What are Hot Pants?

Devon Pryor

Hot pants are actually not pants, but are shorts. They are, in fact, characterized by being short — about as short as possible — and are sometimes known as short shorts. Hot pants are thought to have been inspired by the miniskirt. Having two separate holes for the legs, they could achieve even shorter lengths than the miniskirt, while still staying in place.

A woman in hot pants and a short top.
A woman in hot pants and a short top.

These shorts first became a popular fashion during the 1970s and were often worn to disco clubs during these years. They are considered a disco fashion, but hot pants were not only worn while grooving under the mirrored disco ball — they were also a popular fashion item for everyday street clothes.

Hots pants are extremely short shorts.
Hots pants are extremely short shorts.

During the heyday of hot pants, their place in the office held mixed reviews. For example, while many companies forbade their employees to wear the shorts to work, others embraced the fashion. Southwest Airlines, for example, proudly incorporated them into the company uniform. 1970s television commercials and print ads for the airlines show stewardesses wearing short shorts, along with tall, heeled boots, which were a popular accompaniment.

Hot pants were popular at disco clubs of the 1970s.
Hot pants were popular at disco clubs of the 1970s.

Hot pants were sometimes worn very tight to the hips, waist and bottom. It was common to see these super-tight shorts on pin-up posters, often worn with a short top that showed the midriff. Hot pants were often worn with stockings or tights underneath, but many ladies were brave enough to wear the leg revealing shorts alone.

Hot pants are not pants at all, but shorts, and short shorts at that.
Hot pants are not pants at all, but shorts, and short shorts at that.

Another common way to wear them was with a long top that came down and covered the hips. These tops were so long, and hot pants were so short, that the shorts might be almost completely hidden by the top. Tops could also be tucked into them, a slightly more body revealing style. Whether the top worn was tucked in or worn over the shorts, it was very common to wear a low-slung, wide belt and tall boots that reached almost to the knee.

Hot pants are shorts made as short as possible.
Hot pants are shorts made as short as possible.

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Discussion Comments


No! Actual "Hot Pants" have a cuff.


There's an online video called "Cotton Club Dancers Bust Some Moves" filmed in 1933 and one of the dancers is wearing hot pants. This style of shorts obviously dates back much further than generally ascribed.


How would people fit into hot pants?


@Oceanswimmer: Try again. "The Dukes of Hazzard," which inspired the term "Daisy Dukes" began in 1979, and ran through the early 80s. They became popular in the late 70's as this show popularized them. Similar to guy's short shorts in the 80's due to the very popular Thomas Magnum, who also inspired the Hawaiian shirts.


@chrisinbama: They are not exactly the same, although, Daisy’s shorts were definitely considered “hot”. Hot pants, as a general rule, have an inseam length of less than two inches. They are short and tight.

Hot pants were usually made of nylon, cotton, or some other common material.

“Daisy Dukes”, as they were commonly known, were cut off jeans. They were cut off above the knee. They are not hemmed so the fabric is left to fray. They even sold in stores that way. They became popular in the early 70’s.

In the hit show “The Dukes of Hazzard”, Catherine Bach’s character, Daisy, displayed an ultra-short version, which led to the name “Daisy Dukes”.


Were Daisy Duke's shorts considered to be "hot pants"?

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