The adoption of pants as a popular item for women in Western society traces its roots to the mid-19th-century dress-reform movement. Although there were women of this time who were already wearing pants like clothing if they were engaged in physical exercise or household work, the garments were typically worn out of the public eye. Most women usually wore long skirts that felt heavy, looked bulky, and limited their range of motion. Some women wanted the option to wear pants in public. Some wanted it for purely practical reasons, such as for comfort and ease of movement. For others, the freedom to wear pants was tied to the women’s rights movement, a radical and controversial crusade at the time.
During World War II, pants were more widely worn by civilian and military women, both at work and socially. Although women continued to enjoy wearing pants after the war, style trends for women remained fixated largely on skirts or dresses until the 1960s and ’70s. Then, pants became firmly established as popular and appropriate clothing options for women at home, in public, and in many workplaces.