When Did Women Start Wearing Pants?

When Did Women Start Wearing Pants?

When did women start wearing pants? Read on to learn more about the history on when and how women fought to ditch the skirt and wear a pair instead.
Camille sitting in a pink chair wearing pink and white clothing


Today, women and men alike have so many different clothing choices. From skirts and dresses to jumpers and bodysuits, there’s no limit when it comes to picking out an outfit that matches your style and personality.

But it wasn’t always like this.

At one point in time, women didn’t wear pants. They were expected to wear skirts and dresses with shirts and blouses, especially when they ventured outside of their homes.

It’s hard to think of a time when you were restricted from expressing yourself and finding comfort in clothing. Today, it’s easy to dress as you please in hopes of feeling good and looking good in the clothes you love to wear.

But who was the first woman to wear pants in the world, and when did other women follow suit? Let’s take a deep dive into the history of women's pants and how they came to be a staple in everyone’s wardrobe, regardless of gender:

The History of Women’s Pants

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the first pair of pants was designed by a woman named Elizabeth Smith Miller in the 1850s, but they were not created to be worn as a single item of clothing. This design concept was more than just pants - the getup was labeled a “rational dress” for women which consisted of a skirt, loose trousers, and a short jacket. Some women were excited to wear this outfit for comfort - it made it easier to move around and work freely without worrying about their skirt unveiling more than they bargained for.

Miller wasn’t only the first woman to design pants - she was also the first woman to wear pants. She shared her baggy pants design with her cousin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who then went on to share them with her neighbor, Amelia Jenks Bloomer.

The pants worn with the rational dress went on to be named bloomers, after Bloomer herself, who is not only the first woman to wear trousers, but is now known as one of the earliest advocates of the pants for women. Unfortunately, years of controversy kept women from feeling comfortable enough to express themselves in this piece of clothing, so the trend faded away. If women were seen wearing bloomers, they were likely exercising, doing chores, or showing them off in the comfort of their own homes - far away from public places.

“When the bloomers happened, of course women who were interested in living a comfortable and active life were very thrilled about [them],” Lisa Santandrea, an adjunct professor of fashion history at Parsons The New School, told The Huffington Post. “But there was such a heavy backlash against them.”

The emergence of pants on women came back into play during World War I - women who took over men's jobs when they went off to war sometimes wore pants because they were easier to move around in and get the job done.

Wearing pants for a purpose came back into play again during the women’s rights movement in the 60s and 70s - many women used pants as an opportunity to express their devotion to fighting equal rights and opportunities as their male counterparts in the U.S.

“For the first time, in the 1960s you have rebellious youth wearing clothing that is influencing fashion,” Santandrea told the Huffington Post. “You have a new generation of British designers such as Mary Quant, who is presenting both mini skirts and pants on the runway, and that rebellious new spirit influences high fashion.”

By this time, women started wearing pants as a fashion statement, in both sports and leisure and began wearing them around the house and out in public without shame or disbelief.

And the rest is history!

How Woman Broke The Stigma and Thrive Today

Today, women have the honor and privilege of wearing what they want, whenever they want. It’s amazing to see how the early history of women's pants has transformed the way women present themselves, whether it’s in the office, out and about for a lunch date, at an exercise class, or lounging around at home with the kids.

Freedom of expression is an important part of life no matter your age or gender. Clothing gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality and feel comfortable in your own skin. By having the chance to wear pants on a regular basis, you can stop dressing for other people and start dressing for yourself. Pants are a powerful tool for self-expression and equality and can make a huge difference in your mood and demeanor.

Whether you’re dressing for a fancy event or you’re getting ready for work and you’re not sure what to wear, we say pick the pants! There are so many different ways to style a pair of pants and look like a classy and sophisticated woman.


Val sitting at a table wearing pink and white clothing

Shop The Pants Collection at Anthony’s Florida

Women wearing pants in history has shaped the way you get to express yourself and put on a pair today. If you’re in the mood to change your wardrobe or you’re looking for a few statement pieces to add to your closet, shop for pants at Anthony’s Florida online.

At Anthony’s, we have a variety of pants and crop pants in a variety of lengths, styles, and colors so you can find exactly what you need for any event. Whether you’re looking for something to lounge in while spending time with family on the beach or you need a pair of slacks to go with that chic blouse for girl’s night, we’ve got you covered.

Browse our collection of pants to find the perfect pair for you.

1 comment


I like wearing the pants ! Figuratively and literally! I feel comfortable and confident in a great pair .

I like wearing the pants ! Figuratively and literally! I feel comfortable and confident in a great pair .

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