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    #1

    slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Hello guys,

    I was wondering what the difference between slacks , pants and trousers is.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    This may help: Trousers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In the US, we tend to wear "pants" instead of "trousers" (though we certainly understand the word).
    In the UK, "pants" are what we in the US call "underpants" or "underwear." - Panties, boxers, briefs, etc.

    I think of "slacks" as dressier pants. I might say I need a new pair of slacks that are suitable for work.

    Jeans are a type of pants, but not a type of "slacks."

    Again - my words are US, not UK.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    This may help: Trousers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    In the US, we tend to wear "pants" instead of "trousers" (though we certainly understand the word).
    In the UK, "pants" are what we in the US call "underpants" or "underwear." - Panties, boxers, briefs, etc.

    I think of "slacks" as dressier pants. I might say I need a new pair of slacks that are suitable for work.

    Jeans are a type of pants, but not a type of "slacks."

    Again - my words are US, not UK.
    This, as is the case with most things, depends on many things. In the US Marine Corps we were taught early on that women wear pants and men wear trousers. Looking at an Marine Corps clothing issue invoice one would read "Trousers, 2 each, dress green. Trousers, 2 each, utility." I agree that most males call trousers pants but if a man goes to a store to purchase a suit the clerk will refer to the lower part as trousers.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Hence, my "tend."

    If you're packing for the weekend, I believe most (American) wives will say "Don't forget to pack a pair a nice pair of pants in case we go out to dinner" and not "Don't forget to pack a nice pair of trousers..."

    People in the clothing industry actually say "pant" - "This pant is 7% Lyrca..." "Feel how this pant has a smooth hand?"

    I have never in my life referred to a single garment as a "pant." My husband, who has been in the men's clothing industry for decades, does.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Interestingly, in BrE, "slacks" are less formal than "trousers". A pair of trousers might well be worn to work, but "slacks" are usually looser, more casual trousers, sometimes made of corduroy. Indeed, my father favours "corduroy slacks".

    For me, these are [suit] trousers, and these are slacks. As Barb said, jeans are a type of trousers but not a type of slacks. I can't explain why.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #6

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Interestingly, in BrE, "slacks" are less formal than "trousers". A pair of trousers might well be worn to work, but "slacks" are usually looser, more casual trousers, sometimes made of corduroy. Indeed, my father favours "corduroy slacks".

    For me, these are [suit] trousers, and these are slacks. As Barb said, jeans are a type of trousers but not a type of slacks. I can't explain why.
    Jeans are usually made from denim and are coarser than slacks or suit trousers. Because of this, jeans are considered appropriate for work or recreation but generally not for the office.

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    #7

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillnetter View Post
    Jeans are usually made from denim and are coarser than slacks or suit trousers. Because of this, jeans are considered appropriate for work or recreation but generally not for the office.
    I wonder if we've just discovered another AmE vs BrE difference. When I read your "jeans are considered appropriate for work", I immediately thought "Wow, they must have a really casual attitude to work attire in the States. Most place here wouldn't let you wear jeans to work". In BrE, what you wear "to work" covers all jobs. So if I worked in an office, I would have to wear clothes which are suitable to wear for work. I assume that in AmE, clothes you wear "for work" means for doing manual labour or something similar. Am I right?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #8

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Hmm. The word can mean both things.
    When I say "I need to get some new pants for work" I mean "suitable for the office."

    But if my mind was focused on things like "yard work" or something involving "labor" I might write "work" without thinking about how ambiguous that would sound.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #9

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Thank you guys for the replies.
    i just still to find it difficult to explain what slacks are to my students. I use an American coursebook and it has a picture of a middle aged man wearing classic pants (not jeans), and labels them as slacks. So, I understood from this that slacks are pants that are made of any material other than jeans, right? But what do we call the pants that are parts of a suit? And are slacks made from certain material and commonly used for certain activities?

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    #10

    Re: slacks vs pants vs trousers

    Tell your students the truth - native speakers can't agree on a precise definition of 'slacks'.

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