Hot Pants Definition presented by Apparel Search

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Who wears short shorts?  We wear short shorts. (Sorry if you are too young to get that reference.  The "who wears short shorts..." was an advertisement campaign from the 1980's for Nair.  If you want to see the Nair commercials you can find on youtube.


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 Loves You."

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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