Created on 28 April 2014
Idiom
Wear the trousers
Meaning
To be the person in a relationship who is in control and makes all the important decisions.
OriginWear the trousers
This idiom originated in the 19th century. At that time, women always wore skirts or dresses (only men wore trousers). Women were considered less important than men so the husband was usually the dominant person in the relationship/family. Sometimes, however, the roles were reversed and the woman was the dominant one in the relationship. Although women weren’t allowed to actually wear trousers, the phrase ‘wear the trousers’ started being used to describe women who were in charge in a relationship.
Context
“Even though Paul seems bossy, we all know it’s Jane who really wears the trousers in that relationship!”

Jenny: “I can’t believe how much Tom has changed since he got married. He used to be such a happy guy.”
Brian: “I know, but Julie makes him stay at home every day, cleaning and cooking. Poor guy.”
Jenny: “Yeah, it’s clear who wears the trousers in their relationship!”

Chris: “Hi mate. Fancy coming out for a few drinks after work today?”
Peter: “Oh, I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask Sophie.”
Chris: “I know Sophie wears the trousers but can’t you make your own decision for once?!”
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