If you are in North America or Western Europe and look around, on any particular day, you will find most people wearing pants. But why is it the standard item of clothing for people, especially men belonging to the Western civilization. Why not a kilt, a robe, a tunic, a sarong, or a toga?

I asked this question here two days ago and got a variety of replies. As you will see, my preferred explanation will use several of the reasons people brought up. However, the most common theme in the discussion was utility or convenience. Here’s where I disagree: comfort provides (at most) 10 percent of the explanation. Just think of that ridiculous contraption, the tie, that you have to wear if you want to be elected to public office, or to become CEO. No, the much more important factors are the social ones: conforming to social norms and signaling social identity or status.

To convince you of the primacy of social factors I urge you to check out this extremely funny site, Bravehearts in Kilts Against Trouser Tyranny:


This site is hilarious not because the Bravehearts in Kilts are stupid, but precisely for the opposite reason. Once you have read their passionate defense of the kilt, you (at least if you are a male) will realize that it is us, pant-wearers, who are stupid. In warm climates or during summers in the temperate zone the kilt is much more comfortable to wear than the jeans.

Male’s testes hang outside the body for a reason: the optimum temperature for spermatogenesis is a couple of degrees less than the body temperature. So wearing tight pants kinda defeats that purpose.

Read more at Social Evolution Forum

Peter Turchin

Peter Turchin

Curriculum Vitae

Peter Turchin is an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Connecticut who works in the field of historical social science that he and his colleagues call Cliodynamics. His research interests lie at the intersection of social and cultural evolution, historical macrosociology, economic history and cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Currently he investigates a set of broad and interrelated questions. How do human societies evolve? In particular, what processes explain the evolution of ultrasociality—our capacity to cooperate in huge anonymous societies of millions? Why do we see such a staggering degree of inequality in economic performance and effectiveness of governance among nations? Turchin uses the theoretical framework of cultural multilevel selection to address these questions. Currently his main research effort is directed at coordinating the Seshat Databank project, which builds a massive historical database of cultural evolution that will enable us to empirically test theoretical predictions coming from various social evolution theories.

Turchin has published 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including a dozen in Nature, Science, and PNAS. His publications are frequently cited and in 2004 he was designated as “Highly cited researcher” by ISIHighlyCited.com. Turchin has authored seven books. His most recent book is Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth (Beresta Books, 2016).

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