Hotpants, hot pants, or booty shorts describe extremely short shorts,
which may be worn by women and, to a lesser extent, by men. While
hotpants were briefly a very popular element of mainstream fashion in
the early 1970s, by the mid-1970s they had become associated with the
sex industry, which contributed to their fall from fashion. However,
hotpants continue to be popular as clubwear well into the 2010s, and are
often worn within the entertainment industry, particularly as part of
cheerleader costumes, or for dancers (especially backup dancers).
Performer's such as Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue have famously worn
hotpants as part of their public performances and presentation.
Whilst the term "hotpants" is used generically to describe extremely
short shorts, similar garments had been worn since the 1930s.
These garments, however, were designed mainly for sports, beachwear and
leisure wear, while hotpants were innovative in that they were made from
non-activewear fabrics such as velvet, silk, crochet, fur and leather,
and styled explicitly to be worn on the street, for parties, or even as
bridal wear. Dorothy Tricario, a fashion curator at the Brooklyn Museum
told The New York Times in 1971 that hotpants were part of a greater
nostalgic revival of 1930s and 1940s fashion, specifically the short
posing shorts worn by Hollywood stars like Ruby Keeler, Deanna Durbin,
and Betty Grable. However, Tricario also observed that shorts had never
before had such widespread acceptance as street or business wear as they
did in early 1971.
At the end of the 1960s, the fashion industry had tried
unsuccessfully to promote the mid-calf-length or midi skirt as a
fashionable replacement for the miniskirt. In contrast to the lukewarm
response to the midi, shoppers enthusiastically embraced the idea of
short shorts, which were made available at all price levels from haute
couture to inexpensive ready-to-wear.
Hotpants are also increasingly credited to
Mary Quant, who reportedly offered
them in the late 1960s.
Hotpants can also be part of an uniform worn by cheerleaders and
perfomers, or required wear in certain service industries.
Southwest Airlines became notorious for the hotpants uniform they
supplied for their stewardesses (nick-named "Love Birds") in 1971, as
featured in an ad campaign with the slogan "Someone Else Up There Who
Also in 1971, the Hot Pants Patrol was introduced as an elite corps
of female ushers for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, with the
intention of attracting greater audiences for the games. While the
majority of "Fillies" wore white microskirts as part of their uniform,
the 36 members of the Hot Pants Patrol wore a red hotpants jumpsuit with
white vinyl go-go boots. After pressure from feminist
organisations, the Phillies retired the Hot Pants Patrol in 1982.
Hotpants or booty shorts remain a popular costume for cheerleaders
and dancers, particularly hip hop performers, and are frequently worn by
backup dancers. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad has a
particularly recognisable uniform featuring hotpants and midriff tops.
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