Women and Pants
Women Wearing Pants
In the Western world, Historically, in that part of the world, women have worn dresses and skirt-like garments while men have worn pants (trousers). During the late 1800s, women started to wear pants for industrial work. During World War II, women wore their husband's pants while they took on jobs, and in the 1970s, pants became especially fashionable for women. Today, pants are worn far more often than skirts by women, and many women wear pants almost all the time.
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.
The Wigan pit brow girls scandalized Victorian society by wearing trousers for their dangerous work in the coal mines. They wore skirts over their trousers and rolled them up to their waist to keep them out of the way.
Wigan Pit Row Lass
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. Actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were often photographed in trousers from the 1930s and 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 were away 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, Andre Courreges introduced long trousers for women as a fashion item, leading to the era of the pantsuit and designer jeans and the gradual eroding of the prohibitions against girls and women wearing trousers in schools, the workplace, and fine restaurants.
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