Pants – by Katie Bragg at the University of Montana – Back to pants, because pants are interesting. To the Greeks and Romans, pants were just about the weirdest fucking thing they’d ever seen. Literally all of their clothes consisted of drapey rectangles. If they were feeling fancy, they’d stick a belt or a nice brooch on it. Pants are a complicated, relatively form-fitting garment and it just freaked those poor Greeks right out. Pants were a visual signal for “really fucking foreign”. The furry-hat-and-pants depiction I mentioned above was also the exact same costume that male Scythian warriors were depicted in, and the androgyny also freaked out the poor androcentric Greeks. Often, in vase art and such, the only way to tell an Amazon from a male Scythian is that the women have white skin. They lack of visible gender differences screamed “foreign” to the Greeks. There are several mythic stories about the origins of pants, and they all attribute their invention to women. One story even has Medea (of “fuck you Jason, I’m going to murder our kids to get back at you you utter fuckpile” fame) inventing pants.
Historically speaking, pants were invented because people found themselves needing to ride horses to get places, and not-pants are really inconvenient for that. Since both men and women rode horses, both men and women wore pants. (There’s also a fair bit of merit to the theory that the Amazon legend comes from actual Scythian female horse-archers, since once you put a person on a horse and give them a recurve bow, upper body strength advantages don’t mean shit). Pants were actually a key bit of military technology. Ancient China was having a hell of a time fighting off all these pants-wearing horse nomads (this was like 300-200 AD-ish) until the state of Qin finally decided to collectively put on pants and get on horses. They then preceded to kick the nomad’s pants-wearing asses and unify the warring states of China. Because pants.
Of course, because of bullshit, pants came to symbolize femininity and barbarianism to the Greeks and Romans. They think you look very silly in your uncivilized female legsleeves. Funny sidenote, the Romans avoided pants whenever they could, but when they kept invading more northerly places, shit kept getting colder. Winters in Northern Gaul (modern day France) were cold enough that soldiers actually had to put on pants, and the Romans thought this was significant enough that they called the region “Gallia Bracata”, which translates to “Trousered Gaul”, or, if you’re slightly more imaginative, “Pants France”.