?

Well, for men, horses, war, and your need for power happened and drove your legs straight into pairs of pants for life. Ages ago, in a world without A/C and sewing machines, it would have been really impractical, hot, and time consuming to put on or create a pair of pants. Then along came a lot of war, like a lot of it world wide, and a strange phenomenon happened. Those groups of fighters who donned pants in infantries for practical utilitarian reasons tended to win far more often and dramatically then those who donned skirts, kilts, togas, or some version of. And who doesn't like to win at war?

Pants were seen as the key to not only status, power, and winning, but as a practical garment for long uncomfortable or weather weary rides..not to mention pockets for storage. Seeing as how it would be a long time before cars came into being, pants just became the practical masculine powerful thing for men to wear and it stuck...clearly because you guys have been wearing them ever since.

Contrast this with the ladies of the time. They were either simply not allowed to ride and certainly, not to fight. When they were allowed to ride horses, they were made to do so side saddle. Ironically horses, and war, once again would soon become some of the reasons why women eventually came to wear more masculine clothing and pants in particular. Side saddle is f'in dangerous. You're a lady on a horse in 15 pounds of skirts, hoops, corsets, and crinolines. A horse gets spooked, bucks you off, you get trampled, mangled, injured, or you're killed. Secondly all of the weight and baggage of the old fashionable skirts and dresses would sweep up street trash, became a fire hazard, and led to injury with tripping down stairs especially in inclement weather and were impractical to do much in but sit and stand. When the first bikes came into existence, a pair of bloomers came with it to assist women in their travels, but once off the bike, it was back to her skirts.

Pants officially started making their most shocking mark in women's fashion in 1911, courtesy of French designer Paul Poiret, who created the harem pant. Then in the 30s a few major leading ladies in pictures wore them influencing the trend, but they were still only worn by a few, some rabble rousers, and never formally.

Once again war breaks out and women this time are at home and abroad aiding in the war effort during WWII. Female pilots wore pants and it became ridiculous and impractical for women to work in tight spaces all day long with heavy dangerous machinery without pockets or the ability to move about unencumbered and such wearing a skirt cut to the knee. But once the war ended, there was no more need for factory war effort, and with the most feminine Dior look curling it's fashionable influence around women once more, dresses and skirts were back in again.

Trot on down to the 1960s-70s when the sexual revolution and feminism part 2 happened, the 80s where women began to really in earnest start entering into the male dominated board rooms of America and took on the masculine profile of power driven linebackers with big shoulder pads, and to the 90s where jeans were feminized and sexualized and made cool by popular teen television and you have your answer as to why they are a staple for women today.

We know why women aren't going back to a world filled with dress and skirt dress codes only, but what about men? Why have they not gone back to free flowing toga styles or why don't they throw on the occasional dress? Well, unlike for women wearing pants now, there is no practical reason for it. Wearing a dress/skirt type clothing style would not help men improve upon their jobs, sports, war, or outdoor hobbies. They would in fact probably cause the same exact safety concerns that women had with them which is why women tend not to wear them when doing the same activities. Secondly, a/c has been invented, so unlike the Roman days where it would have been more practical to wear a loose free toga or tunic in the baking sun, the same issue does not exist today. Finally men simply don't want to. Men seemingly place a much higher value on being seen by both men and women as being strictly masculine as defined by cultural norms. By today's standards, the idea of wearing pants is a masculine one even though few men associate women as being masculine who wear pants or shorts unless those women never wear anything but pants.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • Actually women road horses all the time the reason they road side saddle was because it prevented chaffing and the dress from riding up and revealing things they didn't want revealed. Also women did go to war depending on the culture like the shield maidens of scandinavia and the scythians (generally as horse mounted archers) who are most likely the inspiration for the amazonians (in fact many many tomes have been found of women buried with their weapons and having wounds from battel (like crushed skulls and cuts on bone from blades)) It began to become less common when the military began to be standardized and more long term rather then quick skirmishes (which both the scandinavian vikings and the skythians favored while rome for instance whent the opposite route). As for skirts, don't know why women continued using them but clearly it fit their needs (technicly for most of history male and female children both ahd the same style of clothing, usually of a dress like nature, it wasn't until a boys breeching day (between two to eight) that he would wear pants, it was a bit more utilitarian for the hard rigourus work they did compared to the work women did which didn't require as much free movement) As for why men do not, that is simply because its associated with femininity. A man who is like a woman is worthless essentially (as far as society is concerned). Women where valued because they where the deciding factor in reproduction. If you have ten women and ten men and nine of those men die, you still have ten offspring, if the reverse happens you have only one so women became more valuable by simple fact that they where more invested in reproduction. This meant that society used men in the role of the disposable individual (which is why they where the ones going off to war while women could go but only if they wanted and insisted in certain societies (and even then only if they had not had children to take care off since with out nursing which lasted years the child would die)). So back to the dress, if a man is shown as feminine in any way he no longer is useful as a disposable individual, he is feminine and he cannot do the hard labor the risky jobs but because he is still male he cannot be valued for his reproductive value making him deviod of use, again as society is concerned. This is why their is greater stigma for male homosexuality then female and why feminine behavior in men is frowned upon while masculin behavior in women, is not.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • So to be clear about the last sentence of your article - if a woman only wears pants, she'll be seen as masculine, even if she wears feminine blouses, etc? Doesn't seem fair given how uncomfortable skirts and dresses are for me, for reasons you've already mentioned.

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    • Ever heard of the term, "Tomboy?" A lot of girls and women who only wear pants tend to receive that label whether they like it or not, but make no mistake, just as women tend to get that label from men and women alike, so too would a man be labeled by some if he decided to start only wearing dresses and skirts. There are still antiquated notions of girls pink/dresses, men blue/pants. People are going to label you regardless, but you just have to decide to ignore them or define what and who you are.

    • do tight jeans qualify as pants? cuz there's nothing tomboyish about that

    • i prefer jeans on girls.

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What Guys Said 24

  • One thing I see that you missed.

    The invention of high quality, disposable, feminine hygiene products. Pants are not practical for women to wear on every day of the month without them. Also, the wide availability and affordability of high quality laundry detergents makes keeping pants in good condition possible.

    Also, the European little ice age had some effect on the widespread adoption of pants among European men. Greater protection against the elements became needed as average temperatures dropped.

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  • To protect the private part, and avoid exposure.

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  • Protection from the elements and environmental hazards pants are more practical and flexible for hard or outside labor and military combat. They prevent chaffing and protect the legs when riding horses, they don't get caught in bushes or shrubs or get caught on branches and thorns when hunting and are more quiet and don't flow in the breeze or wind so animals won't be alerted to your presence. Pants are more comfortable, they protect the genitals.

    Pants in general are just more practical, comfortable and versatile.

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  • I think I agree with the symbolism aspect of your argument in the last paragraph for example "Who wears the trousers in the relationship?".
    I was going to use the cold argument for Ireland but on reflection my ancestors probably wore kilts and if traditionalists are to be believed often sans underwear.
    I find trousers very uncomfortable but will you see me in a skirt/dress soon, probably not but hold that thought LoL.

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  • Pants are such an amazing feat of technology I have to wear them.

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  • I want to applaud you on a wonderfully written article. The French Revolution and Industrialization played a huge factor as well. Personally I would love to be able to wear a sundress on hot days but my girlfriend nixed that real quick, oh well.

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  • Wow, first the pants as we know them were invented and worn by the Celts. Second I wear a kilt often, and I have no problems with my masculinity and anyone else who does is welcome to spend some time with me while we "discuss" it (ever had your ass kicked by a guy in a kilt?) Anyway interesting, my take.

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    • Actually the oldest known trousers belonged to nomadic horsemen in Central Asia. Second, I'm glad you have no problems with your masculinity. I've painted a broad brush stroke about American societal/cultural norms when it comes to what we as a whole associate with masculine clothing. Kilts are not often worn here for any reason by the male populous. Most would still consider a man in a kilt abnormal to see what they would consider a man in a "skirt." Do I personally care or think more or less of anyone wearing an item of clothing not normally associated with their gender... life is too short. Do you, wear what you want. Be happy.

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    • @heavensgift2girls no not a comment, I had a guy think it was funny to run his hand up my leg, and I put him down for it, etc. People can be a $$ holes. But a comment, I'll usually let slide.

    • That makes more sense. If they are touching you I can understand you getting angry. I know another guy that wore a kilt to some Scottish games and threatened a lot of people that joked about it. So I guess that is the impression he left on me about guys that wear them.

  • Cuz pants are the greatest things since boots. And both together = 💰

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  • So our legs don't get cold

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  • If men had a garment as prolifically versatile as the dress I'd be less jelly. Like, there's hundreds of TYPES of dresses, that can be used for a million different occasions. And anywhere from 5 to 5000 dollars. If you look at it objectively, the dress/skirt is the perfect garment in terms of design and versatility. I just wish we had something like that.

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  • Very interesting discussion of the history of this topic.

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  • I like to wear my kilt. I usually only wear it to Conventions and such but still...

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  • Because real men wear kilts. Serious answer, probably because the pockets back in the day were useful and they wanted something sturdy but more comfortable then the thick hide pants the cowboys used in the 1700-1800's

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  • I don't know, but I like girls in skinny jeans ;)

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  • I'm sorry what? That's like asking why we wear clothes in the first place.

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  • tl dr but pants are comfy and cover your legs while giving you more flexibility than other coverings

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  • I like girly tomboys that wear pants, skirts, dresses, etc.

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  • Personally I wear a kilt 70% of the time like in the movie "Freedom!" Lol hugz 🍀🐶🍀

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  • I really don't care
    what a person wears
    as long as she and him stay covered

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  • I suppose pants are more practical

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What Girls Said 11

  • Dresses are very pretty and they instantly draw attention to the girl wearing them, emphasizing her femininity, but they're just not practical. My main mode of transportation is my bike, and it's cold af the vast majority of the time. I tried riding my bike with a dress on, and I wouldn't do it again. Dresses are more comfortable than pants during hot summer days, but the rest of the time they're not.

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  • We gotta cover our naughty bits. .-.

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  • I've always prefered pants

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  • I hardly wear dresses and skirts now. Just pants.
    Why? Because after wearing tunics (a type of uniform dress) and long skirts Monday through Friday for 13 years, it can get to you.

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  • I guess it's coz in some religion if the woman wasn't intirely clothes she was a slut
    I still see these kinds of womans in the streets in lebanon it's soo freaky (you only the eyes and the rest is black)
    And it's more comfortable for womans to be in jeans! And could be very sexy when it's up to the ass!!

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    • In the major religions, the men and women dressed alike back then. It is only through our ignorance of their culture that we draw different conclusions to the meaning of their words.

  • I always try to stick to skirts and dresses.
    I don't like pants.

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  • I hate pants.

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  • And you're an editor? Do you use tampons or pads what just stuff some old rags up there?

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  • I hate pants, even though they look nicer on me. I love long swishy multi-layer skirts. They are SO COMFORTABLE and give me a sense of security knowing I am enveloped in long layers of soft comfort rather than a single lonely layer of tight harsh annoying pants.
    Plus I can't feel my own thighs together which is pretty annoying.
    Also, medically, the vagina must get proper air circulation which pants, usually tight these days, don't provide. I'm hardly surprised at the increasing number of yeast infection cases which can also lead to all kinds of urinary tract infections (or vise versa) in women.
    I wish those long layered skirts were more of a trend.
    Pants may sometimes be helpful, but not always.

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  • The "thawb" is exclusively men's wear, and is still the custom in the Gulf countries. Yet to most Western eyes it essentially looks like a long white dress. Google it.

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  • Pants are more convenient. Skirts may be prettier, but they require maintenance. You don't want perverts looking up your skirt.

    Personally, if I had to wear a skirt, then I'd choose a nice, modest one. It must be knee-length or longer. I don't do miniskirts. I associate them with sluttiness.

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