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Blue jeans - developed as work trousers, today also classic leisure trousers

The trousers are a waist- hugging garment that covers the lower extremities of the wearer in whole or in part. Together with leggings and skirt , it forms the generic term for trousers . Pants are divided into categories depending on the layer position: underpants , overpants and, as extra protection against cold or rain, also overpants. A belt or suspenders can also be used to ensure that the trousers fit better . Some trousers have adjustment options at the waistband or leg ends or legs that can be zipped off.

Word history

Up until the beginning of the modern era , the term “ trousers” in German was used to cover the lower legs and feet, while the word Bruch , which is no longer used today, meant the clothing for the lower abdomen and the thighs. In the 16th century, the term trousers was transferred to a piece of clothing that covered the abdomen and thighs down to the feet. The terms ahd. Hosa, mhd. Pants denote clothing for the (lower) thighs including the feet, and goes back to husõn from old Germanic times, which probably meant the cloth or leather cloth or leather cloth tied with straps around the lower thighs .

Cultural history

The invention of the pants is closely linked with the development of specialized protective clothing for legs and abdomen against cold and mechanical stress, such as. B. when riding, so the first legwear, so-called leg warmers as protection against the cold, was already proven in the ice mummy Ötzi .

Ancient battle on the front of the large Ludovisian battle sarcophagus : Teutons wear trousers and Romans free legs; only the military leader wears pure pants, the Feminalia , which was later also used as running pants

Trousers in a shape comparable to today were worn by equestrian peoples such as the Scythians , Sarmatians and Dacians , but also by the Chinese and Mongols. The oldest specimen of breeches to date was found as part of a grave equipment in the Yanghai burial ground near Turfan and dates back to the end of the 2nd millennium BC. Dated. A German-Chinese team that examined the woven wool trousers as part of the Silk Road Fashion Project found that the trousers consist of three parts, two leg parts and a stepped gusset part, which, thanks to its large width, allowed the legs to be spread sideways, as it was needed when riding . For the production the fabric was not cut to size, but made to measure.

Duke Ulrich zu Mecklenburg with harem pants from which the lining oozes out and with a pubic capsule . Copy by Theodor Fischer after a painting by Cornelius Krommeny in the Doberaner Münster (1587)

Around 750 BC The Germanic tribes took over the ankle-length trousers from other peoples, possibly from the Celts . Trousers are documented among the Germans for the Iron Age . But leg wraps were also worn. The very wide trousers without a bib were held at the waist by a belt . In ancient times, the Romans and Greeks rejected the Germanic and Gallic trousers as uncivilized and barbaric. At the end of the 4th century, when it gradually gained acceptance, beginning with the soldiers of the Roman legions , a decree of the Emperor Flavius ​​Honorius made wearing trousers within the city of Rome a punishable offense in order to maintain the ethnic and cultural demarcation between Roman and Germanicism - a reaction to the increasing threat from the decline of the Western Roman Empire by Germanic invasions and to the fact that more and more Germanic tribes are in Italy, u. a. as mercenaries in the Roman army. Since the end of the Middle Ages it has been a European development that trousers became a status symbol for men and the skirt became uncommon for men, with the exception of the kilt and belted plaid in Scotland and the fustanella in Greece and Albania .

Until the 10th century, long trousers as well as the bruoch and leg warmers (often by the Anglo-Saxons ) were worn in Europe . In the 11th century, leg warmers became popular. In the 14th century the upper garment became shorter, often barely covering the buttocks, thus making underpants and stockings visible. In the middle of the 15th century, pantyhose appeared, which has now become overpants. 50 years later, these tight-fitting trousers only reached the knee, and stockings were worn with them.

The pubic capsule developed from the bib , which has meanwhile been introduced , at the end of the 15th century . Around 1550, shorts came into fashion at the Spanish court, the legs of which were stuffed into spherical shapes with bran or horsehair , the so-called army drum . It was to the doublet angenestelt . Until the 17th century it was the European court clothing for men. Spain abolished it in 1623. The common man wore simple knee-length trousers made of wool. In Germany, in the second half of the 16th century, the citizens wore pump pants or harem pants that had been adopted by the mercenaries .

Elijah Boardman in breeches (culottes), painting by Ralph Earl, 1789

In the 17th century, calf-length straight tube trousers became popular in Europe. The outer seam was decorated with buttons, ribbons or trims. In contrast, tight breeches were worn as courtly men's trousers. From 1655 to 1680 the upper class preferred the Rheingrafenhose , a kind of skirt pants. Then came the culotte , which reached below the knee and was worn by all classes until the French Revolution , as court clothing it was generally longer. It was very tight and was made of the finest tricot fabric for the nobility , under which nothing could actually be hidden. A contemporary commented critically: "Adam was dressed significantly more decently with a fig leaf." The French revolutionaries did not wear culottes, but ankle-length straight trousers and were therefore nicknamed " Sansculottes " ("without culottes").

The new long trousers soon lost their revolutionary aftertaste and became socially acceptable. While in 1789 the Prussian government officials were still forbidden to wear long trousers, omit the wig and keep the hair short, eight years later even the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III showed himself . in such pants. The disposal of the Trinity College in Cambridge that students in the halls or the church in the long pantaloons would appear, regarded as not present, ultimately proved ineffective.

In the Biedermeier period , men's suits were made very body-hugging, with a narrow waist. Quite a few men started to lace up like women, the counterpart to the corset was called a Basque belt . The button fly was introduced around 1850. Until 1860, men's trousers were mostly made of light-colored fabrics with a striking check or stripe pattern. Then the trousers were more subtle and coordinated with the “skirt”, here jackets with a waist seam. Around 1895, knickers became popular as cycling clothing. After the Second World War , jeans conquered the European market.

The suppression of the men's skirt took place against the fierce resistance of conservative circles. Since the 17th century, with a few exceptions, European men only wore trousers and this custom spread throughout the world in the course of colonialism . This is how idioms such as “wear your pants” as a synonym for “have authority” emerged.

History of women's pants

Advert with a cyclist in pants, 1897

Ancient evidence of women wearing trousers can be found in Roman reports ( Tacitus 17) and on depictions of Celts and Teutons . A representation of a Central European woman with trousers can be found next to representations of women in dresses and skirts on the Trajan's Column (113 AD) in Rome.

Later on, European and American women were taboo for centuries to wear trousers. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that female underpants were introduced, which were open at the crotch and were called trousers . The women's pants movement went hand in hand with the emancipation movement . The American suffragette Amelia Bloomer was one of the first to advocate reform clothing and designed ankle-length trousers for women, who were named after her bloomers . She also wore a knee-length dress.

On the theater stage, trouser roles were an erotic sensation: male roles performed by actresses wearing trousers. In ballet, the skirts were shortened, under which tricot trousers became visible, known for example in the French Cancan, which started out in Paris around 1900 and became known worldwide. The success of romantic ballet as well as operetta has to do with these variations of women's trousers.

Riders wore breeches , pant skirts or special riding skirts when they rode in the lady's seat. Trousers and pant skirts came up for women cyclists, a taboo break at the end of the 19th century. The very fact that women even got on their bikes outraged conservative circles in Germany. In 1896, Otto Neumann-Hofer published an article on this phenomenon in the magazine Wiener Mode : “In Germany, the conservative spirit, which dominates the majority of the population, rears up against cycling. […] The most delicate question when it comes to women cycling is undoubtedly the costumefest. It is true that women can also ride two-wheelers in ordinary street toilets […] But it seems that the skirt is condemned to give way to the trousers. [...] The American cyclists held a congress and decided to wear the male costume. The English cyclists follow this example and in France the female skirt is also gradually disappearing on the steel horses […] Yes, the Parisians […] can even be seen in public in their tight, oh, often all too tight bicycle suits, without riding a bicycle . "

As an alternative, cycling costumes came up that were very similar to bloomer clothing. The Belgian cyclist and later pilot Hélène Dutrieu was one of the few who dared to cycle in breeches at the time. Before 1900, restaurants and hotels would refuse entry to women in trousers, and wearing trousers without a bike was punished as a violation of public order.

Women's trousers for sporting activities, such as skiing, made the start, followed by those as part of work clothing. English miners probably wore trousers as early as the 18th century. The same was true for women oystercatchers in European coastal regions. The artist Hugo Höppener , known as Fidus , suggested a kind of overall with bloomers as female work clothes around 1900 . At that time it was not able to assert itself, it was only after 1914 that this clothing was established for factory workers.

Around 1910 designed Parisian designer floor-length culottes -women as an alternative to then fashionable hobble , including Paul Poiret . In the spring of 1911, a number of elegant Parisian women appeared in these trouser dresses , known in French as jupe-culottes , at the horse race in Auteuil , which caused quite a stir in the press. The models were often inspired by the Orient, mostly very elegant, and either had very wide legs or ended in a kind of harem pants that were held together over the ankles. In Germany this fashion was also known as harem dress . At least in Paris and also in London it was worn by a number of women, but mostly only for social occasions and rarely on the street. In Berlin there were crowds of people and traffic jams as soon as a lady in a trouser dress appeared.

The cultural historian Eugen Isolani stated in 1911 that no new clothing fashion had caused such a stir, although he had forgotten the American bloomers :

"One pursues women who dare to let their skirt run out in two parts very low above the feet [...] so that one can hardly notice this novelty and call it trousers, with mocking hoots in the streets, so that the unfortunate culottes have to flee into houses. And that happened in metropolises whose residents are used to being shown some extravaganzas of fashion. "

The cartoonists and satirists eagerly rushed to the new fashion, although few women dared to wear it. One example is the mocking hymn to the culottes that appeared in the Lustige Blätter in 1911 :

“Your tailor is never on vacation! Sews a shock every day! Sells it in huge series, designs it from the finest materials, gives it the best criteria, envelops it in lovely mysteries! It tingles my arteries, the blissful culottes! Does my wife wear one? Who asks that? I'll get the stick! "

On a joke drawing on the same sheet of paper, a short-sighted elderly man says to a woman in trousers:

"I have to tell the old gentleman that his clothes are in a mess."

Two years later the trousers had disappeared from the streets again.

The "pants ban" was broken with the First World War , when many women were forced to work. Factory workers wore overalls , women in the public sector wore uniforms with long trousers (in winter). In 1917 the women who worked as “male substitutes” in the railway service were given long trousers. The “auxiliary officers” received jackets, trousers, gaiters and hats, the workers received a blouse-like jacket and trousers. It was the same clothing that the men had previously worn in these areas, so it was not specially made. During the war this outfit was accepted as necessary without further ado, but women's trousers were considered to be a temporary phenomenon.

Women no longer wanted to do without their trousers.

“As a result of the war, sports trousers became popular among working women sooner than anyone could have guessed, and it would be a worthwhile task to issue a circular to these women to find out which clothes they feel more comfortable in, in their trousers or in the skirt. My personal experiences only extend to a few railway conductors who find their uniforms downright happy and only regret that they have the regulation to put on the annoying coat on the street. And then I know from my gym class what a joy it no longer makes us young women either when we are allowed to move our legs unbound. "

- (Quote from New Women's Clothing and Women's Culture , Issue 1/2, 1918)

In the 1930s, the wide Marlene trousers appeared, they were only worn by a few artists. In the Second World War, working women in trousers were again accepted. The “skirt requirement” was not over after 1945, however: until the 1960s, many schools only allowed girls to wear trousers in winter at best. Dress codes remained in place even longer at Catholic girls' schools . It was not until the late 1960s that women's trousers became socially accepted and the trouser suit for women became fashionable. As a result, however, these clothes were not yet considered “decent” in upscale circles. This compulsory clothing was expressed for men in the need for a tie . The gossip press of that time could repeatedly report about a "trouser scandal". The following examples prove this:

  • The singer Esther Ofarim was denied entry to the bar of the Hamburg Atlantic Hotel in a trouser suit in 1966 .
  • The wife of the English aviator star Townsend was refused entry to the film premiere of "The Battle of Britain" in the Ritz in 1969 . The receptionist stopped them: “Women in trousers are not allowed to enter. Please go and put on feminine clothes! "
  • In 1969, actress Senta Berger was not allowed to go to dinner in a London hotel in an elegant designer suit, but had to change.
  • In international luxury hotels, the trouser ban for women still applied in the 1970s. Until 1970, customers hosted in the London luxury department store Harrods were also undesirable.
  • The then Bundestag Vice- President Richard Jaeger ( CSU ) threatened in 1970 that he would expel any MP who dared to appear in trousers at the plenary session. In the same year Lenelotte von Bothmer ( SPD ) touched on this taboo and gave a speech in the Bundestag , the first woman in a pants suit .
  • In 2010, women in the Indonesian province of Aceh were forbidden to wear pants because they were "lewd clothing". Violators can be punished with up to two weeks in prison.
  • Until 2013, Parisian women were formally prohibited by law from wearing pants in public. There were only exceptions for cyclists and riders. On January 31, 2013, this law was officially repealed.

In the meantime, trousers have largely replaced skirt in everyday and professional life among European, American and Australian women, except in midsummer or as evening wear.

Size information

Size information for trousers is based on the target group (women, men, children) , style (suit trousers, jeans) , origin (European, Anglo-American, others) and clothing type (trousers, underwear) , usually according to clothing sizes . Other size tables are sometimes used in organizations that provide clothing for relatives (e.g. military). Basic parameters for determining the size of trousers are: waist circumference , seat size and step length or body size.

Types of pants

Blue jeans
Black tights

The types of trousers differ essentially in terms of material and cut. When it comes to the ends of the trouser legs, a distinction is made between trousers with and without a turn-up. For a flexible waist , there are pants with pleats . Pants of different designs are worn on different occasions ( jeans , for example, in everyday life, dress pants mostly with crease for celebrations or office, sports pants to sport tights without additional legwear at home). The different types of panties are listed in that article.

Different types of pants are:


  • He's got his pants (painted) full. = He is scared.
  • to tighten someone's pants = to chastise someone
  • the matter went in the pants = it went wrong, didn't work
  • sit down on your trousers (the bottom of your pants) = be hard-working (especially mentally), work hard
  • he (she) has his pants on = He (she) determines where to go
  • he (she) was caught with his pants down = he (she) was found unprepared and surprised.
  • standing there with sawed-off trousers = something planned didn't work out or you were reprimanded for it.
  • here is dead pants = nothing is going on here.
  • Something is jacket like pants = It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter

See also


  • Gundula Wolter : The packaging of the male sex. An illustrated cultural history of the pants. Jonas Verlag, Marburg 1988, ISBN 3-922-561-77-2 .
  • Gundula Wolter: Pants, female. Cultural history of women's pants. Jonas Verlag, Marburg 1994, ISBN 3-89445-176-9 .

Web links

Commons : Pants  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Hose  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Jörg Riecke : Duden, the dictionary of origin Etymology of the German language . 5., rework. Berlin, ISBN 978-3-411-04075-9 , pp. 391 .
  2. Ulrike Beck, Mayke Wagner, Xiao Li et al .: The invention of trousers and its likely affiliation with horseback riding and mobility: A case study of late 2nd millennium BC finds from Turfan in eastern Central Asia. In: Quaternary International , online May 22, 2014, doi: 10.1016 / j.quaint.2014.04.056
  3. a b c Oldest trousers in the world discovered. In: , June 4, 2014
  4. ^ In: Zeitschrift Wissen Plus , Bertelsmann Lexikothek, Brockhaus 4/2014, p. 4
  5. ^ Pohl, Walter: Reimitz, Helmut (1998): Strategies of Distinction: The Construction of Ethnic Communities 300-800 , p. 47
  6. ^ Fear, Andrew: War and Society . In: Sabin, Philip et al. (Ed., 2007): The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare Vol. II, p. 454
  7. Gundula Wolter: The packaging of the male sex ., Marburg 1988, p. 25.
  8. Indonesian province forbids pants. In: Spiegel-Online , May 31, 2010