Chances are good you’re wearing pants right now, yes? Unless you’ve just returned from a swanky restaurant or are reading in bed, there’s a pretty good chance you’re in pants. Or if not, at least shorts.
But probably not a skirt.
Especially if you’re a dude.
Turns out, we didn’t always wear pants. The Japanese used to wear Kimono’s full time, and the Scottish really dig a good kilt. And have you ever seen an American Indian from the 1700′s walking around in a pair of Levi’s? Doubt it.
The Atlantic has an interesting explanation for how pants came to be: the horse. Here’s what they had to say:
“Historically there is a very strong correlation between horse-riding and pants,” Turchin wrote in a blog post this week. “In Japan, for example, the traditional dress is kimono, but the warrior class (samurai) wore baggy pants (sometimes characterized as a divided skirt), hakama. Before the introduction of horses by Europeans (actually, re-introduction – horses were native to North America, but were hunted to extinction when humans first arrived there), civilized Amerindians wore kilts.”
The reasons why pants are advantageous when mounted atop a horse should be obvious, nonetheless, many cultures struggled to adapt, even when their very existences were threatened by superior, trouser-clad horseback riders.
Turchin details how the Romans eventually adopted braccae (known to you now as breeches) and documents the troubles a 3rd-century BC Chinese statesman, King Wuling, had getting his warriors to switch to pants from the traditional robes. “It is not that I have any doubt concerning the dress of the Hu,” Wuling told an advisor. “I am afraid that everybody will laugh at me.” Eventually, a different state, the Qin, conquered and unified China. They just so happened to be closest to the mounted barbarians and thus were early to the whole cavalry-and-pants thing.
After horses, we made the bicycle, which is either awkward or inappropriate to ride while wearing a skirt. However, most people don’t ride bikes that often, and horse-riding has certainly peaked. But I don’t see many guys reverting to their ancestral skirt-wearing roots.
As recently as the 1960′s there was a significant group of people who didn’t appreciate women wearing pants (particularly jeans) in public. Regardless, I’m glad to live in a pants-filled world.