Why do we say we are putting on a pair of pants or a pair of panties on?

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Posted February 5th, 2009 at 9:35 pm

My mother always used to say “go and put on a pair of pants” or go and put a clean pair of panties on” which I always thought was funny because I only wear one pair of pants or panties. She could never give me a proper answer as to why they are called a pair of pants or a pair of panties, other than it’s probably because they have two leg openings.
So when I asked her “well why don’t you say your putting a pair of bra’s on” she couldn’t answer and just smiled at me.
Well, because it’s always puzzled me I did some research apparently it all goes back to medieval times when pants or panties were refered to as bloomers or knickerbockers and which we now call knickers ” yes but we still say putting on a pair of knickers”.
In those early days underwear, pants, trousers, etc were made in two parts, each part for each leg. The pieces were put on each leg separately and then fastened with a cord or a belt. So the simple answer is the plural “pair” has persisted over time even though pants and panties are now manufactured and worn as one piece.

Putting panties on

Putting panties on

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