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Women’s clothes v. men’s clothes

jyang949 | Posted in General Discussion on

We went to Old Navy to buy girls’ clothes. It was the first time I’d been to this store, which was like one huge room. Sometimes it was not obvious where one department ended and the next began.

There was a jeans display in the aisle between the girls’ and boy’s sections. My daughter asked, “How can you tell if they are girl’s pants or boy’s pants?”

“Probably the same as with shirts. A girl’s shirt has buttons are on the left side and buttonholes on the right. If the buttons are on the right, then it’s either a boy’s shirt or unisex.” The girls were surprised; they had not noticed that before. “Girl’s pants should have the zipper flap on the right side.” These jeans had the flap on the left…but then I saw that *every* pair of pants in the store had the flap on the left side.

Have pants always had the flap on the left side, or did women’s pants used to be right-over-left?



  1. jyang949 | | #1

    I asked the salesclerk at GapKids how to tell girl's jeans from boy's.

    "Well, at this store, you can tell by looking inside the waistband, at the center back. Girl's jeans have will have the word "Gap" embroidered there, while boy's have a sewn-on label identifying the style of jeans.

    "Of course, we've had a lot of boys buying girl jeans." That was hard to believe, mainly because I was picturing jeans with cute, girlish designs. But she was talking about plain jeans. "Girl jeans have narrower legs, and some boys wear them to get the skin-tight look."


    1. MaryinColorado | | #2

      That brings back memories!  When my daughter was little, the only jeans that fit her tiny figure were Sears toughskins super slims or ones that I made.  She insisted that I make them girly so no one would "know".  All that hand embroidering....wow!  I am so happy they make jeans to fit so many figure types today, and to have an embroidery machine now, and my grand daughter loves to use it. 

      Boys and mens jeans now have larger waists and slimmer hips usually.  Hmmmm maybe I will try on some mens jeans now that my waist is so much closer to my hip measurement............of course I will have to embroider them so they look "girly" and no one will know...except my embroidery machine and my lab.........and you won't tell, right?

      1. jyang949 | | #3

        I think the boy's and men's jeans always had a larger waist:hips ratio than women's jeans. Back in the 1970s a lot of girls were buying boy's jeans. I tried it once and found that I could pull off the jeans without unzipping, because the waist was nearly as wide as the hips. Janet

  2. Teaf5 | | #4

    The whole male/female button issue was based on the fact that women's dresses usually buttoned up the back, so they usually had someone else (usually right-handed) buttoning them, while men's shirts and pants buttoned up the front, so that they could do the buttons themselves. Women didn't wear pants until the mid 20th century, and pants didn't come with zippers unitl just before then, so the gender rule probably didn't apply universally.

    With a zipper, it doesn't really matter which side the flap is on, as you don't have to fumble with the button anymore. I think early women's trousers may have followed the buttoning rule, but nowadays, they all seem to have the flap on the left so that the predominantly right-handed customers can reach the zipper pull easily. As I write this, I am suddenly aware that lefties have yet another obstacle in their lives!

  3. SchnauzerMom | | #5

    I remember back in high school, late 60's and early 70's I couldn't find jeans for girls at all.  So I had to buy boy's jeans.  The fit is definitely different, probably because boys usually have narrow hips and girls usually have round hips.  I won't say just how round my hips are now. 

  4. HeartFire2 | | #6

    Ah, but we are forgetting the old "gig line" (this is back from my days in the military) The edge of the shirt placket had to line up perfectly with the edge of the fly front on the pants! Now the fatigues (BDU's) we (women) wore were mens clothes, but I suppose if they made female specific, they would make the pants fasten the other way - they still had button on the pants, the theory being that if you lost one button the pants would still work, but if the zipper broke you were s.o.l.

    Edited 9/1/2006 4:57 pm ET by HeartFire2

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