Trew Love! A History of Pants

Dame Aoife "trew" us a curve this week, and you might think it "inseamly" of her to have inflicted such punnery. But these links will leave you "panting" for more, and singing "hems" of praise to Dame Aoife!

Greetings my Faithful Readers!

Let me ask you a few questions: Do you worry that pants (trousers) aren't right for your (or your man's) personae? Have you worried that your portrayal of a given culture isn't perfect because of an insistence to wear pants as a part of the costume? Are you sure you won't feel like a real man (or look like one) if you don't have your pants properly girded with a belt and securely portraying manliness to all those who behold you?

I'm here to tell you that you can stop worrying. Pants ARE period. For many cultures, and in some form, throughout most time periods. Medieval men were not sentenced to wear "a dress and stockings" for most of our time periods, despite what you may have heard, and despite cheesy Robin Hood movies on cablevision. I should caution: If a gentleman wants to do so, and has the panache to do so, it's perfectly historical to wear a doublet and tights, and it's imperative to wear them if you're portraying certain times and cultures. I'm a big fan of men in tights! I am not a fan of trying to talk said men into wearing those tights when they want to wear pants. Therefore I say--choose a different time or a different place.

Pants/trousers/trews/pluderhosen are historical to our entire time period in SOME culture--and sometimes in addition to stockings--if the proper research is done to match the garment to the time and the culture. And pants are also historical for women during some of our period of study! In fact, there was a time and place when pants were considered un-manly!

Here's your chance to make a stand for the wearer of the Pants in the family! May he (or she) steadfastly defend their right to costume themselves in the pants of historical choice, secure in the knowledge that there is no historical sin being committed. Unless, of course you chose to wear Persian trousers with a bum roll, kimono, and Bonnet with cockade. Now that would be a sin.

Read on to find out what you can wear and who you can be, if pants are a mandatory part of your SCAdian wardrobe.



Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
m/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt
Riverouge, Endless Hills, Aethelmearc

History of Blue Jeans
(Site Excerpt) Most reference books say that denim is an English corruption of the French phrase "serge de Nimes;" a serge/twill fabric from the town of Nimes in France dating back to the 17th century. At the same time, there was also a fabric known in France as "nim." Both fabrics were composed partly of wool and we infer de Nimes = denim. Mis translated when it crossed the English Channel , let alone when reaching the American shores in the NE mill towns.Serge de Nimes was also known in England before the end of the 17th century.

Trousers in History
(Site Excerpt)
a.. In the fourth century, women in the Western world wore pants, which they adapted from the Persians. At that time, pants were considered unmanly.
a.. By the Middle Ages in Europe women were wearing dresses and men were wearing breeches.
a.. After the French Revolution, men took off their high heels, silk stockings, and wigs and began wearing trousers.

Wikipedia: Trousers
(Site Excerpt) The hose were easy to make and fastened to a doublet at the top with ties called "points", but as time went by, the two hose were joined, first in the back then across the front, but still leaving a large opening for sanitary functions. Originally, doublets came almost to the knees, effectively covering the genitalia, but as fashions changed and doublets became shorter, it became necessary (and required by the church) for men to cover their genitals with a codpiece.

Isle of Man--Dress in the Middle Ages
(Site Excerpt) The lower classes and ordinary fighting men wore a short and sometimes sleeveless jacket, with a shorter version of the mantle, and tight 'trews' Gaelic triubhas (a word from which the English 'trousers' is derived) Trews were not unlike the medieval 'trunk hose' of Western Europe...

Stefan's Florilegium:
A Reconstructed 11th Century Danish Costume (Part 1)

by Master Giles de Laval
(Site Excerpt) Full breeches gathered at the knee were a widespread fashion in Scandinavia and Russia, being documented by the Arab traveller ibn Rustah c950: "...full trousers of one hundred ells of fabric a pair, and when they put them on, they roll them up to the knees and fasten them there." Fragments of a pair such trousers were recovered from Hedeby harbour, and date to the 10th century.
Hose and Leggings-file
a collection of messages on the subject
click clothing on the right-hand menu, then Hose and Leggings on the left
(Message Excerpt) The Period fabric for hose which I am aware of is wool flannel cut on the bias. Hose were basically long stockings tied to either the braes or the doublet with points until about 1400 when the rising hemlines of the doublet required joined hose.
(Message Excerpt) Janet Arnold in Patterns of Fashion, 16th century has several examples of garments from the 16th century with pockets. Most of them are hidden in the side seams, but the paned slops worn by Don Garcia, a pair of venitians, and all of the pluderhosen have pockets, done in several different styles.

Regia Anglorum: Male Clothing (of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking period)
(Site Excerpt) Two particular types of trousers are the Viking 'baggy' trousers and 'Norman' knee breeches (O.E. broc). Viking baggy trousers were especially popular with the Rus or Eastern Vikings. These are very full in the upper leg, often using several yards of fabric per leg, gathered into a tight fitting lower leg. A few were full right down to the ankle. Norman knee breeches, despite their name, were not worn exclusively by the Normans, some of the more 'fashion conscious' Saxon men would also have worn them by the second half of the eleventh century. They were actually a long pair of very baggy shorts reaching the knee or just below, and worn over a pair of hose and a short tunic.

A Brief History of Hosiery
(Site Excerpt) Although our modern interpretation of this pant-like garment is a separate pair of "puff pants", "breeches", or "pumpkin pants", in Renaissance times they were considered as part of the hose. Very short puffs were refered to as trunk hose, popular in the early 1500s. Puffs that extended to the knee were called canions, and those that extend beyond the knee called venetians, both of which were popular from the mid 1500s to the 1700s.

Midgard Basic Clothing Standards: Braes and Trousers
(Site Excerpt) Scandanavians and possibly some Saxons wore trousers, which can be made from the braies patterns. Simply lengthen the legs and make them fit your legs (snug, but not tight). The waist can have a drawstring or belt loops, and feet can be added from the hosen pattern. If you only have trousers, they can be made to look more like hosen by adding crossgarters or winingas (leg wraps)--see the Hosen page for details.