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    TIME to TALK TROUSERS - part 2

    A staple in nearly every woman’s wardrobe, the trouser is a garment with a wide variety of styles, cuts, and types. In our previous article, we covered the different trouser lengths available over the years; in this three-parter, we will discuss trouser types with reference to the history of each, hopefully providing you with some vintage styling inspiration along the way! 

    Moving alphabetically through the various unique styles of trouser, part two of this three-part series focuses on: the resurgence of preppy chino trousers; the incredibly chic and Parisian-esque cigarette trousers; dungarees, once the symbol of cowboy America; and loose, floaty harem trousers.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 2'. Source of the image:


    Alongside cargo trousers, chinos were another type of trouser that that originated within the military world. The chino trouser takes its name from the twill cloth it is made of, which was originally 100% cotton but is nowadays more likely to be a cotton-synthetic fabric. Chino cloth has a notable weave with small diagonal ridges that are flat-fronted, with slanting side pockets and one or two back pockets. Initially produced in a khaki colour when first introduced in the 19th Century, chinos were perfect camouflage-wear for the British military. The success of the khaki colour trousers was so large that, in the late 19th century, khaki became the official battledress colour and other military forces adopted it. Although the origin of the name ‘chino’ is uncertain, it is known that it derives from the word ‘China’.

    This is most likely because the trousers were made in China or, alternatively, because they were made by Chinese tailors in a Spanish colony.

    By the end of World War II, the surplus of military clothing made chinos available for mass consumption and became the new signature attire for the younger generations, along with jeans. More than 100 years later, chino trousers maintain the same simple appeal, whilst remaining a stylish wardrobe essential for both men and women. These days, however, there’s a diverse range of colours for chinos, ranging from neutrals to pastels to bold colours.


    The cigarette trouser is a slim-fit, straight legged trouser that ends at the ankles or just above. A versatile garment that can be styled up or down according to the occasion, cigarette trousers can be considered both formal and casual wear. During the 1950s and 1960s, the cigarette trouser developed into an icon of femininity when they became a staple garment in women’s wardrobe, signalling their rejection of the limited dress options available to women imposed upon them. In a period of apparent liberty and equality between the sexes, the most popular trouser styles between the 1950s and 1960s were the cigarette trousers and the capris.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 2'. Source of the image:

    Capri trousers are shorter in leg length and sit between the bottom of the calf and above the ankle, a casual style reserved for brighter, bolder colours; cigarette trousers, in contrast, were traditionally black due to being considered more ‘serious’, elegant attire. These days, both styles are available in a wide variety of colours to meet every style, fit, and taste, not to mention the wide selection between designer and street wear – we are spoilt for choice!

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 2'. Source of the image:


    Dungarees, or overalls, are cover garments with trousers attached to an elongated part that covers the chest, with straps to go around the shoulders. The origin of dungarees is uncertain; however, they are mentioned in literature during the late 18th century as a common garment for slaves. In the 19th century, they became popularised as utility dress, worn for heavy work in the US navy. Indeed, members of the navy were actually prohibited from appearing above deck, as they were not considered part of the navy uniform. After World War II, dungarees were firmly established as the working dress of American sailors. The first evidence of civilian use of dungarees is the mass-produced pairs made by Levi’s in the 1890s, with the slogan ‘Never Rip, Never Tear’, referring to the durability and resistance of the garment.

    Levi’s dungarees were made of denim (the name dungaree itself comes from a type of denim originally made in Dungri, a city in India) and this is still the main fabric used for dungarees until today, even though a wide variety of fabrics and colours are available. Dungarees were not originally made for women, instead designed as a male garment that became synonymous with cowboys and the migration of workers to California in the 1930s. Even though dungarees were created for the male market, they were considered unisex by the end of World War I, when women had to dress in male attire as they started to replace men in the fields and factories. But women did not stop wearing dungarees after the war, with them becoming everyday attire during the 1960s.


    An evolution of the culotte trousers, harem trousers are baggy, full-length trousers that are cuffed at the ankle. Harem trousers are inspired by the Middle East – the Turkish trouser in particular – and they were was brought to the West by Paul Poiret during the 1910s. His 1911 collection was strongly orientalist and, along with kimono-like jackets and scarves around the head, presented what was at the time called jupe-culottes or jupe-pantalon: a pleated trouser that met the adversity of western society of the time. In a time when women’s figures were constrained by corsets daily, Poiret’s model to reinvent female liberty by means of fashion was deemed too controversial, but nonetheless paved the way for innovation and emancipation in women’s wardrobes. The creation of harem trousers is considered the moment in which fashion began to challenge traditional cultural styles.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 2'. Source of the image:

    During the 1980s, harem trousers became more fashionable, a trend that started with MC Hammer, evolving into ‘hammer trousers’ and parachute trousers under the influence of rap.

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