They have all the markings of what the public loathe at the moment: the pillaging banker, the cosy hedge-funder or worse, the Chelsea Foxtons estate agent. It wasn't always this way; red trousers have an illustrious history. A jazzy alternative to buff in the 15th century, scarlet breeches were a male sign of taste and status, remaining thus right through to Dr Johnson's London demimonde in the 18th century. Johnson noted in his diaries the "fashion to wear scarlet breeches", as opposed to women wearing red, which up to the 20th century suggested prostitution. On the continent, red trousers were the mainstay of the Napoleonic army, distinguishing them in battle and worn right up until world war one. They were also favoured by the Austro-Hungarian army, so even though we are all friends now, perhaps the negative association runs deep in the British DNA.
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