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Personal Overview

Basics: Rise for name

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General Overview

Basics: Rise

Tracing the progression of fashion over the centuries makes what we wear today all the more meaningful. Technological advances in the processing and manufacture of fiber and fabric along with the birth of mass produced clothes have all played significant roles in the ever changing tide of fashion. Trousers and pants have changed dramatically over the centuries.

Here is a quick trip through their history.

  • During the dark ages, men wore loose baggy pants wrapped over with strips of fabric (usually linen) to keep them up.
  • The middle ages gave birth to leg hose which were worn with anything from doublets to tunics and were often very brightly coloured or patterned.
  • Around 1600, men's leg fashion moved to leg hose and short breeches.

  • In 1820, hosiery progressed to long pantaloons that were strapped under the foot or boot to keep them taut. Pantaloons were either laced in the back or side or strapped using a buckle.

  • In the 1830's, pantaloons gave way to pants. These were slim line, tapered and fastened for the first time by buttons down the front and held up with suspenders. However, the button front fly did not arrive without controversy. Mormon leader Brigham Young was appalled by them and dubbed them ‘fornication pants'!

  • In recalling the history of men's pants we can't forget that the 1850s saw Levi

    Strauss develop canvas pants for the hard working American gold miners. He later exchanged canvas for denim and called the pants ‘jeans' after Genes, the French nickname for Genoa, the town in France where he bought the denim. Today they are an indispensable casual pant.

  • Pleated front pants, called ‘trousers', were introduced in 1870. These were looser than pants, sported cuffed bottoms and resembled the styles we now wear. Trousers were higher in the back to accommodate the suspender buttons, and also had a strap and buckle to adjust the waist measurement. They could be found in solid colours, checked or pinstriped.

  • Both WWI and WWII saw pants once again replace trousers. Pant legs narrowed, cuffs disappeared and jackets were short (just above the crotch); all symptoms of wartime shortages and austerity measures.

  • Pant widths went to extremes in 1927 with Oxford bags having an average hem width of 153 cms (60 inches).

When we compare what men wear today with what was worn in any of the past six centuries, it becomes clear that men's inclination toward fashion has, for the most part, waned considerably. This decline can be traced back to the industrial revolution when men's clothes became plain and practical, and then to the introduction of mass produced clothes at the beginning of World War I. Returning soldiers found the world they returned to had become more serious; clothes had become sensible with no unnecessary embellishments. The search for work also afforded most men less time to indulge in the fancy of dressing-up.

Mass-produced clothes were quick and cheap to buy and had no long boring fittings to contend with. But for all the convenience, we lost the pleasure and comfort of custom- made clothes and the individuality they afforded. Men simply discarded one uniform for another; in a few short years the flair and glamour of male fashion was as dead.

Trousers and pants were originally designed to be worn slightly above a man's natural waistline and held in place with suspenders. Today, trousers should be worn slightly below the waistline and may be held in place by either suspenders or a belt (never both). No well-dressed man would wear them positioned anywhere else, because it is only there that the waist is emphasized and the pants can pass smoothly over the stomach and fall in an even drape to the floor. When worn below the stomach and perched on the hips, they make the stomach appear larger and they need a belt to stop them from falling down.

Low-slung trousers cause the crotch to hang low, making the legs appear shorter. It has only been since the development of the ready-to-wear market that belts have been used with business suits. Before this, pants were fitted properly, braces never allowed pants to fall below the waistline, and belts were only worn with sports wear.