"Can I have some old style pants?" I asked. Mark the squad boss paused and sized me up, before rummaging through a pile of green pants to find my size. Months later he approached me to say, "When you asked for old style pants, I knew you were all right."
"Old style pants" were seemingly modeled on 1980s dress pants: wide legged, with slash pockets in front, they had no place for storage, requiring the occupant to carry pens, small notebooks, and other items in an infernally uncomfortable harness around the chest widely referred to as a "radio bra" because it also housed a two way radio. They were not fashionable pants, but they were comfortable, and far better than what was replacing them at the time: the infamous "jean style."
|It's hard to tell, but I'm wearing the old style pants here.|
Some well-intentioned soul designed a women's version of these jeans. A true high rise mom jean, they either gapped in the waist and grabbed the hips like a boa constrictor, or vice versa. Most women avoided these and resigned themselves to the men's pants.
Cargo pants were the next to appear. Smokejumpers, known for their sewing ability, tinkered with them, coming up with Kevlar and other versions. I grabbed a prototype pair and never looked back. These pants, while still designed for men, fit loosely and had tons of pockets, so the dorky radio bra could be abandoned. They still had issues: being built for a man, the pants sagged, chafed women's legs, and were usually too long. But they were better than anything else we had tried.
|Cargo pants, 1997|
A private company had developed cargo pants for women. Low rise, they fit comfortably and true to size, unlike some "vanity size" pants (Prana, I'm looking at you: while flattering, there is no way I should be a size 2). But there was a problem. Because there was a single source we were supposed to buy from, these pants were off limits for us. She had found a loophole, though.
In order to buy them, she had to create a "job hazard analysis," basically outlining the problems with men's pants: the chafing, uncomfortable seams, sagging. In 2017, it seems ridiculous to have to do this to get pants that fit women. But it was what we had to do, and in the end, we had our "girl pants."
Since it's a hassle to get them, we guard them carefully. Project work? Barbed wire in the area? Throw on the cargos. Handing them out to crew members? Make sure they give them back at the end of the season. It's a sign of progress, though, finally. Yay for girl pants!
|Picture from here|