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What are Stirrup Pants?

By E. Ashantiva
Updated May 17, 2024
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Stirrup pants are tight-fitting women’s leg wear which have a stirrup-like strap at the bottom of each pant leg. The stirrup band, which usually contains elastic material, is placed under the arch of the foot. Like leggings, stirrup pants are close-fitting and often worn with long, flowing blouses or over-sized sweaters.

Generally, the fabric used for stirrup pants is cotton knit or a combination of rayon viscose, nylon, polyurethane, and cotton. Though unusual, denim and satin have also been used as material for these pants as well. Colors can be found in basic black, blue, and white and many other solid colors. For the fashion-adventurous, printed patterns, including leopard and zebra prints, are available in thrift or vintage retail stores.

In the 1980s, stirrup pants peaked in popularity. Along with big bangs, scrunchies (hair ties), loud earrings, leg warmers, fluorescent spandex and countless other eighties fashion fads, these pants have had their day in the sun. Many account the popularity of these tight-fitting pants to their ability to elongate the appearance of women’s legs. On the other hand, opinions to the contrary abound, citing stirrup pants’ knack for revealing and compounding every flaw in a woman’s figure. Furthermore, the stirrups at the bottom of each pant leg can be troublesome because they can pull the crotch of the pant down to an uncomfortable level.

Decidedly passé since the early-nineties, stirrup pants have been relegated to the bargain bins of many thrift stores. Yet, the new millennium marked a recent resurgence in the popularity of the pants. A retro-eighties craze began around 2006, and celebrities like Paris Hilton, the Olsen Twins, and Sarah Jessica Parker have been seen sporting the "trendy" pants. Also, rumor has it that Nicole Ritchie found some vintage stirrup pants in her own closet that she’s had from the second grade. Stores like the Gap, American Eagle, and Aeropostale were some of the first to jump on the fad bandwagon.

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Discussion Comments
By anon127414 — On Nov 16, 2010

I think they have come back a third time. Just seen some in M&S - leggings or jeggings with stirrups.

By 6pack — On Aug 19, 2008

Let's just hope the MC Hammer, parachute pants, or zubaz -- whatever you want to call them -- don't come back!

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