best harem pants

Harem pants have been loved by men and women alike for centuries. Their history is very interesting and even quite contentious sometimes: some historians believe they were first worn by men in Persia about 2000 years ago while others believe they were first worn by Arabic women in the 19th Century. No one really knows who wore them first!

Today, harem pants are a symbol of freedom, comfort, and a laid-back sense of style. They are a staple of western fashion and have become iconic trousers all over the world.

In this guide:

Quick Answer: Best Harem Pants

These are the 12 best harem pants:

  1. B Bangkok Women’s Harem Pants – Top Choice for Best Harem Pants
  2. PacBreeze Side Slit Women’s Harem Pants – Best Slit Harem Pants
  3. BaishenGGT Women’s Floral Harem Trousers – Best Loose Harem Pants
  4. Banjamath Elastic Waist Women’s Harem Pants – Best Elastic Waist Harem Pants
  5. PacBreeze Women’s Side Slit Beach Pants – Best Harem Pants for Dancers
  6. PNKJ Bohemian Baggy Pants – Best Boho Chic Harem Pants
  7. BOHOPants Harem Yoga Trousers – Best Travel Harem Pants
  8. BeadChica Tie n Dye Hippie Pants – Coolest Harem Pants
  9. Avacostume Women’s Harem Pants – Best Uniquely Designed Harem Pants
  10. Gafeng Men’s 3/4 Harem Pants – Best Men’s Harem Pants
  11. DibaoLong Women’s Harem Pants – Best High Waist Harem Pants
  12. Sarjana Men’s Cotton Harem Pants – Most Comfortable Men’s Harem Pants

Best Harem Pants

Harem pants history

Harem pants have been around for centuries. Their unique designs can be seen in the fashion of various cultures around the world. But where did they come from? What is the true history of harem pants?

Well, here is a look at the fascinating history of harem pants.

Were harem pants first worn in North Africa or Persia?

Some historians suggest that harem pants were first worn by Persian men about 2000 years ago. This would make harem pants a Persian invention that was first designed for men.

However, many other historians disagree with this. They suggest that the first harem trousers were worn by women in North Africa and the Middle East.

This would explain their name: ‘harem‘ is an Arabic word that means ‘a sacred place for women.’ Traditionally, harems were places where the female members of the family could sit and interact with each other. They were reserved for wives, concubines, and female servants, and men were forbidden to enter.

The word ‘harem’ was also used to define a group of women that occupied the harem in a household. This means the wives, concubines, and female servants of a polygamous man would also be called his ‘harem’.

Many 19th Century illustrations feature women in harems wearing large trousers that look like early versions of modern harem pants. Historians believe they did this to preserve their modesty. For this reason, it is generally agreed that this is where harem pants got their name.

dancing in the harem giulio rosati
Dancing in the Harem by Giulio Rosati (1857-1917) painting showing women in harem pants

Harem Trousers in Asia

While African and Middle Eastern people were wearing harem pants, a similar style of pants was also being worn in south-east Asia. Historical evidence shows that the Hmong people of Laos, China, and Thailand had also developed their own versions of harem pants.

Asian harem trousers were styled a little differently. Instead of a tulip bottom on each leg, they were wide and worn low on the crotch.

In Thailand, these pants were known as ‘kangkeng le‘ and worn by fishermen. They were lightweight and unisex and designed with wide waists so anyone could wear them no matter what body shape or size they were. This is why harem pants are sometimes called Thai pants today.

Harem pants in the French Army

French colonialists in North Africa in the 19th Century saw the comfortable designs of the pants that the locals wore. The pants were perfect for the desert environment: light, airy, loose, and breathable.

Seeing the benefits of these unique pants, the French military incorporated them into their uniform. This is how the pants were introduced to greater Europe.

Before long, women in Europe started adopting the comfortable harem trouser style and incorporating them into their wardrobes. Constructive Victorian corsets were going out of style and this provided a great alternative.

With the growth of the women’s suffrage movement, more and more women started shunning traditionally restrictive women’s fashion. In the US, Amelia Bloomer was one of the early adopters of harem trousers. For a while, the pants were even named after here: they were called bloomers.

While harem pants had been steadily growing in popularity, they never really went mainstream until the 1920s. This was when French designer Paul Poiret turned the pants into fashion icons and a symbol of a modern woman’s freedom.

Harem pants in modern times

The style and fashion of the hippie movement of the 1960s and 1970s were partly inspired by the designs of Poiret.

In the 1980s, harem pants got yet another boost, this time, from an unexpected source: rapper MC Hammer! He loved loose, shiny pants that moved as he danced. His deep red pants and yellow jacket have even been named one of music’s most memorable outfits of all time.

By the 90s, harem pants had finally become cool. Today, celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Hailey Baldwin, Jessie J, Selena Gomez, Justin Beiber, Jennifer Lopez, and more have become almost synonymous with them.

Harem pants today commonly feature bold colors and prints. A lot of these are often African or East-Asian inspired, perhaps as a homage to the pants’ roots. They are popular because they are comfortable and stylish- which means you can wear them in almost any situation: from yoga to a beach vacation to just being lazy in the house.

Final Thoughts

So, who do you think wore harem first? Men or women?

Well, when you think about it, who wore them first really doesn’t matter that much. From humble origins, they have risen in popularity to become one of the coolest trousers you can wear today.

If you want to add these iconic pants to your wardrobe, you can be sure to find a pair that you’ll fall in love with on this list.

Be sure to also check out our guides to harem pants for men and women and harem shorts. Need more ideas? How about these wine racks?

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