Like other similar forms of leg covering, women's stretch trousers did not become a mainstay of female fashion until the latter half of the twentieth century. Although some civilizations did have trouser wearing people in ancient times, both Roman and Greek cultures looked down on such garments. In the west, this tradition continued for many centuries so far as women were concerned, at least. It was not until the 1840s and 1850s that women began to call for the 'right' to wear long trousers, just as their menfolk did. However, the widespread use of trousers among women did not really take off until the Second World War, when their practicality as items of clothing in factories and in uniform made them essential to the war effort. Throughout the 1950s, wider fitting trousers continued to be worn by women in increasing numbers. However, it was only in the decades that followed that womens stretch trousers began to enter the consciousness of mainstream society. This is largely because of the materials that were needed to make womens stretch trousers were only just being invented and applied to the fashion industry. Materials such as elastane, spandex and nylon all meant that stretchy fitting trousers for men and women were now possible to make in large numbers. Originally designed for very specific purposes, such as certain sporting activities where complete freedom of movement over the lower body was essential, soon womens stretch trousers became fashionable items in their own right. Today, few women would consider their wardrobe complete without at least one pair of tight fitting and stretchy trousers.
Most women's stretch trousers are made from two cuts of material, one for each leg. They are sewn together at the gusset and run from the ankle to the waist of the wearer. Some womens stretch trousers will only extend as far as the calf, or even just below the knee, but full-length legs are by far the commonest among stretchy trousers. Some female stretch trousers extend up over the waist, like tights or leggings, but others rest at the hips of just above them, sometimes relying on a belt to hold them up. In most cases, however, the waist has an extra amount of elastication to make sure that the don't fall down unexpected. Nonetheless, sometimes this is not required because the stretchy material that the trousers are made from is adequate in its own right without any further elastic.
These days, stretch trousers can be figure hugging at the waist and tummy, often flattening out the body to create a slimming and feminine look, without need to be tight-fitting at the ankle. This hybrid sort of look allows some women to benefit from the appearance and feel of stretch trousers whilst disguising the fact that they are wearing such a garment, especially if a jumper or blouse hands over the midriff. Nevertheless, many womens stretch trousers are more like leggings these days in that they stretch all over the waist, hips, thighs and lower legs right down to the ankle. In terms of colour, women's stretch trousers can be dyed to just about anything that you could imagine. However, bold prints have been fashionable for a number of years, particularly with stretchy trousers which are marketed as gym or yoga garments, a common example of this sort of clothing.
As mentioned, womens stretch trousers are often to be found worn by gym-goers who need a comfortable item of clothing for their lower body which allows them to move in all sorts of directions with confidence that the material will not rip when it comes under stress. The elasticated materials of stretch trousers make them the ideal product for this purpose. In addition, stretch trousers are often chosen by walkers and hikers for much the same reason. The stretchy fabric used in many types of walking trousers enhances the wearer's mobility while the elasticated waist affords a good deal of comfort, too. Such modern fabrics are often water resistant and wind proof, as well. For this reason alone they make exceptional choices for outdoor wear.
Unlike men's stretch trousers, which are sold by their waist and inside leg measurements, womens stretch trousers are marketed with the traditional number system, from size 8 right through to size 18 or more. Regular, long and short tend to be the most common leg sizes that manufacturers opt for, but it is perfectly possible to find them sized from XS to XXL, as well, if preferred.