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TROUSERS - History and preparation for UNIT 121: pattern Construction

Xmas Holidays,be festive, home chores, homework for January, homework for the holiday period, meanwhile working in a new place...

I always plan to relax and be lazy for the holidays, as well because I usually work more during the festive seasons ( damn hospitality jobs) but I always ended up in my studio trying to make something new (usually with meltdowns involved)

or studying (looking nerdier than what people could think).

So, here I am on my first official real day off, just after Xmas, searching and collecting info about my next Unit, Unit 121.

Unit 121, it's a fashion college unit, about Pattern Construction, in this case, Trousers construction.

(with all this Buffynism all around, I read in my mind Room 314 instead of unit 121, eh eh- I m losing my s***t)

I am really excited, because I never adventure into making any trousers from scratch and rarely made some repair or alteration on it. It's a scary section from a beginner, so I am really happy to deal with it at school, with teachers supports and help, so I am not tempted to leave the project uncompleted!

If we can choose the kind of trousers to do, I have got some ideas, I would like to do any of the iconic leather trousers worn by Buffy in the series ( that s why this blog post has been bombarded by Buffy's gifs! [I am a superfan, I think you got it by now!]) or some super classic trousers with jawdropping pockets and waistline details.

Either of the choices will be overtopped for a beginner, but I always do this with myself, instead of going with the easiest choice, I will throw myself into a suicide mission for the first attempt!

So, what's the task for this holiday?

Preparation task for Unit 121: Pattern Construction


Try to include:

  • The History of trousers, e.g. Denim/Levis, Beau Brummell, flares.
  • Different types of trousers, e.g Thai fishing/fisherman pants, Dungarees.
  • Different features of trousers, e.g. pockets, turn-ups, button flies.
  • Different fits of trousers, e.g. skinny fit, looser fit.

Collect what you find & keep it somewhere easily accessible. It can be pairs of actual trousers, pages from magazines, Pinterest board, etc.


Trousers generally refer to tailored garments with a fitted waistline, pockets, and a zipper.

Until the 20th century, Western culture restricted the wearing of pants as a garment to men. Though actual pants were sometimes seen on women in the late 1800s and in the early part of the 20th century, it was not until the 1970s that the wearing of trousers by women was accepted for business or dress occasions.

The phrase "who wears the pants in the family," refers to the head of that family and equates the wearing of pants with power and masculinity.

Trousers in History

Though pants seem to be a modern form of dress, pants were worn by ancient people and were mentioned in The Bible as well as in Ancient Greek mythology.

Men of medieval Europe wore comfy-fitting pants or leggings with a short tunic. Women wore a kind of legging or loose britches under dresses to keep warm during the winter.

By 1500, men wore voluminous knee trousers with attached tights. Fashionable men wore them in bold colours.

By 1550, the trousers became a greatly exaggerated fashion, stuffed to balloon around the upper leg.

The 1600s saw these pantaloons embellished with buttons and ribbons while working men of the lower classes wore ankle-length pants.

During the French Revolution, trousers came to be seen as an aristocratic narcissism and men adapted the longer, ankle-length styles of the working class.
Women's pants were, at the time, an undergarment worn beneath the skirt and were called pantalettes.

Mid-century saw a looser fit trouser with a button fly front instead of the earlier "falls," a front panel that buttoned around the sides. Men's pants now began to appear in the dark or neutral colours that would rule menswear until the present day.

In the middle of the 1800s, a group of women began to clamor for freedom of movement. The Dress Reform Movement, pioneered by feminists, sought a new style of dress for women at work, or for athletic activities.

In Victorian England, young female mine-workers wore pants under tucked-up skirts. It was convenient, but was deemed inappropriate female attire.

In the early part of the 19th century, men's pants were tight and occasionally fitted with straps that fit under the soles of the feet to create a smooth line.

By the end of the 19th century, women began to appear in public wearing toned down bloomers or knickers for bike riding and other sports.

Jeans, or dungarees, were introduced in the late 19th century, created and marketed for California gold miners. Double stitching added to the durability of the pants that have changed little since the turn of the last century. Embraced by farmers and labourers, jeans ultimately became the iconic garment of the late 20th century and are, today, a staple of every wardrobe.

Ooops! Wrong ones! Here the ones I was referencing to:

During World War I when British women took over factory and farm work, replacing men gone into the military, pants took on a new role for women as a practical garment.

World War II put women back into the workforce and back into pants. Famous posters of female workers encouraged women to wear practical bib overalls and dungarees, or what we now call jeans.

The later 20th century saw an explosion of trouser styles for men and women. Though men's dress pants have changed little since the 1930s, it is not unusual to see men wearing shorts, a type of pants once worn only by children. Jeans evolved from practical work garments to the symbol of fashion.

Various styles of trousers have come and gone in the past 112 years with certain styles disappearing for decades, then coming back.

Trousers became acceptable dress and business wear for women by the late 1970s, with pants suits worn by women in high positions.

Source: https://bellatory.com/fashion-industry/A-History-of-Trousers-and-Pants-in-Western-Culture

History of Denim

The History of Denim began with Levi Strauss, moving to New York in 1851, to join his brother who had a dry goods store.

In 1853 he moved to San Francisco opening another store. One of his customers was Jacob W. Davis, a tailor from Reno, Nevada. Davis made functional items such as tents, horse blankets, and wagon covers.

One day, his customer ordered a pair of sturdy pants that could stand hard work. He made them from denim that he bought from Levi Strauss & Co and made them stronger, by placing copper rivets at the places pants rip the most: pockets and flies. When he wanted to patent them, he wrote to Levi Strauss, and they became partners. They opened a bigger factory, and that is how jeans were born.

Jeans are made of a material called denim. The name “denim” comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called “Serge de Nîmes”, initially made in Nîmes, France, shortened to - “denim”. Weavers of Nîmes tried to reproduce the cotton corduroy that was famously made in the city of Genoa, in Italy, but with no luck. With trial and error, they developed another twill fabric that became known as denim.

Ooops I did it, again!

James Dean popularised blue jeans in the movie Rebel Without a Cause in 1955. He wore a T-shirt, a leather jacket, and jeans, a uniform men began copying immediately.  Rebel Without a Cause was a film where the clothing stood out. While it was originally supposed to be a black and white picture, the studio decided to make the film in colour; Dean’s Lee 101 Riders were dip-dyed to make the blue especially eye-catching.

This explains why young men started wearing blue jeans, but what about  young women? You can credit Marilyn Monroe for that. She wore them in arguably her best movie, The Misfits. Her outfit was essentially the female version of James Dean’s Rebel Without a Cause outfit.



The History of Beau Brummell

There are hundreds of Icons of style during History, not even counting all the many fashion icons we got today. But there is one man who stands alone as the father of men’s style.

The man who introduced the suit and tie. That man is George Bryan Brummell, better known as Beau Brummell, the father of dandyism.

 (The first "Dandy" in my mind! I actually loved his sartorialist outfits tho!)

Brummell broke down the wall that separated average men like him and the aristocrats of England.

 Brummell didn’t just break the rules. He recreated them.

For the first time, a common man was able to infiltrate the kingdom’s space. He developed a close relationship with the future King George IV.

Unwilling to conform to the guidelines of the time, Brummell instead inspired the future King and his followers, through his eccentric behaviour and style.

Since Brummell didn’t have significant wealth, he couldn’t afford the same apparel worn by the Prince or his other acquaintances! So he went against the use of embellished garments and sparkling jewels as part of a gentleman’s attire.

Brummell introduced the suit: well-fitting and hand-tailored bespoke suits. He rejected the use of breeches and stockings and instead introduced full-length formal trousers with both matching and contrasting jackets.

This was the birth of men’s style as we know it today. A focus on tailored menswear that flattered the body and showcased the physique, rather than overshadowing it. (remember the big balloon with ribbons trousers of before!)

As we had said before, Brummell wasn't wealthy and in order to maintain his style and vices, he ended up full of debts and had to leave to France. Not anymore able to sustain himself and contracting syphilis during his best times, he passed away without a penny to his name, in an Asylum where he was being held for insanity caused by syphilis. He was just 61 years old.

In his short life, Brummell managed not only to influence current fashion, but he earned his place in the history books. One might say that it is thanks to him that we no longer favour the use of ornate costumes and instead have far more elegant and simple attire.

Source: http://hespokestyle.com/beau-brummell-fashion/

The History of Flares

Flared jeans, or bell-bottoms, are seen as iconic fashion pieces worn by hippies and rockstars in the 1960s and 1970s, but their origin actually comes from an unlikely source: the navy! This particular style can actually be traced back to the one used by sailors in the US Navy in the 19th century.

The wide pants legs allowed sailors to get in and out of their boots quickly, and the larger than usual amount of cloth, actually made it easier to pull sailors back to the boat if they fell overboard! This style was adopted by other navies, and the US Navy itself actually kept using it until as late as 1998!

But how did this cut of pants, make it all the way from the open ocean to our wardrobes? Although wide pants inspired by sailors’ trousers did receive some recognition in the fashion world during the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that they turned into the style that we know so well.

Young adults in the 1960s, eager to embrace an anti-consumerist lifestyle and tired of the clean styles offered by department stores, started to buy clothes from thrift and army shops. Included in the stock of some of these shops, were the flared pants from the US Navy. (..and here we go..!)

 The flared look was, for that time, incredibly different from the mainstream styles being offered in big stores. For both men and women was a funky and unique style. People began to buy these old pants and embellish them with flowers and funky designs as a form of protest against the US Military. The style eventually became synonymous with the ‘flower child’ movement, and was mostly associated with hippies.


 Ehi! How cool is the lady with the racoon on the leash? C'mon I love it!

During the 1970s, the flared cut began to be popularized by iconic figures such as supermodel Twiggy, rock stars and even mega popular Swedish pop group ABBA.

(I used to hate them, but after a Ludovico cure led by my previous Boss & coworkers, I am hooked up to this trap!.... daaaaancing queeen!!!!)

1980s, 1990s, and 2000s: Out and In

The beginning of the 1980s marked the end of the disco era, and people soon saw fashion styles returning to a more straight cut for pants. Popular culture favored tighter, skinner jeans, and the flamboyant colors and huge flares of the 1960s and 1970s seemed destined to fade away into history… But did they?

The flared cut actually made a return to fashion in the 1990s. Since they weren’t exactly large enough to be called ‘bell-bottoms’ anymore, this style of flared jeans was called bootcut, and you’ll see a lot of artists from this era pairing these pants with—you guessed it—boots.

The bootcut was popular from the late 90s into the early 2000s, until it slowly fell out of style.

Skinny jeans and straight-cut pants took over for the last 15 yrs or so, and for a while flared jeans looked like they were going to simply remain as relics of an embarrassing, now-unfashionable past. I was actually pretty embarrassed of wearing the bootcut during my adolescence before this unit! But working on it, now I fell a bit nostalgic about that time and how they made me feel wearing them!

Sound crazy but LOL, actually we got a glimpse of flares back into 2020! How they said? Fashion it's a circle!

Source: https://www.bnyjns.com/blog/history-flared-jeans


So this long essay about the Historical roots of trousers it's finished!

Because it is way longer than expected (even for my tutor, she just missed to shout NEEEERD at me trough the room at the other lesson!) [I am joking she was proudly saying how many info for the unit I already gather, to everybody LOL].

So I will do the rest of the task in another blog post, about type of trousers. fit and different characteristic! Stay tuned!




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