Why is it called a "pair" of pants?

Dear Poker Abby,

These deeply unsettling questions were asked on my blog. We call a unit of pants a pair of pants, so does that imply that each unit of pants is made of two individual sub-units simply called a pant? The same applies to a pair of shorts. Would we then be able to, with some creative tailoring, create a non-matching unit that is composed of one pant and one short? What would we call this garment? You are clearly an authority on this topic.
Often when phrases don't make sense, it's because they've changed from their origins. For instance, the rough winds of Southern California were originally referred to as "Santana" winds ("devil winds" in Spanish). But the term was so frequently butchered by the über-white newscasters of the '70's that they're now called "Santa Ana" winds. While Santa Ana is probably very similar to hell, it has nothing to do with the winds.

A similar evolution took place with the phrase "pair of pants." See, back in the days when dudes wore togas, robes and the like without being referred to as "alternative lifestyle," a designer named Levinopolous created the first pants. People laughed at the idea- why should they give up their comfy sheets for something so constricting? But Levinopolous had the answer. He informed men that the new style would create a flattering pear shape in the crotch that would attract suitors. Naturally, our horny ancestors ditched the sheets immediately. People did take notice and a new phrase was coined: "Check out the pear of his pants."

The term held up for centuries until ladies adopted the apparel, which introduced the world to the concept of camel toe. It was in one of the first published Fashion Police columns that a jokester wrote about a starlet's tight trousers, "Check out the pair of her pants." The new term caught on and eventually became gender neutral with just "pair of pants."

As you correctly stated, the current use of of the term implies that a pair constitutes two units which are of equal proportions. The mismatched shorts/pants combination would no longer be a pair and would therefore be called a Kidman-Cruise.

(On a side note, the question, "Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" originally asked if it was a pear. Then it was realized that, while the appearance of a pear shaped crotch was appealing to women, the thought of anything pear shaped up the old how ya doing was not).

~~Poker Abby~~



4 Comments:

Blogger Val Badger said...

Fascinating! How easily could one be wearing a cucumber of pants (or an acorn of pants, in my husband's case) ;-)

 
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Interesting article, unit sounds like a box full of pants.

 
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