Trousers vs Pants: Let’s Know Their Difference!

Wikipedia and other sources sure have most of the information you need, but when it comes to knowing the difference between trousers and pants, they usually lead you to a network of explanations filled with rocketry. 

So today, we are providing you with a foolproof article that’s simple enough to grasp as well as loaded with chunks of details for all the benefits you can think of. Whether you are simply interested in the etymology of these words or you’re meticulous about their usage, you’re in the right place.  

What to Know About Trousers

Trousers are basically garments that are worn from the waist down to the ankles. This is a term commonly used by the British people or generally those who live in the UK. Once you get there, be sure your vocabulary is ready to be switched and jumbled.

At the start of its prominence, trousers used to be the staple wear of men. Only in the late 20th century did women jump into the fad and primarily found comfort wearing it.

I mean come on, you can’t do a lot in a long skirt let alone do a big jump nor comfortably ride a horse, can you? Trousers are provided with fastenings to keep them in place. Some would use suspenders or the most common ones are the belt.

What to Know About Pants

It should give you enough of a hint already that the word trousers and pants differ only depending on where you are. Should you cross the pond and step foot in the land of America, what the British people refer to as trousers automatically change to the word pants.

The same definition applies to it, it’s just that you are in a different place with a different set of words and meanings. Should you insist on using the term “trousers”, people will take that as formal pants. You know, the ones that are tailored.

Meanwhile, if you get back to the UK and use pants as a word, they will not take it as trousers. Instead, this will mean undergarments, underwear, or as some would call it, underpants. 

Really knowing the difference and when to use which word can save you from heaps of embarrassing and awkward moments as an American having a dialogue with a Brit.

For instance, if you compliment a Londoner’s pants as an American, he would think you’re referring to his boxers or briefs. It’s not going to be uncomfortable commenting on an American’s pants as someone from the UK though.

More Points To Ponder

Pants and trousers are the same things and the confusion we get concerning how they are used is something that’s dealt with between people from the UK and the US. Meanwhile, in some countries like Australia and several other parts of Asia, pants and trousers can be used interchangeably. Bottom line is that both mean the same thing.

Difference Between Pants and Trousers in a Nutshell

Still feeling a bit confused? Here’s a table that highlights the major differences between pants and trousers geographical-wise:

In the UK, pants specifically refer to what people of any gender wear underneath their trousers.Trousers is a British term for pants that cover each leg separately from the waist down to the ankle.
In the US, pants meant outer garments worn from the waist down to the ankle with a division for each leg.Trousers include all different types from casual to formal ones in the UK. On the other hand, American people see them as something a bit more formal.

5 Different Types of Pants and Trousers

Additionally, pants or trousers can be called by different names like khakis, chinos, jeans, and more. There may be no difference between pants and trousers in general but there will be if we compare their types with one another.

To avoid labeling chinos as khakis, or jeans as a type of slacks pants, we will lay out their individual description for clarity.

1. Jeans

This garment for the legs is one of the most common and most recognizable for many of us. Jeans are made from dungaree cloth or jeans fabric. The typical color is blue and it has different washes available to its distinct design.

The denim jeans were invented in the 1870s by Levi Strauss of Levi’s Jeans and Jacob Davis. With several alterations and creativity, the jeans they made became a work of art.

Their product resulted in something that’s sturdy enough for a laborer to wear all day, every day.

2. Chinos

Chinos have been with us since the 19th century during the Spanish-American war. These pants were made from China hence the alternate word “Chino”. Mainly, these pants were worn for the military and were standardly constructed to be slim in fit and reduced the number of pockets to economize on the use of fabric.

Compared to other pants, chinos look more tailored and streamlined. Overall, this has a more put-together appearance due to its closeness in similarity with slacks and dress pants. The pockets are not too large and there are no unnecessary seams.

You can see these pants worn mostly as part of the school uniform for boys and despite it looking close to the formal types of pants, the fabric screams casual.


3. Slacks

Another type of pants or trousers is slacks. In the old times, slacks was a Saxon word that implies something that is loose like the sail or the rope. When this eventually became associated with menswear, slacks were meant to be garments that are not form-fitting and would usually hang freely.

Commonly, slacks are made out of blended fabric or of smooth, wool knit. If you wear a pair, you can see it’s more dressy than most casual trousers out there. You can complete a look with slacks as your statement fashion garment with suit separates or a matching blazer.

4. Corduroys

Wondering what trousers made from soft, ridged fabric are called? Those are corduroys– your alternative if you find jeans too casual for a family event. The pile-cut yarn is woven and cut into wales or cords, therefore the fuzzy texture is perfect to be worn during the fall or winter seasons.

Some pants of this kind are printed and are significantly different in level when it comes to fashion standards. Printed corduroys are best paired with high-heeled boots with a designer black belt.

5. Khakis

A pair of khaki pants is what you would wear on a hot, humid day. This was first made when a British officer serving in Punjab traded his wool trousers and jackets for garments that are made from lighter fabrics like native cotton and are made to fit loosely.

He used the Mazari, a native plant, to dye the raiment, and out it produced a dusty tan color which the locals branded as “khaki”.

For a simpler indication that the pants you’re eyeing are khakis or not, you just have to know that khakis are basically military trousers in a broad category. They are thicker and square-off pieces of clothing in comparison to chinos which happen to fall in the same category, hence the common confusion among people.