trouser for women

Concept: I’ve been sitting in this Starbucks and all I’ve seen was beautiful women walk in. Tall women, short women, petite women, skinny women, curvy women, plus size women. Women in dresses, women in trousers and a button up, women in leather, women in lace. I’ve seen Muslim women with beautiful colorful hijabs and Muslim women who let their hair hang free, White women, Asian women and African women. Women with makeup and women without it. Women with their children, women in college. All I’ve seen is beautiful women.

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Appearance of Uzbek Woman in 14 regions of Uzbekistan - Traditional costumes

Uzbek clothes are a part of rich cultural traditions and life style of Uzbek people. In urban places it is uncommon to see people in traditional Uzbek clothes, except during traditional festivities and holidays. But in rural places they are still a part of everyday life.

Uzbek women have traditionally worn halats (calf-length tunic-like dresses with a turned up collar and long sleeves reaching to the wrists) and matching baggy trousers. Surkhandarya women most of all prefer the colors of red nuance as a symbol of well-being. The embroidery pattern was chosen not by chance, it always had magic or practical function. One could judge about the owner’s social status by the patterns, though sometimes they bear other meanings. Sogdian patterns have preserved the traces of Zoroastrian influence. The colors in this region were chosen on the basis of the position in society. For example, prevailing blue and violet nuances in a woman’s dress showed her husband’s pride of place, while greenish motifs were frequently used by peasants and craftsmen. Both Uzbek men and women have traditionally worn four-sided skullcaps called tyubetevka, doppilar or dopy, usually embroidered in white. In the winter they sometimes wear fur hats ( telpeks). You can also see men wearing skullcaps, turbans and wooly atsrakhans.

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“Nowadays you get women in black trousers and everything. The country’s gone to the bloody dogs, it really has.”

reogni replies:

Damn, so until the 1970 women were finally able to wear pants?

I’M GLAD YOU ASKED!

Women have worn trousers off and on when the situation required it for centuries: for instance, here are two female coal mine workers from Wigan in the UK in the 19th century, wearing trousers:

However, trousers didn’t really start becoming common for women until the early 20th century.

According to Wikipedia

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.

Of course, in the 1950s, girls wore trousers, particularly jeans, as leisure wear outside of school hours:

My mom, who was born in 1956 and went to school in the 60s and early 70s, talks about having to wear a skirt or dress to school, and then coming home and changing into play clothes, which often involved pants. When it was particularly cold out, she wore pants under her skirt at the bus stop and took them off in the restroom when she got to school.

The turning point where pants became widely acceptable women’s wear, not just for “play” or dirty pastimes, appears to be the late 60s and early 70s. According to Wikipedia:

In the 1960s, André Courrèges introduced jeans for women, leading to the era of designer jeans. In 1969 Rep. Charlotte Reid (R-Ill.) became the first woman to wear trousers in the U.S. Congress.

For a period in the 1970s, trousers became quite fashionable for women. In the United States, this may be due to the passage of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which declared that dresses could not be required of girls. Dress codes thus changed in public schools across the United States.

Trousers are still becoming increasingly acceptable as “dressy” and formal wear for women:

In 1989 California state senator Rebecca Morgan became the first woman to wear trousers in a U.S. state senate. Women were not allowed to wear trousers on the U.S. Senate floor until 1993. In 1993, Senators Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley Braun wore trousers onto the floor in defiance of the rule, and female support staff followed soon after, with the rule being amended later that year by Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Martha Pope to allow women to wear trousers on the floor so long as they also wore a jacket.

I’m just super looking forward to the day when I can wear jeans and sneakers to all formal events, because I have joint and back problems that prohibit me wearing heels, dress shoes almost always make my feet hurt, sneakers look weird with skirts, and… and I just find skirts uncomfortable? :D *crosses fingers* SOMEDAY!!!

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It’s FRIDAY FASHION FACT time! Last week I gave an overview of the history of trousers (read here.) Today I’m going to talk about how pants became womenswear in the western world. While there were rare cases of  women wearing trousers in the ancient world, it was not until relatively recently that women wearing trousers became an acceptable fashion.

In the early 1850s, there was a very small group of women who advocated for a bifurcated (aka, divided in two) garment for women. This was  during the early days of the crinoline trend, when layers of petticoats made skirts extremely heavy and restricting.  Activist Libby Miller promoted wearing full, loose trousers cinched at the ankles, similar to the Turkish style. She introduced the garment to Amelia Bloomer, editor of the first women’s newspaper, The Lily. Bloomer loved the garment, wore it often, and advocated for it in her newspaper. Thus, these loose trousers were dubbed “bloomers.” However, once the cage crinoline was created, Bloomer declared that was change enough, and so abandoned the bloomer trouser. The garment did not disappear completely, though. A modified version became a popular undergarment, allowing women to adopt reform without shocking polite society.

As technology and society developed towards the end of the 19th Century, there were many who recognized that women’s fashion needed to shift along with it. In the early 1890s, the bicycle became extremely popular, as the “safety bicycle” was invented, and costs came down. It allowed women an independence and freedom they had yet to possess. Yet cycling in a long skirt was extremely difficult, and so the newly formed Lady Cyclists’ Association promoted the Bicycle Suit, a menswear inspired garment with full, knee-length trousers. They became very popular, yet were still considered shocking by many, and scandalous when worn outside of cycling.

It wasn’t until the 1910s that it became somewhat acceptable for women to wear trousers outside of active wear. During World War I, when nearly all the working-age men were off fighting, women took their place in the working world. Those who had jobs in factories, and other such hard labor positions, altered their husbands trousers to wear while working. This was both for the
freedom of movement trousers allowed, as well as to save money and preserve their skirts for social situations. Even during this time, a woman wearing trousers in public was still considered scandalous. When the war ended, there were a bold few who were not so quick to give up the freedom which trousers allowed.

Throughout the 1920s and 30s, it became increasingly common for a woman to wear trousers for leisure. Women more commonly participated in sports, and the rise of the aviator meant an increasing number of female celebrities seen wearing trousers. This was also the case with the rise of the Hollywood Movie
Star, with actresses such as Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn frequently photographed in trousers.

When World War II hit, the situation from WWI repeated itself, with women entering the workforce and wearing their husband’s altered clothing. This time, however, it occurred to an even greater extent, with vast material shortages and clothing rations. This solidified trousers’ position in women’s wardrobes. Though they were still only accepted in casual situations, they continued to increase in popularity throughout the next several decades. There was an additional boost in the 1960s when Yves Saint Laurent introduced the formal trouser. Despite the development, though, women’s trousers are still mainly acceptable only in more casual situations to this day. As we know, though, fashion is constantly
changing.

Want to learn more about the history of women wearing pants? Check out these books:

Women in Pants, by Catherine Smith and Cynthia Greig

100 Years of Fashion, by Cally Blackman

Have a question about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!