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Old 11-30-2000, 02:55 PM
anderm00 anderm00 is offline
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I would like to know why women in all different cultures have traditionally worn dresses. It seems like whatever culture you look at, from the Native Americans to the Japanese to whoever, the women all wore dresses. Isn't it strange that it is so universal? And if they are so great why didn't the men wear them? Is it because women squat to pee? But men squat sometimes, too. I think they would be clumsy to motivate around in and therefore not nearly so common. Any ideas?
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Old 11-30-2000, 03:07 PM
Arjuna34 Arjuna34 is offline
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By "dress", do you mean anything that's not pants? Would you call kilts, kimonos, sarongs, tunics, togas, and robes "dressess"? If so, then dressess have been pretty commom among men across cultures. In fact, you can see men in dresses every Sunday in many churches (he's the guy in the front ), or at the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, as they hear arguments

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Old 11-30-2000, 03:12 PM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arjuna34
By "dress", do you mean anything that's not pants? Would you call kilts, kimonos, sarongs, tunics, togas, and robes "dressess"? If so, then dressess have been pretty commom among men across cultures. In fact, you can see men in dresses every Sunday in many churches (he's the guy in the front ), or at the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow, as they hear arguments

Arjuna34
Yes, but you RARELY see the reverse--women wearing pants.

A better question: Why has it historically been more common for men to wear pants than for women to wear pants?
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Old 11-30-2000, 03:21 PM
cher3 cher3 is offline
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As someone else pointed out, everyone pretty much started out wearing dresses.

However, my guess for the emerging predominance of dresses was the increasing general tendency for cultures to require more "modesty" from women. Pants are more revealing.

The only traditional exceptions I can think of are some Asian cultures, where pants might be more practical in, say, planting rice or other agricutural tasks. There are also some traditional Indian "pants" for women, but they are worn with a long dress-like tunic.

It is more convenient to pee outside in a dress, but you can't go by comfort and convenience in analyzing fashion.
  #5  
Old 11-30-2000, 03:27 PM
peace peace is offline
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It's obvious, girls: for men, it's easier to undress them this way: just pull it up, and voila'!
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  #6  
Old 11-30-2000, 03:27 PM
Podkayne Podkayne is offline
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During the early days of the women's rights movement, Amelia Bloomer invented the outfit that bears her name: poofy pants worn under a short skirt (that's short by Victorian standards, not today's standards). They were probably inspired by the tunic and leggings worn by Iroquios women, which afforded much more freedom of movement than the floor-length skirt required by standards of modesty at the time. Just an historical example of pants-wearin' women.

There might be a bit of a cultural filter occurring here: in our society we expect women to wear dresses and men to wear pants, so when other cultures are represented in art by those who aren't devoted to accuracy (like, unfortunately, the authors of childrens books, for example) the same conventions are preserved.

One possible practical reason for women not to wear pants is, well, it's easier for women to pee in the woods if they're wearing a skirt than if they're wearing pants.
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Old 11-30-2000, 03:33 PM
Akatsukami Akatsukami is offline
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I have heard the hypothesis that people in warmer climates tend to wear open-crotched garments (tunics, robes, etc.), whilst people in cooler climates tend to wear closed-crotched garments (trousers) for comfort's sake.

Since womens' work tends to be indoors (and thus out of the immediate storm blast, if not, given the limitations of prior centuries, in climate-controlled comfort), they are able to wear open-crotched garments (and not freeze) in cooler climates than could men,
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Old 11-30-2000, 03:35 PM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Plenty of exceptions to your rule.

Women in China, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India have been wearing pants for centuries. The source where all of these feminine pants came from is Central Asia. Cultural innovations like pants were spread to many countries through invasions of nomadic peoples from Central Asia. In ancient times, Central Asia was the home of the Scythians.

The Scythians were the originators of several things we take for granted nowadays:
--riding horses
--wearing pants
--smoking marijuana

Well, the last-named Scythian custom is a topic for another thread, but clearly pants-wearing and horse-riding go together. The horsemanship was the reason pants were invented in the first place.

For that matter, in ancient times men did not wear pants either! Look all through the ancient world . . . Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Hebrews, Arabs, Hindus, Malays; none of them wore pants at all. The only ones who did were the Persians, and they were in close contact with Central Asian nomads. The ancient Celts and Germanic tribes wore trews or breeches, but I bet they picked up the custom from Scythians who migrated to Eastern Europe, which is where the Celts and Germanic tribes had migrated from.

Then there are all the tribes of women who wore neither dresses nor pants -- like Australian Aborigines, Africans, and Amazonian Indians. They either wore loincloths or went naked.
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Old 11-30-2000, 04:44 PM
anderm00 anderm00 is offline
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You guys all have some great ideas! For some reason I thought men have always worn pants, but you are right, they haven't.

I also thing the point Cher3 made about modesty made a lot of sense.
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Old 11-30-2000, 04:59 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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modesty

And nowadays it seems its men who have to be modest, though I think we enforce this among ourselves rather than having it forced on us. Just think of any formal occasion (like the Academy Awards ceremony): many of the woman guests appear practically naked in extremely revealing dresses, while the men wear tuxes without exception.
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Old 11-30-2000, 11:57 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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A book I read (sorry I can't think of the title) claimed that the reason women have worn skirts for so long is because of- believe it or not- yeast infections. The book said that women only started wearing pants (or anything under their skirts) when regular bathing became possible.
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Old 12-01-2000, 02:49 AM
Gaspode Gaspode is offline
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Another possible explanation could be the need for battle/riding gear. It's damn hard to ride or fight in long skirts, and damn hard to remain comfortable in short ones. This is the origin of the expression 'to gird one's loins' meaning to put a belt on to tuck the hem of your robe into when going into battle. I imagine this sort of thing would make it a soldier pretty vulnerable to a surprise attack, so they may have adopted trousers as a military uniform. Of course once something becomes military standard it usually doesn't take long to become a badge of pride and fashion accesory for macho males.
Just a theory.
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Old 12-01-2000, 07:34 AM
Ura-Maru Ura-Maru is offline
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Damn, someone beat me to it. Apparently in the days before cotton/silk underwear, thrush was a real problem for women who wore heavy trouser-style garments regularly. No site, tho. Sorry.

Not that I'm obsessed with womens underwear or anything.

The mobility angle that Gastrpode mentioned is proably a big part of it too. A long skirt is offeres less freedom than well fitted trousers, but more than badly fitted ones. So unless you're rich enough to get actual tailoring, you'll probably stick with robe type garments, using short ones or tying them back when you need to move.

ishmintingas, do you know if those pajama-like outfits that men and women wear in period chinese movies are accurate? Everyone seems to wear them, but they look too expensive for poor types.

javaman, I'm not sure that's accurate, except for entertainment biz types. In the summer, men can walk around in desturbingly tiny shorts without problems, but women who walk around in their underwear usually run into leagal problems.

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Old 12-01-2000, 09:58 AM
Johanna Johanna is offline
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Podkayne, I have read that Amelia's bloomers were inspired by the Turkish shalvar (the Hollywood version of which is known as "harem pants").

Ura, Chinese women have been wearing pajamas for centuries -- albeit the genuine peasant article must not have been as spiffy-looking as they show in the movies.

The word pajamas comes from the Persian language: py 'leg' + jmah 'clothes'.

Gaspode, the ancient Egyptian warriors wore short kilts. The ancient Greeks and Romans wore what amounts to armored miniskirts. The only pants-wearing ancient warriors were the Central Asians and Persians (and Germanic tribes too, but they probably picked up the custom from Scythians in Eastern Europe). The Celts went to war naked.

Lumpy, the prevention of yeast infections by allowing the vagina to breathe is worthy of serious consideration. I posted in the "commando" thread that if I were a woman I'd always wear long skirts and be naked underneath, the best way to prevent vaginal infection.

The ancient Hindus wore neither dresses nor pants. As the ancient Greeks and Romans believed that only barbarians wore pants, the Hindus believed that stitched cloth was impure. So they only wore draped garments of unstitched cloth: the dhoti and sari. The use in India of pyjmah, shalvar pants with tunics, and blouses under the sari, is a relatively recent innovation brought in by invaders from Central Asia, beginning with the Kushan. The most orthodox purist Hindus tended to reject sewn clothing until recently.
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Old 12-01-2000, 10:03 PM
Gaspode Gaspode is offline
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Quote:
Gaspode, the ancient Egyptian warriors wore short kilts. The ancient Greeks and Romans wore what amounts to armored miniskirts. The only pants-wearing ancient warriors were the Central Asians and Persians (and Germanic tribes too, but they probably picked up the custom from Scythians in Eastern Europe). The Celts went to war naked.
Yeah I know. Then there were the norse, the Scots, the southern Africans etc. I was simply hypothesising that it probably wasn't all that comfortable to be forced to wear short skirts, particularly in cold climates or thistles, and that the only real alternative would be to wear some form of leggings. Leather or silk leggings would also have the added bonus of armour value.

Quote:
A long skirt is offeres less freedom than well fitted trousers, but more than badly fitted ones. So unless you're rich enough to get actual tailoring, you'll probably stick with robe type garments, using short ones or tying them back when you need to move.
Ive tried fighting in kilts, long johns, ge pants, jeans and a sarong type thingy, and I have to say that the tailored jeans are absolutely the worst, with the sarong coming shortly after. The kilt is good but the badly tailored ge pants are by far the best for mobility followed by the long johns, which are proabaly fairly similar to the medieval knitted hose.
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