Let’s make a few guesses: you’re reading this on a mobile device, you’re smart, and probably wearing pants. Good guessing, huh? We’re The Factionary, y’all. We’re definitely right on all counts, but the latter might be a bit quirky to call. The fact is, pants are bar none the most comfortable piece of fashion in the modern world, but the evolution behind why we wear pants is quite bizarre. So where on Earth did such an idea come from, who invented ‘em in the first place — and even why?
Related media: The Intriguing History Of Why We Wear Pants
Once Upon A Fashion
In the 4th century C.E. of Rome, there was a scandal among the wealthy elite of news of a new clothing trend that was suddenly emerging on the streets of Rome. This fashion trend was pants. This trend was considered to be the clothing choice of the stereotypical barbarians — any nomadic clan that had no feudal city state.
As at the time, many Goths and Huns had been assimilated into the Roman empire by Constantine, but they were bold enough to roam around the streets of Rome wearing pants. This made most native-born Romans a little bit nervous: as they say, “if you’re in Rome, you must do as the Romans do.” And as at 399 C.E., Rome enforced laws banning pants and boots altogether from the city — under the threat of “punishment according to legal status.”
The xenophobic Romans have an impressive track record of their political influence on the world by then, however, their Hunnish neighbors really did have a sassy taste for fashion, and the Romans were far behind in terms of that. And as a matter of fact, even the first pants that were worn in that part of the world emerged from that Eastern Hunnish territory — and likely originated even further east.
Whence Cometh Pants?
In 2014, archaeologist discovered two medieval men buried sometime between 3,000 and 3,300 years ago in western China wearing (you guessed it) the oldest known pants in existence. The 5,300 year-old Ötzi mummy wore a set of goat-hide leggings with a loincloth; these pants were made of wool and were sewn into one unit. They would have been drawn ever close and tight with string, and they even had some weird designs woven on them. That’s quite some fashion, but they weren’t meant for that. They had a different purpose altogether.
Technically speaking, it seems pants are much warmer on the skin than other clothing worn on the lower limbs, so its quite a surprise that someone like Ötzi would be wearing leggings in his tomb. Both archaeologists and paleontologists suspect another reason why pants became a revolutionary fashion in the world. Their answer: the cavalry.
So Why Do We Wear Pants?
Most historians have seen a connection between the spread of pants with the spread of horses. These pair were never known to any civilization: from ancient Egypt to China to Rome to Mesoamerica, and to the stereotypical cowboy of the North American plains, until horses finally made a debut to these cultures. So these two ancient Chinese men are evidence of such claim. The archaeologist also found item like wooden horses, leather bits, and other saddle accouterments together with the mummies.
Now, why do we wear pants? Well, we’re sure you know where this is going. But were these the first pants ever? Probably not. They are evidence of how mankind innovates as to improve and meet the satisfaction of their needs. Pants are really an innovation that evolve not as a fashion trend, but certainly a haute couture for riding comfortable on your saddle.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Mon, Jul 15, 2019.