Trend History: Stirrup Pants

Seen on Fall/Winter 2016 runways–including Marni, VersaceTrademark, Balenciaga most recently– the stirrup pant is most notably associated with the fashion of the late 80s and early 90s. Seeing as the 80s are back in full force (see: culottes, ruffled shirts, shoulder pads), it is no surprise that the stirrup pant has made its return as well. But where did this trend begin?

Photo: Vogue UK

The stirrup pant has had quite a lengthy and transformative history. They were originally produced with the intention of helping female equestrians in the 1920s transition into seated position and out of sidesaddle. Then, at the 1936 Olympics, stirrup pants were used in skiing events, and maintained their use for skiing through the 60s.


In the 80s, they made a triumphant return once again as sportswear, through the rise of aerobics and in the form of leggings. And finally, in the 90s, they made their debut as what Steff Yotka from describes as “proto-athleisure.”  It is during this time that your mum likely sport the pants with a large shoulder-padded suit jacket. Or just a large, patterned crew neck sweater.

Will this pant trend return as strong as the culotte? Perhaps. In some memories, the prominence of the stirrup pant still leaves a scarring memory of a time when bootcut trousers were missing from street fashion. For others though, they have yet to experience the stirrup pant in its glory and think wearing them could be an exciting idea. Like Rihanna.

Knowing their history, will you wear them?

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