A new month, a new category. This month I am going to delve into the world of pants, since that is pretty much all I am wearing on these cold winter days. To get things underway, A is for Ankle Length…
AKA: cigarette pants, pencil pants
How to say it: as it looks
- pants reaching to the ankle bone
- generally tight fitting, but not always
- sometimes have a zip at the cuff
…of the style: Women began wearing pants as early as the 1851 when Amelia Bloomer introduced her loose-fitting ankle length trousers under a shorter dress. Her look didn’t take off straight away, but when Paul Poiret introduced his harem pants in 1911 (more on those later this month) pants finally became part of the women’s fashion repertoire and grew more popular through the 1930s as movie stars like Marlene Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn began to wear them on and off the silver screen.
However, even with the stars wearing pants there were rules – from when and where it was appropriate to wear them, to how much a woman should (or shouldn’t ) weigh before she donned a pair of trousers.
The ankle length pant is said to have emerged during this time. Women’s fashion turned towards more comfortable daytime wear and the ease of fabrics like rayon and cotton. The Depression also aided the rise of the women’s pant, as women could no longer afford glamorous daytime dresses and or as many servants, so women turned to pants to do their chores in comfort. The ankle length pant was a great option for them as it provided a feminine silhouette whilst still conservative enough for the era.
With the men away in WWII women took to the work force and began to wear trousers more often as part of their working uniform. After the war ended, despite the release of Dior’s ‘New Look’ (which was very popular in itself), women had had a proper taste of the comfort and convenience of pants and weren’t ready to give them up.
It wasn’t until the 1960s, with its sexual revolution and the rise of feminism, that women truly became able to wear pants more or less as they wanted, although some stigmas remained around women in pants right through to the 21st century.
…of the name: They are called ankle length pants because they stop at the ankle bone.
- Women were banned from wearing pants in the US senate until 1993 when Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Carol Moseley-Braun wore pantsuits on the Senate floor and forced them to lift their ban.
- In 2013, a bylaw requiring women in Paris to ask permission from city authorities before “dressing as men”, which included wearing trousers (with exceptions for those “holding a bicycle handlebar or the reins of a horse”) was declared officially revoked by France’s Women’s Rights Minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.
- Hilary Clinton was the first woman to wear trousers in an Official First Lady Portrait
21st Century Ankle Length Pants
Ankle length is a flattering pant option and they come in so many fun colours and prints that they never get old.
Alice + Olivia, Diane von Furstenberg
Marc by Marc Jacobs, Moschino