MC Hammer may have made them famous in the late 1980’s, but harem pants were around long before then. Commonly called parachute pants due to their baggy, lightweight appearance, these pants came out of France in the 19th century.
Baggy through the hips and thighs and tapered at the ankle, they were originally designed to be worn in the desert or other hot environments. The lightweight, breathable fabric was ideal to allow for air circulation and prevented chapped and chafed skin.
American History- This particular type of pants played a small role in women’s suffrage. Tired of the restricting corsets and stiff, unforgiving petticoats, women adopted the pants as a kind of protest against the status quo.
Then called bloomers, the pants evolved and made their mark in the annals of time. Less fashion and more convenience at that point, bloomers were worn under skirts in place of petticoats, making women more comfortable.
In the 1920’s- A French designer attempted to bring these pants back into vogue, but ultimately failed, and they fell largely out of fashion until the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, when the hippie counterculture led to a reawakening of the style.
Based on the idea of free love, the pants served to define the idea of a societal branch. By the late 1980’s, the pants had evolved again, into the wildly colored rapper pants commonly associated with MC Hammer.
Teenage girls went crazy with the trend. Mothers and grandmothers sewed these easy-to-make pants by the dozens. They flew off store shelves and were traded at sleepovers.
It seemed the wilder the pattern, the better. Acceptable for men or women, the pants had finally found popularity, albeit short lived. By the mid 1990’s, the baggy pants were once more a point of ridicule.
Today’s Style- Today harem pants show yet another evolution of the original. Commonly worn by belly dancers with a short skirt or sash over the top, the pants may be destined to make yet another comeback.
Today’s progression has the pants as something of a cross between leggings and a skirt. Still loose through the hip and thigh, they are now tight fitting from the knee down.
The history and evolution of harem pants is long and storied. From the clothing France used to outfit their army to the modern incarnation of a sexy style for women, these pants have been around for many years, and will most likely be around for many more to come.
Want a great deal on Harem Pants? check out the great eBay auctions below!