Pants and trousers may not seem like they have much of a difference to people nowadays, as most consider them to be synonyms. However, they were not always thought of as similar items of clothing for men. Although both garments are worn below the waist to cover the lower part of the body, this is where the similarities between pants and trousers end. In this article, we will discuss the differences between pants and trousers.
- In the UK, “pants” typically refer to underpants, while “trousers” are more relaxed garments worn over pants in public.
- Americans often use the word “shorts” and tend to call trousers “pants,” while using “pants” to refer to underwear or shorts.
- Due to these differences, Americans may face ridicule from Britons when discussing these garments.
Cycling shorts, for example, are closer to pants than what most people might think. American shorts or underwear are more similar to pants as they are known in England. Pants are for men what panties are for women; however, while panties are shorter and tighter and cling to the body of the woman wearing them, pants are neither that tight nor that short. In Victorian England, pants referred to a piece of clothing meant to cover the hip area down from the waist and often reached down to the groin. Pants were meant to be worn in private, while in public, men used to cover pants with another piece of clothing called trousers. Trousers are longer and more relaxed, covering a greater portion of a man’s body from the hip to just above the feet. Interestingly, this apparel was termed “trouser pants” by Americans.
Americans are not as rigid when it comes to the definitions of trousers and pants. The basic difference between American shorts and British pants is that pants are a bit longer than shorts, which look more like underwear. Americans prefer to call trousers “pants” and use “pants” to refer to underwear or shorts. In Britain, underwear or underpants are referred to as “pants,” and pants are called “trousers.” This dichotomy often causes confusion and amusement between Americans and Britons.
As for Indians, nearly 200 years of British rule meant that they adapted to the British mode of apparel. However, Pantaloons, as they were called by the British, became “patloon” for Indians, and it has been so ever since, at least in rural parts of the country. In cities, patloon means an apparel that is almost the same as a trouser, though people try to differentiate, saying pleated ones are pants while non-pleated ones that are mostly made of non-denim cloth are called trousers.