The History of Women's Pants
We at LIVSN believe that all legs—regardless of size, shape, color, and owner gender—deserve a solid pair of pants to protect them from whatever the world might hurl their way next.
While men have enjoyed access to pants for millennia, for our female counterparts, the road to trouser freedom has been far more tumultuous and trying.
In this article, we will dig into the where, when, and perhaps most importantly, the why behind the history of women’s pants. It’s a tale whose threads stretch back centuries, that includes tragedy and triumph in equal parts, and at the last seam, unfettered leg freedom found at long last.
Ancient Examples of Women’s Pants
As all educated pants enthusiasts know, the first examples of trousers appeared roughly 1,000 BCE near the Eurasian steppe. The nomadic people saw the advantages of pants in the greater flexibility while on horseback and warmth during winter.
In these ancient communities, some women wore pants in equal form and fashion to men. Once adopted by the more settled city-states though, pants became strictly limited as military clothing for men.
Still, even in the hazy mythological period, there were notable social outliers with steel in their hearts and pants on their legs.
The mighty Amazons, an all-female warrior band of women, unapologetically wore pants as they battled men and mythological beings like centaurs alike. These women regularly squared off—and often won—against famous male figures like Hercules and mythological beasts such as centaurs.
This group is loosely pinned to have operated out of the Anatolia area in Turkey. An interesting note as we’ll later see the region being something of a forerunner in the women’s pants race when compared to the more slowly adopting western world.
Over centuries pants shifted from military uniforms to refined garments for aristocrats and rural workwear. This is where our next notable figure enters the scene, French revolutionary Joan of Arc.
Along with winning entirely too many battles, the British criticized and tried Joan of Arc specifically for wearing male clothing. In these strange times of the 15th century, women merely wearing male clothing articles were seen as grounds for a capital offense. Joan of Arc promised to never do so again, promptly did so again upon release, and was then executed for her noble efforts.
While women lost a military leader and feminist figure centuries ahead of her time, they gained a cultural figure whose name became synonymous with freedom and independence. The British thought they had stemmed the tide of women’s pants at its source.
However, the people had seen that not only could a woman successfully lead armies into battle, but they could also wear pants—and daresay—look good doing it.
Early Modern Women’s Pants Era
The flame of women’s pants had been stifled but not entirely snuffed our, and there it laid dormant. In the early 18th century, the idea of women’s pants became rekindled by wealthy Europeans who traveled to foreign lands and returned with new ideas of grandeur.
These vacationing Europeans noticed Turkish women of all classes wearing loose-fitting garments around their legs, commonly known now as harem pants. The women liked what they saw in the relaxed style, envisioned them adopted in a more western style, and brought their pants plots back home.
Another boon to women’s pants came in the form of bloomers. They became popularized in the West in the 1800s and served as something of a gateway garment to full-fledged women’s pants. Additional support came as bicycles grew in popularity throughout the upper class, and pants became the only practical way for aristocratic women to ride.
An early signal of women’s rights though, some still sought to stop the spread of women's pants at the seam. Yet if human history has shown us anything, it’s that the advancement and proliferation of pants is inevitable.
Industrial Women’s Work Pants
The wave of women’s pants was held at bay by cultural pressure for centuries. As world wars broke out throughout the 20th century though, these petty concerns fell in the face of economic and logistical necessity.
By then, women’s pants had long been adopted in rural areas for their practicality. In the face of war, even ardent naysayers fell silent as women’s work pants became essential to keep vital production lines operational.
Pants proved to be as effective in the factory line as they did in the fields. Once the advantages and comforts of pants became common among women, it was impossible to stop them from growing beyond workwear to everyday life.
Women’s Pants Refuse to Fold
Throughout the 20th century, at long last women’s work pants leaped into fashion and common usage. Much like overalls became associated with the civil rights movement, women’s pants became emblematic of the women’s suffrage movement and gender equality.
By the 1950s, women’s pants were viewed as informal but still generally accepted, especially for recreational activities. A few decades later, the and the last negative stigma surrounding women's pants was dispelled in the western world.
By the turn of the 21st century, women's pants of every color, fabric, and cut became common and justly praised. We believe with this balance achieved, the world became a better place for pants and humanity alike.
Women’s Outdoor Pants & More
These days women’s pants have become so ubiquitous they hardly raise an eye throughout most of the world, but it is important to note how this was not always so.
A mere century ago, sporting pants socially would have been seen as highly undignified. Even further back, grounds for legal action and worse. While the basic concept of pants has stayed steady since ancient times, it has taken humans considerable time and strife to allow all to enjoy their comforts.
While great strides have been made in the field of women’s pants, far too often they fail to receive the same level of attention and care as their male counterparts. Women’s pants are notorious for their lack of usable pockets and other usable features, a vestige of the limiting “style over practicality” mindset of years past.
The historical pockets of pants are deep, filled with some of humanity’s finest and worst moments. We here at LIVSN humbly offer our designs of women’s outdoor pants as a continuation of the positive aspects of this proud tradition and hope both our men’s and women’s pants enable a lifetime of adventure that fits all.