[big ups to Belinda Darcy for pointing me to the inspiration to this article]
Us girls can pretty much take it for granted that we have the choice between wearing pants and skirts in most situations. Even the most formal occasions can be met with a glamorous pantsuit or a lovely tuxedo fit to our bodies. I, for one, have enjoyed the attention I get from wearing a lovely tuxedo with tails and top hat. It’s still a bit different, but not scandalous.
But it wasn’t always this way. Not even for men. Pants themselves were secondary to skirts for men and women in many cultures – and the switch came when activities like horseback riding became more common. As evolutionary biologist Peter Turchin writes in his analysis:
Historically there is a very strong correlation between horse-riding and pants. In Japan, for example, the traditional dress is kimono, but the warrior class (samurai) wore baggy pants (sometimes characterized as a divided skirt), hakama. Before the introduction of horses by Europeans (actually, re-introduction – horses were native to North America, but were hunted to extinction when humans first arrived there), civilized Amerindians wore kilts… [via TheAtlantic]
In the biographical movie Coco Before Chanel, Audrey Tautou’s character appears in a scene riding a horse in altered menswear -pants and a vest- while her feminine companions still ride side saddle in their fancy dresses and plumes.
In 2009 in an article in the Telegraph, it was pointed out that a French rule written in 1800 disallows women to wear pants is still in effect. Though this rule has been updated allowing women on bikes and horses to wear pants and hasn’t been enforced in hundreds of years, it seems to still exist. And although pants on women are perfectly normal for Western nations, there are still quite a few countries in which they are seen as a no-no, whether due to religion or cultural mores. Ostensibly, the air viewed in the separation between the legs is a temptation of sorts. Who knew that the air between our thighs could be so titillating?
But in my opinion, pants have moved well beyond the provocative and masculating (terms that are quite at odds with one another, don’t you think? What is it? Pants are too sexy for us? Or too empowering? Or both?!). As a North American woman, I have a wide array of pant styles and fabrics to choose from: harem, wide leg, high waisted, straight leg, skinny, boot cut, boyfriend cut, crop, palazzo, trousers, cargo, jeans, leggings, tuxedo, khaki, riding, leather, corduroy, silk, linen…the list goes on. Many of these pants are widely celebrated as completely unappealing to the opposite sex as per one of our favorite bloggers, ManRepeller. I’m quite fond of harem pants, though they would probably classify as a-ok to those who protest visible air between our thighs.
In honor of our ability to wear pants freely, I’ve found a couple of great pairs (note: why are pants plural?) for all of us to celebrate: