Once upon a time, there was a pair of pants so spacious that a fart wouldn’t even graze your buttcheeks on its way out. Pants so airy that a summer breeze might send you soaring over the Atlantic like a helium-inflated condom. But this particular tale is less of a fairytale, and more of a villain origin story: These pants were so inexplicably traumatic for me that for many moons I dreamt of shoving both arms into its elastic waistband and ripping them apart from the inside out like a raging She-Hulk bodybuilder with a full set of Cuisinart knives.
Gaucho pants, which were once perched atop bony tween hip bones about the length of a full-sized Neopet, never did much for confidence except to drown it in fabric. Often excrement-colored brown, the Y2K monstrosities didn’t serve a singular purpose other than cradling our guts. We had sweatpants, flared yoga pants, jeans, and leggings—we never needed this Frankenstein creation that chaffed our just-shaven legs and left a wind trail of puberty smells everywhere we went. We never needed to layer three to four ribbed tanktops over these atrocious precursors to the athleisure aesthetic (and yes, culottes and trousers are gaucho-esque, but far more acceptable, because they have a structure that isn’t bloated jellyfish). What we really needed all along was a little self-esteem.
Instead, the fashion industry gave us motherfucking gauchos—goading us to sneer with jealousy at the women who somehow looked good in them (the Ashley Tisdales who put a skirt over them, or the Ashlee Simpsons). Gauchos were nothing more than misogyny cloaked by two ballooning pant legs.
And the industry has now seemingly decided that the balm to a turbulent era marked by America’s great descent into hell is the return of gaucho pants, and the celebs are already like, “Bitch, I’m gonna make gauchos work.” Don’t get me wrong: Trousers are great! But gauchos aren’t trousers. They may be coded as “wide-leg yoga pants” or mistakenly labeled as imposters culottes or palazzo pants, but be forewarned that the double-legged parachutes are lurking in the shadows at Athleta, Mango, J. Crew, Asos, Revolve, Amazon, and more.
First things first: Despite the millennial generation’s (begrudgingly, my own generation’s) claim that they’re a product of the Nokia-fiend mall-rat cohort, gauchos never belonged to consumerism. Gauchos, also popular in the ‘70s as “workplace-friendly” attire for ladies, never even belonged to capitalism. Gauchos, initially, weren’t even pants. They were nomadic South American cowboys of mixed European and Indian ancestry in La Pampa of Argentina and Uruguay in the 1800s, who wore baggy pants for utilitarian reasons, such as long days on horseback.
But sure, gauchos should have absolutely grace dthe runways of Hermès and Chanel in 2010 and 2016, respectively, and then fallen down the mass consumerism chute to 13-year-old brats in the suburbs of Los Angeles, only to eventually reemerge on Dua Lipa.
According to US Weekly, gauchos are functionally cool because they “cinch your waist and provide tummy control, while the bottoms billow out for flowy movement.” A few problems here. I want my waist to be cuddled, not cinched. I like my tummy like I like my cows: free. And who needs pants that billow for movement, when I really prefer not to move around this little hell hole we call America? The gaucho pant could’ve been left alone, or at the very least, resurrected by a designer who wasn’t an old German man who revived a Nazi-apologist fashion house (RIP, Karl, thanks for ensuring the cyclical revival of these leg bags.)
Instead, every few years, fashion magazines claim that gauchos are BACK. In 2014, Glamour pronounced that the gauchos or the “pants-as-skirt trend is here to stay,” in 2018, W Magazine said gauchos were “about to be this season’s hottest item,” and last year TikTok declared brown gauchos were the “baddie blueprint.” And perhaps that’s true for those of us who once wore brown gauchos and rightly left them in the past. I just kindly beg that we leave them there in the BACK of the closet. Once and for all.
In theory, gauchos could’ve been feminism’s greatest recreation: They’re easy to slip on, they don’t cost us time or the emotional labor of picking out a pair of jeans, and they allow us to breeze down the street with the ease of a cis man who works at Goldman Sachs and drinks protein powder for every meal of the day. Yet here we are again, in the midst of a comeback. Gauchos have been forced upon us once more, recycled decade after decade without any change or warning.
To be sure, ma’ladies need comfortable pants, but one generation has barely recovered from the trauma of seeing photos of themselves in skirt-pants. Let’s give it a breather, please.