History of Harem Trousers/Harem Pants

Welcome to a brief history of harem trousers/harem pants. We love this style of trouser here at Mystical Mayhem Hippy Clothing and we have such a variety for you to choose from that we thought that we would share a bit of their history with you.

History of Harem Trousers/Harem Pants

History of Harem Trousers/Harem Pants

Harem pants are now a huge part of the hippy clothing lifestyle but obviously that was not always the case.

Harem pants or harem trousers are baggy, long pants caught in at the ankle. Early on, the style was also called a ‘harem skirt’, ‘Turkish dress’ as you will notice the trousers do very much resemble a skirt due to baggy look.

The harem style trouser or harem pant has been around a lot longer than you might have thought.  Although the harem trouser has had many come backs through the years these trousers were first seen in the Kingdom of Persia approximately 2,000 years ago, the pants were worn by women among different middle-eastern tribes to represent modesty and innocence. This can be seen through the style and design of the original harem pants, they resembled what we would know as bloomers by being very loose around the hips and legs thus for hiding the feminine body shape.

The harem pants or harem trouser in one of their first incarnations made it onto the western scene in the 1800s.


History of Harem Trousers/Harem Pants In 1851, Amelia Bloomer who was an American women’s rights and temperance advocate hosted a gathering and to this gathering, came Elizabeth Smith Miller and what an impression she made as she attended wearing a “Turkish dress” .  The very next month Amelia announced to her readers that she had adopted and was wearing the dress and. After many inquiries, Amelia then printed a description of her dress and instructions on how to make it.  Soon after, many newspapers had dubbed the newly adapted Turkish dress as “Bloomer dress”.

Even though she did not create the women’s clothing reform style known as bloomers (harem pants), her name became associated with it because of her early and strong advocacy of the garment.  Pants had not been worn by women in public before this time period,they illustrated the gender boundaries they intended to break and were warm by many of the feminine groups including suffragists and Strangite Mormons.  Harem trousers/pants as we know them today look very different to the original form so don’t get any ideas that the women’s movement were wearing bright hippy coloured funky trousers as they were generally light coloured possibly with some fine detail around the ankle and waist band.

The Bloomer was a major symbol of women’s rights movement in the early 1850s but after three years of wearing the dress and fearing that the new dress was drawing attention away from the suffragist cause, many of these women returned to corsets, long skirts, and more conventional forms of dress.


We have mentioned that in the 1800s the harem trouser was first introduced to western society but it wasn’t until 1900s that the style moved on into a more middle eastern style. 

In 1911 the Paris couturier Paul Poiret introduced another incarnation of the harem pants as part of his efforts to reinvent and ‘liberate’ Western female fashion.   The trousers were inspired by Middle East styles, and by Turkish trousers known as şalvar.   The term ‘harem pants’ subsequently became popular in the West as a generic term for baggy trousers caught in at the ankle. Alternative names for the harem skirt/pants included jupe-sultane (sultan skirt), and jupe-pantalon (trouser-skirt). These designs were seen as controversial as Western women typically did not wear trousers at the time as trousers were seen as a male piece of clothing.

The way that Poiret used the imagery of harem pants was regarded as immoral and sexualised due to the exotic natures of the images. Poiret himself said that it was he who had designed the style of harem pants and that he did so to enable women to be able to show off her form and suppleness. It was suggested that harem pants, represented the point at which Western fashion began seriously changing and began to challenging traditional cultural style and make them into new styles.  

History of Harem Trousers/Harem PantsHarem Trousers/Harem Pants at Mystical Mayhem Hippy Clothing

As we love this style of hippy clothing, we decided some time ago that we would try where possible, to grow our range of harem trousers into something quite special and well, we are now proud to present to you our very extensive range of festival clothing harem pants.