or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Why are they called trousers?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Why are they called trousers?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
What is the difference between trousers, pants and slacks? And why are trousers called trousers? I'm just curious, always kind of wondered that. Every time I say "trousers", my girlfriend giggles. How silly.
post #2 of 29
I believe the origin of the term "trouser" goes back the late 18th Century in England.  The first trousers were sort of like cowboy chaps.  They were designed to cover up knee breeches and silk hose when riding horses, to protect them from wear and the elements.  Trousers eventually evolved out of the "outerwear" status and into a garment worn next to the skin. "Slacks", I believe, is an American neologism created by the menswear industry around the turn of the (last) century to distinguish odd trousers (dubbed "slacks") from trousers worn  with suits. I don't know the precise etymology of either word, however.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hmmm. Interesting. I had thought it might originate from one of the Germanic tribes - the Vandals or the Ostrogoths, both of whom wore pants, and whose victories in the western Roman empire led to the adoption of pants by those citizens.
post #4 of 29
Also, when British people say "pants", they're generally referring to underwear. The precise etymology: The British are odd.
post #5 of 29
I doubt it. Nearly all of the clothes we wear today are English in origin. Of course, it's also possible that the English simply stole the idea and refused to give credit. Possible, but I doubt it.
post #6 of 29
linux - Your new avatar - MUCH nicer.
post #7 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I doubt it. Nearly all of the clothes we wear today are English in origin. Of course, it's also possible that the English simply stole the idea and refused to give credit. Possible, but I doubt it.
The word "English" is an evolution of Angles. The "original" British people were slaughtered wholesale by various invading primarily Anglo and Saxon (separate) tribes during invasions between 300-900 AD (the Angles, Saxons and VIkings all invaded in separate periods). Extremely few modern Londoners could claim indigenous bloodlines or cultural history. At some point, their blood is of Germanic/French/Viking (Danish) ancestry. Brian Boru claimed to be of an original indigenous (and non-gaelic, or true Celtic) bloodline of the "British Isles", hence his hatred towards (and victorious battles over) the "invading" Vikings in Ireland. What is interesting is that the name "Briton" came from Roman invaders, as did "Scots" to describe the war tribes of Ireland. Heh heh. The Celtics are the true indigenous peoples of the British Isles, along with the Pictish people, although they were considered Celtics by the other Celtics, and only the ROmans called them "Picts." As invading Vikings, Saxons and Angles variously slaughtered the indigenous Celtic people, they fled North to "Scotland." Kenneth MacAlpin united the Scots and Picts (reminding them they were all of Celtic blood) and defended the true indigenous (or Celtic) people from the repeated, continued raids of the Vikings and Saxons (and also began the process of a United Scotland). I guess my point is to say that everything English actually finds its origins in the Germanic traditions of the Angles and Saxons, including the language and the name itself, which would explain pants. Unless, of course, you are describing a Celtic custom. So to all you English people - you are not truly English unless you are Celtic. Heh heh. And you wear pants because that was the custom of the barbarians who invaded and settled England. Pants were the custom of Germanic barbarian tribes (the sight of which horrified quite a few Roman historians, as they left quite colorful descriptions of their first encounters with pants). Anyways... that's my little tidbit about pants. But I wasn't sure where the distinction lies between pants and trousers, and how the name "trouser" came about, although Manton's previous post may have explained it.
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
linux - Your new avatar - MUCH nicer.
Thank you. It's James Cagney. I've always loved him best, as he is Irish like me, and a real fighter. I loved that guy's spirit. And I hate to say it, but he coulda kicked the sh*t out of Cary Grant, and made it look good in one of his DB suits. Ha ha ha ha ha.
post #9 of 29
This is somewhat on topic. Having mostly Scottish/English roots, I had been thinking of having a pair of "trousers" made with a family tartan. I did a little internet search and found a shop in New England that carries them. I think they are MTM from Scotland. I think they could be neat in that Royal Tenenbaum's kind of way. (If I could only get my wife a matching pair). http://www.lindaclifford.com/Trousers.html
post #10 of 29
The pants/trousers controversy can cause a little confusion. I have a colleague (American) who, while in London hailed a taxi that was travelling on the other side of a dividing fence.  He stopped, she climbed over and bundled in, apologizing for the delay in doing so, explaining (as she gestured to her skirt) that she wasn't wearing pants. Well.  
post #11 of 29
Quote:
I guess my point is to say that everything English actually finds its origins in the Germanic traditions of the Angles and Saxons, including the language and the name itself, which would explain pants
40% of the English vocabulary pool has French roots. It dates back to the battle of Hastings (1066). See continued occupation of England by the Normands. Trousers apparently has Gaelic roots. Pants was introduced into English through French Pantalon, which was itself introduced to French throuh Italian Pantal(e)one (a character of the Comedia del Arte, who wore such a garment). Italian get the character's name from the Greek.
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Quote:
(linux_pro @ Feb. 22 2005,08:42) I guess my point is to say that everything English actually finds its origins in the Germanic traditions of the Angles and Saxons, including the language and the name itself, which would explain pants
40% of the English vocabulary pool has French roots. It dates back to the battle of Hastings (1066). See continued occupation of England by the Normands. Trousers apparently has Gaelic roots. Pants was introduced into English through French Pantalon, which was itself introduced to French throuh Italian Pantal(e)one (a character of the Comedia del Arte, who wore such a garment). Italian get the character's name from the Greek.
Yes, there are also Viking words, Latin words, etc. I was being overly generic to save space. Thank you for the very interesting post. I'm doing more research right now on google. Heh heh. I should be working.
post #13 of 29
Quote:
40% of the English vocabulary pool has French roots.  It dates back to the battle of Hastings (1066).  See continued occupation of England by the Normands.
Let's not forget the Romans, who crossed the Channel first.
post #14 of 29
Thread Starter 
You would have a very long list if you were to track all the settlers and invaders from 200BC - 1200AD. My main point is that the Celtics are true "English" blood, and primarily only Celtic traditions/customs could be considered truly and uniquely "British" or "English." (outside of the Bretons and Picts, who it is argued were actually Celtic). The Celtic men did not wear (or at least it probably would have been highly unusual if they ever did) pants, but rather, wore wrapped cloaks with embroidered or plaid designs. So, the wearing of pants did not originate in the British Isles, nor was it a "British" custom.
post #15 of 29
Quote:
You would have a very long list if you were to track all the settlers and invaders from 200BC - 1200AD.
Not so long, I don't think, at least not if we exclude "settlers." A cross-Channel invasion has been pulled off only twice in history. And the Romans built a lasting civilization in Britain -- imposed at swordpoint, to be sure, but it had an impact that lasted long after the Romans were gone. Thus the English language is a very curious mix of "North" (Celtic and Saxon) and "South" (Latin and French). Even more curious is that it appears to have developed in "layers": first the ancient Celtic, then Latin, then Saxon (which is a later version of the earlier Celtic) then French, which is derived from Latin.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Why are they called trousers?