Are you from the US? If so, a pair of trousers is a garment that comes with a waistband. It also comes with buttoned-loopholes as well as a fly front. A pair of pants is an outer garment. It covers your body from the waist down to your ankles. Each leg has a separate part.
Both the trouser and the pants talk about the same garment. Both these words refer to something you wear that covers the body part from the waist to the ankles. These two words also refer to something you wear with a separate part for each leg.
The only difference between the two is how we use them. The word “trouser” is something you would normally hear in the UK. On the other hand, the term “pants” is something that is common in the US.
We should also emphasize that when in the UK, a pair of pants refer to undergarments. This is not the case in the US. In the US, a pair of pants is something you wear on the outside.
The differences are something we would like to discuss further in this article.
- The Trousers
When you talk about trousers, you are referring to a garment. This is something you wear to cover that part of your body from the waist down. Both legs have their own parts.
For many years, trousers remain to be the standard garment men wear for the lower body. During the later part of the 20th century, women started to wear trousers.
Trousers come with their own fastenings that keep the garment up. Sometimes, the wearer can also use suspenders, braces, or even a belt.
The word “trousers” is something you would hear in people that speak British English.
In the American English language, they call the garment pants. Trousers in the US talk about a tailored-garment that consists of belt loops, a waistband, and a fly front.
- The Pants
As you already know by now, the difference between the two is only a matter of where you are. In the US, they refer to trousers as pants.
When you insist on talking about trousers, you would already be referring to formal pants. These are usually the tailored-pants.
On the other hand, pants in the UK do not refer to trousers. It speaks of a different meaning. In British English, pants are those that they use as undergarments. Pants in the UK refer to underwear.
In the US, what one wears under the pants is underwear. Sometimes, people refer to them as underpants. It can sometimes be panties as well when talking about undergarments for women.
The differences in its use are something important. Not being familiar with these may result in some awkward encounters.
For example, one can easily comment on pants when in the US. But commenting on the pants in the UK may not play well with the British. This is because by then, you would be referring to his undergarments.
But that’s just between the UK and the US. In some other countries, both words have interchangeable definitions. In Australia and some English-speaking parts of Asia, one can use pants and trousers. They both mean the same thing.
In fact, aside from these two terms, other words are also used in other countries. Examples would include terms like slacks, jeans, or khakis. The other varieties would be chinos and corduroys. They all refer to different types of pants or trousers.
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How do you say it – pant or pants?
It should be pants. A pair of pants have two pant legs. The right way to refer to them should be pants. Unless, of course, you work in the fashion industry.
Let’s talk about this some more.
To get a good grasp at why we refer to them as pants, let’s see where the word is from.
The word is from the 1600s. It is the shorter term for pantaloons. We do not hear much of the usage of the word pantaloons these days. But it was the original version.
Originally, it was really pants. The shorter-term came about in the middle of the 1800s. Around 1890, the word “pant” came about.
Well, we do not know for sure. But it could be because pants instead of using pantaloons was a new thing. And people may refer to the whole garment as “pant” as its shortened-term.
But as the years wore on, “pant” became just the garment one wears on one leg. And as there are two legs, the term “a pair of pants” became more widely used. From using “a pair of pants,” over the years, it became just “pants.”
Unless, of course, one is in the fashion industry.
Even up to this day, the word “pant” is still widely used by people in the fashion world. It is common to hear somebody from this industry ask for your pant size.
But if this is the case, is “pants size” correct? The answer is yes. You can either say “pant size” or “pants size.” The latter may be uncommon but is still correct.
But should we suggest, it should always be pants or a pair of pants. That should be the way to go.
Why are trousers called trousers in the UK?
Trousers came about because the robes at the time were not comfortable when on horseback. Those who wore trousers always had the advantage over those wearing robes. In the name of survival in battles, trousers became popular.
Trousers have always been popular in Western countries. It had been since the beginning of recorded time. As of today, trousers are some of the most popular garments for the lower part of the body. While most popular with men, trousers are also common in women.
The first trousers on record were from Greek geographers of the 6th century. It was at a description of the Persian, Eastern, and Central Asian horse riders. Trousers were the common images described in recorded history.
The trousers of the time brought with it comfort for long periods on horseback. This made it the more practical garment of choice during battles at the time.
In fact, even ancient ceramics portray horse riders of both sexes wearing trousers. But the Greeks were not as welcoming to the garment. Most of them found trousers to be a bit ridiculous.
The nickname the Greeks gave trousers at the time was “thulakos.” In English, this should mean “sacks.”
Also, the Romans agreed with the Greeks. At the time, the garment was something they would refer to as clothes only barbarians wear.
But over the years, one cannot simply deny the comfort trousers bring. It became more popular. It spread around the world.
The Evolution of Trousers
At first, trousers were military garments. They were snug shorts. They were loose-fitting trousers that may be a bit baggy at the top and closed at the ankles.
Towards the end of the 14th century, trousers saw an evolution in their design. At this time, tight trousers with foot coverings gained popularity.
At around 1500, its design saw a bit of an exaggeration. There were years when trousers were voluminous. It would balloon over the thighs and tighten at the ankle part. Trousers of this era were from expensive clothing materials. They were of different colors as well.
After this, it saw another evolution. Trousers saw another design of the top slimmed-down into breeches. Trousers at the time would fasten at the knee. But this design did not last long.
Around the 19th century, Edward VII conceptualized the trousers that we see today. It brings a looser fit. It also comes with a button fly.
This is the trousers you are using right now.
Women and Trousers
In its infancy, trousers were garments for males. It went on for many decades. The women at the time would only don long and voluminous skirts as garments.
It was only during the 19th century when women started wearing trousers. Again, it was for horseback riding.
At the end of the 19th century, women started wearing trousers for other activities. They wore them for other sports like cycling and for other leisure activities.
Because of their design, trousers also provide women the freedom to move. They were healthier as well when you compare it with the skirts that women of this era wore.
Despite its growing popularity, trousers on women were not as acceptable to society. This was always the case until around the 1970s.
In fact, before this, there were parts of the globe where trousers were illegal for women.
In the 1970s, the world saw a change in how society sees women dressing up. It was at this time when women can now wear trousers. This, they can do without masculine connotations attached.
What are the other varieties of pants and trousers?
As of this time, there is a wide variety of terms for pants or trousers. The designs may be a bit different. But the origins were from pants and trousers of the glorious past.
There is a wide variety of pants these days. While they may be similar in designs, there would be slight differences that one should note.
Here are a few of them. Take note:
Originally, this was something that describes a style of military uniform. There is another pair of pants related to the military, and we call them khakis. But more on that later.
The khakis can be a bit informal. They can also have varied styles.
Chinos, on the other hand, are plain-fronted. They come as unpleated dress trousers that are quite similar to those we wear as part of a suit ensemble.
Chinos can be in any color. But the most common of them all is in light beige.
When it comes to material, chinos are of a specific cotton weave. It comes with a soft and light texture.
Also, it is now common to find trousers that they list as chinos. They come in different weaves. Should this be the case, know this is an inaccurate misrepresentation of chinos. This is a red flag. The manufacturer is not overly familiar with chinos. Avoid as much as you can.
This, here, is something that business people usually wear. Slacks refer to a kind of pants made from certain materials suited for formal gatherings.
A pair of jeans does not belong to this category.
A pair of slacks can be something that you use together with your suit.
In modern days, there are also times when we refer to women’s pants as slacks while men’s pants as trousers.
A pair of jeans is a type of pants (or trousers, depending on where you are).
The primary identifier of a pair of jeans is their material. It is usually made from denim or dungaree cloth.
Usually, when you say “a pair of jeans,” you refer to a kind of pants (or trousers) they call “blue jeans.” This is something from the inventions of Jacob W. Davis in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co.
Khakis are kinds of pants (or trousers) that identify themselves with their color.
It usually comes in a dull and brownish-yellow color. This is especially common in the military.
As you all know, khaki is a kind of color. It is a color that looks brown with a yellowish hue. This type of pants was something the military used for many years. This also includes camouflage.
Khaki is a color. It has been since the year 1848. This was the time when the military introduced this type of pants as a uniform.
This type of pants (or trousers) refers to those made out of a specific fabric. As the name itself implies, the fabric is corduroy.
One can quickly identify this type of material. It has a unique and ridged pattern to it. The one thing about this type of pants is that they can come in a wide variety of colors. It also comes in many styles.
Corduroys are usually something you wear during informal occasions. It can be ideal for dress-casual or simply casual events. Regardless of the pair’s color or design, this should go well on these occasions.