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Like many other forms of commonly worn female attire, womens short trousers were not always deemed to be socially acceptable in many parts of the world. For centuries and well into the twentieth century, it was considered improper for women's short trousers to be worn in many social settings. Short trousers might be approved of at some sporting occasions, but many professional sportswomen were expected to wear skirts, not shorts, if they wished to compete. Because womens short trousers expose the leg, they have often been associated with sexual connotations. However, at the end of the nineteenth century knickerbockers came into vogue. These garments were a sort of baggy shorts designed for women which were gathered together at the knees, for the sake of propriety. Eventually, the tide turned in favour of shorts.
Women were seen sporting short trousers in any numbers by the 1930s, when it became accepted behaviour for both men and women to sport them outdoors, especially if they were hiking, playing tennis or engaged in some other physical activity. During the Second World War, the popularity of womens short trousers took off, largely due to their popularity among the United States military. As a result, the 1950s saw a boom in ladies' short trousers with them being worn by all sorts of women and a much wider variety of social contexts and activities. It is important to note that women's short trousers are still often considered to be casual items of clothing to this day. In more formal settings, such as religious services, business meetings and court hearings, the wearing of women's short trousers is still frowned upon. However, over the course of the last decade or so womens short trousers are increasingly seen as semi-formal wear in office settings, for example.
Shorts trousers are now an essential item in any woman’s wardrobe. This is largely because they afford the wearer a great deal comfort, especially in hot or humid conditions. By allowing the skin of the legs to breathe naturally, they are practical, but also appeal in the same way as miniskirts do because they allow a good part of the lower legs of the wearer to be exposed. In colder conditions, there is a new fashion trend for women to wear tights or leggings beneath a pair of short trousers, which still allows them to show off their legs, if they wish, without having to switch to a pair of long trousers or a skirt.
Many womens short trousers are designed as a specific item of clothing. In other cases, women simply choose to recycle old or worn out long trousers by cutting them off at the thigh. This has been a fashion since the mid 1980s when performers like Madonna first started to wear ripped off jeans as shorts. Generally speaking, womens short trousers are made from a light and airy material because they will be worn when it is hot. Some have back pockets, some have front pockets and some have none at all. In addition, womens short trousers occasionally have belt loops, but in many other cases simply have an elasticated waist band to help hold them up.
The development of modern materials has lead to a plethora of women's short coming on to the market. Nowadays, specialist shorts for all manner of activities can be bought, from rock climbing, to playing football, cycling or running. However, it is as a fashion item that most women choose to think of the humble pair of shorts as. As such, they come in just about every material and design possible.
One of the commonest versions of shorts for women is the culotte. A stylish item of clothing, they are cut off at the knee and afford the wearer a smart look that is suited to business use. When standing, the look of a pair of culottes is much like a knee-length skirt. Capri shorts offer the wearer a semi-fitted and smart looking appearance, too. They reach down below the knee to about half way down calf and can be casual or formal, depending on the material used by the designer. Convertible shorts are another highly popular type of womens short trousers. Often worn by outdoor pursuits fans, they have a zip on each leg, just above the knee, which allows the lower leg to be attached or removed, as preferred. Finally, gym shorts are the least formal type. These women's short trousers shorts are loose fitting and made from stretchy and light material, often with an elasticated waist to allow for full body movement.