Why are so many men against fashion

The fight for the pants

Struggle for power

Much earlier than is assumed today, women began to contest the man for power. The battle for pants began: Numerous engravings and woodcuts from the 15th century onwards prove this: a woman tears her husband's pants off, pulling each other's hair, husband and wife fight for a single pair of pants, both of which already have a pant leg got hold of.

However, the controversy over trousers and power does not seem to have expanded into a real war between the sexes until the early 17th century. The "debate pour la coulotte" went into full force. The first public debates on emancipation were held.

First women in pants

At the beginning of the French Revolution, women’s right to have a say was at its height. The clothes of women also became more and more masculine and the first women appeared in trousers on the street. These were the first women's emancipatory movements and, interestingly, they took place long before the first model women's rights activist George Sand.

But the attempt by women to make the new civil rights and achievements of the revolution available to women too failed. Women were again excluded from the public domain.

While the man developed into a performance-oriented businessman in a suit, the woman should reflect on her "natural dispositions", gently, cautiously and with charitable inclinations. Wearing trousers was a thing of the past for women.

Policy debate in the USA

The women's right to pants continued to be discussed elsewhere, specifically in those areas where building a new society was at stake, in the new world. The American Amelia Bloomer became the leading figure in a new fundamental debate and also caused a sensation in Europe with her newly created trouser costume. This consisted of ankle-length pants and a dress that was worn over them.

Many women in America and Europe were delighted. In the northeastern United States, the "bloomer costume" was worn by a few women in society even on official occasions.

In Europe, however, only a few very courageous women dared to appear in bloomers pants. Various initiatives to "improve women's clothing" have also existed in Europe, but in the end, three other factors were decisive in the breakthrough of "pants for women": underpants, sport and war.

Underpants, sports and war

The underpants for women, the "unspeakable" ones, because they were in such an intimate position for the bourgeoisie at that time, had become established from the middle of the 19th century. These first "official" trousers for women were wide and long and were worn "underneath" as a substitute for petticoats. That was a start.

Gymnastics, horse riding and cycling did the rest. Sport also conquered the world of women and practical clothing suitable for various sports took precedence. The long johns were practical in combination with a shorter top. The sport helped overturn traditions.

Pants were also soon irreplaceable for women as work clothes. In the war the men were at the front. The work in coking plants and ammunition factories had to be done by women. The trousers for women were now part of everyday life.

The triumph of women in pants

In the years that followed, the triumph of women in trousers was unstoppable. At least since Marlene Dietrich appeared in a man's suit - that was in the 1930s - the last barriers had fallen.

Cinema and television spread the new fashion in an inflationary manner and the international fashion designers also enthusiastically embraced the trousers for their customers.

The jeans from America, the "blue denim", the blue trousers made of the fabric from Nîmes, did the rest to inspire a whole generation of people for a new lifestyle that was perceived as free, man and woman.

Author: Sabine Coen