• HOME

    TIME to TALK TROUSERS - part 3

    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 three of this three-part series focuses on: jeans, ever popular, and always in fashion; the radical jumpsuit; loose and comfy palazzo trousers; suit trousers; and stirrup trousers.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 3'. Source of the image:


    Who has never had a pair of jeans in their wardrobe? In this day and age, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could answer ‘yes’ to this question. Jeans have been a classic garment for women and men, boys and girls, for over a century. But who invented the style and where does the name come from? Back in the 16th century during the fabric trade, it was common to name a fabric after its city of provenance. The French name for the Italian city of Genoa, where the denim fabric was produced and exported, is ‘Gênes’ and in Old French the name was ‘Jean’ or ‘Jannes’; the word has been changed and adapted to a more English sound over time, becoming what we now know as jeans.

    The classic jeans style is called 5 pockets due to the two pockets at the back, the two at the front and a mini pocket just above the right-hand front pocket, added to the original design in 1890 for the purpose of storing a watch or some coins. During the 1950s, jeans became popular amongst the younger generations due to the influence of cinema and rock ‘n’ roll. Films such as Rebel without a Cause or The Wild One garnered notable attention for this trouser style by having their respective actors, James Dean and Marlon Brando, rock blue jeans in front of the camera. Nowadays, jeans can be found in a range of different colours, cuts, and styles, simple or with embellishments, making them one of the most versatile garments to own.

    The first pair of jeans was created by Jacob Davis in 1871 and patented with Levi’s in 1873. The innovative idea behind jeans was the addition of copper rivets at the places trousers tend to rip the most: pockets and flies. This creates a trouser much more durable and resistant.


    Jumpsuits are a one-piece garment that cover both the bottom and top halves of the body. First invented by the Italian artist, Thayaht, in 1920, jumpsuits were designed with the futuristic and revolutionary idea of creating a unisex garment to be worn by anybody, for any occasion. Even though the idea of a one-piece garment could not be solely attributed to Thayaht (as discussed in part 2 of Trouser Styles, in the dungarees section), the Italian tuta was an undeniably revolutionary invention, as the pattern to create the design was made available in the newspaper, La Nazione, marking the first occasion that a pattern was sold instead of the product itself. Additionally, the Thayaht jumpsuit should be considered from a post-war standpoint when the economic crisis and lack of luxury were features of everyday life.
    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 3'. Source of the image:

    Jumpsuits underwent considerable changes during the 1930s, when Elsa Schiaparelli designed an elegant jumpsuit for the sophisticated woman, moving away from the initial ‘one-for-all’ idea and instead targeting the garment specifically at women. The notions of liberty and comfort were seen as innovative, paving the way for modern women. Jumpsuits reached the peak of their success during the 1960s and 1970s, when every designer runway made their own version and every woman added it to her wardrobe. More recent versions of the jumpsuit include the playsuit, a sleeveless variation made with shorts and often worn by younger generations.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 3'. Source of the image:


    Palazzo trouser are extreme wide-legged trousers that flare out from the waist down. The history of the palazzo trouser can be dated back to the 1930s, when women were constricted by the expectation to wear dresses and skirts. A precursor to the palazzo trouser was the beach pyjama, popular during the 1920s and 1930s. Coco Chanel popularised the style further after spending some time in the French Riviera, where women frequently wore wide-legged trousers made of light, silky fabrics over their bathing suits. Due to their loose fit, palazzo trousers are in fact popular attire for the summer months, as lightweight, flowing fabrics are used to create a breathable effect.


    Is there an attire that empowers women more than a trouser suit? Borrowed from men’s wardrobes, the trouser suit has seen a steep escalation in use since the 1960s, when women fought by means of fashion to gather the same rights as their male counterparts. Even though female emancipation is still an ongoing fight, suit trousers are slowly turning into a more common attire for empowered women both in and out of business, filling the distorted gap between the genders. Let us be reminded, though, that females wearing trouser suits can receive negative comments, in the same way that the famous ‘Le Smoking’ by Yves Saint Lauren in 1966 created a strong negative response in his time, with women prevented from wearing trousers on the US senate floor until 1993.

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 3'. Source of the image:

    Nevertheless, when adopted by women in the workplace, suit trousers gave women the chance to wear a garment that was normally worn only by men in power. Through this, they managed to achieve the same level of empowerment without being confined to traditional feminine attire and behaviour; in short, they chose to wear male attire in a male world. Peruse through our Stories section to find out more about the illustrious career of the trouser suit!

    'Olga Anderson'. Article 'Time to Talk...Trousers part 3'. Source of the image:


    Stirrup trousers are full-length and tight fitting, extending with a band or strap to be worn under the arch of the foot to hold the trouser legs in place. Often associated with jodhpurs and horse riding in the early 1900s, they have gone in and out of fashion over the years, having a particularly long run of popularity throughout the 80s and 90s. From black to bright, bold disco colours, stirrup trousers are usually made of stretch fabrics, making them ideal for leisurewear. Their use originated amongst horse riders at the beginning of the 1900s, when women were fighting not only for their right to vote, but also for their right to ride in a fully seated position, as opposed to sitting side-saddle.

    It wasn’t, however, until the 1920s that female equestrians adopted male breeches and abandoned the side-saddle position that they had been expected to ride in for centuries. A signifier of female emancipation and similar in shape to leggings, stirrup trousers are perfect under boots in winter and under short dresses or flowing tops in summer.

    As we have seen, it’s possible to link the history of each trouser style to the history of women and their fight for emancipation and liberty from prejudices and patriarchal structures. This history, one consisting of the breaking down of physical, social, and mental restrictions, represents how far women have come on their journey for equality between the sexes, and indicates the power of fashion in shaping these social justice campaigns.

    Be the first to know
    Let us keep you updated on our new collections, send you personalised notification and exclusive promotions. Receive 20% off your first order

    *Valid for first-time customers on full-price items only. Cannot be applied to Gift Cards or combined with other offers
    Disclaimer: By signing up, you consent to receive emails about 'Olga Anderson' latest collections, offers, and news, as well as information on how to participate in special events, competitions or promotions. You have certain rights under applicable privacy laws, and can withdraw your consent at any time. See our Privacy Policy for more information.

    At ‘Olga Anderson’ we process information relating to your visit using cookies. We do this to help us improve the site and give you the best possible experience. By continuing to browse our site, you are agreeing to these cookies.