Fashion may change, styles come and go, but dressing up for society's formal occasions has changed little over the last one hundred years. For the ladies it's the chance to wear an elaborate gown in the latest style, but for men it still involves sticking to a traditional formal dress code that dictates the wearing of a jacket, appropriate tie and smart trousers.

The first identifiable pair of formal trousers can be traced back to the 15th century when they were known as individual hose, one on each leg. Easy to make, they fastened with ties called points to a doublet at the waist. As time went by the hose were joined, firstly only at the back then eventually across the front. However, despite being joined to form a single garment, trousers were still referred to as a 'pair', just as they are today.

As with most fashion of the age, the French were responsible for introducing full length trousers to Britain during the 19th century. In order to differentiate themselves from despised aristocrats, the French working class adopted full length trousers in place of the highly stylized aristocrats' breeches, and the fashion soon crossed the channel.

Other notable developments in trouser fashion include the adoption of wearing denim. However, contrary to popular belief it was sailors - not cowboys - that first pulled on a pair of jeans. Indeed, sailors have long influenced trousers' wearing habits around the world as they travel between ports and countries, picking up different styles and types and taking them to other parts of the world.

In the 21st century, appearance is important in many societies across the world where dress codes communicate a message claiming personal or cultural identity and also define social norms. In every culture fashion plays a big part in what people wear. For example, wearing expensive designer clothes communicates the wealth of the wearer in most societies. And, in most western societies it is customary for men to wear formal trousers in preference to skirts at society events with the notable exception of Scotland, where many men opt to wear kilts instead of formal trousers on special occasions.

However, when it comes to formal wear the code applies more rigidly to men rather than women. Ladies can wear any type of dress whereas men must strictly abide by the dress code in which formal suits, accompanied with shirt and tie are normally required to be worn. The 'rules' are recognized widely throughout Europe, Australasia and Japan whereas the USA is much more relaxed about such formal occasions.

But, wherever such formal dress codes apply, then formal trousers, a smart jacket and appropriate tie are mandatory for male guests!

About the Author:

Matthew Pressman is a freelance writer and frequent flyer. When not traveling, he enjoys golf and fishing.

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