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What not to wear: Zouave pants

And you thought mental_floss Fashion Week was over! I just came across this piece in the IHT that completely stymied me with regards to a look seen at left on the Marc Jacobs and YSL runways:

"She wore bold checked jackets that flared away from the body and slim skirts. The silhouette was vaguely reminiscent of the 1980s - or even of the 1970s, when those weird zouave pants were first shown as fashion."

Those weird what pants? It turns out this look was originally worn by particularly snazzy infantry regiments in the French army:

250px-Zouave1888.jpg"The corps was first raised in Algeria in 1831 with one and later two battalions, and recruited solely from the Zouaoua, a tribe of Berbers. ... The Crimean War was the first service which the regiments saw outside Algeria. Their distinctive dress and dash made them well known outside France. After 1871 the Zouaves lost their status as an elite corps of long service volunteers and became mainly comprised of conscripts from the French settlers in Algeria and Tunisia doing their compulsory military service. ...

The four Zouave regiments of the French Army wore their traditional colorful dress during the early months of the First World War. The development of the machine gun, rapid fire artillery and improved small arms obliged them to adopt a plain khaki uniform from 1915 on. Between the wars the 'oriental dress' of red fez ('chechia'), braided blue jackets and voluminous red trousers was still seen as off-duty dress for re-enlisted NCOs and other long service regulars in the Zouave regiments."

You know, though, if I really want to look like a French soldier, I think I'll just stick with the current season's Napoleon-themed Dolce & Gabbana line. (Sorry, I just can't bring myself to make a cheese-eating- surrender-monkey joke.)

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