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FutureMemory's avatar

Can anyone provide insight as to why the expected/appropriate style of dress for women has become one that is, errr....crotchless?

Asked by FutureMemory (24476points) August 29th, 2010

It seems strange to me that a garment that leaves the lower half of your body more exposed (obviously I’m talking about dresses and skirts) to a myriad of real and potential problems has been and (generally speaking) remains the cultural norm for women.

How did this style develop in the first place? Functionally speaking, is there any particular advantage to wearing a dress or skirt rather than a pair of pants? This open-crotch style leaves you more exposed to the elements, does it not? Ladies, how many times have your legs gotten wet during inclement weather? And what about those days that are unexpectedly windy, resulting in many a bare ass being exposed? I just don’t get it. How many women can say they’ve never had their skirt lifted up against their will, at least once? The only advantage I can think of is their ability to keep one cooler on hot days than a pair of trousers can. Could it be a patriarchal thing, perhaps? That the design came about because exposed legs are alluring to men, by virtue of their intrinsic attraction as well as the knowledge of what is under that (very conveniently) easily removable garment?

These are the things that boggle my mind at 3am.

Discuss.

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12 Answers

zophu's avatar

I say it’s men who are being repressed in this case. Why do we always have to wear pants or shorts? Huh!? We have more practical reason to wear loose clothes too. It’s not fair women get a choice and we don’t. I’m going to buy a kaftan or something.

ucme's avatar

I wore a kilt once & well, let’s just say the biting wind flew up the khyber pass that day!!! Nuff said.

janbb's avatar

The forms of womanly legs showing openly would leave men uncontrollable with lust so for the human race to progress women had to hide their beauty. (Said only half tongue in cheek.)

marinelife's avatar

@janbb is right as usual. Dresses evolved to their current form from much longer and puffier garments that were meant to disguise the shape of women’s legs and hips. They were layed with tons of undergarments as well.

Trousers on women were considered scandalous.

Frenchfry's avatar

I would think it was a man to.. He wanted easier access.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a feeling trousers came after the dress or frock. I don’t know any of this for sure. A dress is a simpler garment, one piece, monks and priests use them, I think back a long time ago men wore more robes as part of their typical costume. Also, if memory serves royalty wore elaborate robes in many cultures (you should check me on this) and the Greeks wore togas. Pants were more practical for working hands, people in the fields and people doing hard labor, and so eventually I think this type of clothing developed over time for men. Women who were dressed to be dainty and not do physical labor stayed in their dresses, and dress designers over time took this to an extreme with hoop skirts that made it impossible to do anything, corsets that were extremely constricting, heeled shoes so we could not run away. Eventually in modern times as women entered the workforce again we began wearing trousers more often.

The short skirts you are talking about are just for fashion not for practicality.

Randy's avatar

Yeah, I’m with @JLeslie on this one. “Dresses” were the normal attire first. In ancient Rome, even the soldiers wore skirts. Even in the 16th century, dresses were appropriate. Pants were on the verge of getting out there around that time just not for women.

Women wearing pants was considered odd and not in fashion for a long time. It was just an odd sight because pants were men’s clothing. It’d be like if you saw this guy walking down the street in a dress. It would be an odd sight. Of course, we’re more lenient to that type of thing today.

iphigeneia's avatar

While we all started out wearing robe-like garments, because they are so much easier to make, I believe the transition of men into pants while women stayed in dresses arose because men were the workers, the soldiers, the sailors, the farmers, etc. That is why elite circles all over the world did not adopt trousers as quickly as the masses. It had nothing to do with wanting to see women’s legs, because you could not see them, especially with the evolution of bustles, farthingales and crinolines, etc. Easy access? Hah! It all has to do with the notion of femininity.

In fact, not only was it unfashionable for women to wear trousers, in many countries it was illegal. As far as I know, in Paris it’s actually still illegal! (and in some places these laws are still in place AND enforced)

From my point of view, I find dresses and skirts more comfortable than trousers. You mention the rain, but even when you wear pants the water will still soak through, unless they’re waterproof. As for the wind, I nearly always wear shorts under skirts; this isn’t cheating, because women wore pantalettes and bloomers under their dresses in the 19th Century.

deni's avatar

I hated dresses and skirts til about a year ago. Now I will tell you why I wear them all the time.

1. They are easier to get on and off especially with my extremely active bladder since you don’t have to unbutton, unzip, pull down…all you do is lift up and shazzam, you’re ready to pee.

2. They are so so so so so so so so so so so comfortable….and hellloo who doesn’t want a cool breeze through their legs?

3. Dresses are one article of clothing. You put it on and you’re done! You don’t have to worry about matching or what to wear and what goes with this and this and that…

Sometimes if I’m wearing a short skirt and I know I’ll be outside or lounging around or especially when I’m riding my bike, I just wear spandex under them. Then you can sprawl out and it aint no thang at all.

josie's avatar

I always figured it something to do with how each gender urinates combined with who tends to ride the horses. Girls can squat and the urine stream goes down (and maybe a little forward). They can thus wear lower covering that will accomodate that practice. Guy’s penis demands a forward “projection” so a long skirt would be cumbersome, and since guys probably rode horses more often than women, they needed their legs covered anyway. If it were not for the horses, everybody would probably wear something sort of like a skirt, but the guy’s skirt would be shorter, like a kilt, to allow easier peeing.

JLeslie's avatar

Horseback riding and bicycle riding both easier and safer with pants on @josie makes another good point about practicality. “Girls bikes” are still made for skirts though.

YARNLADY's avatar

@josie That’s pretty much what I thought. Clothing customs change over time, so it may just be ‘fashion’ that is created by the ‘celebrities’ of each age.

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