Hot pants are actually not pants, but are shorts. They are, in fact, characterized by being short — about as short as possible — and are sometimes known as short shorts. Hot pants are thought to have been inspired by the miniskirt. Having two separate holes for the legs, they could achieve even shorter lengths than the miniskirt, while still staying in place.
These shorts first became a popular fashion during the 1970s and were often worn to disco clubs during these years. They are considered a disco fashion, but hot pants were not only worn while grooving under the mirrored disco ball — they were also a popular fashion item for everyday street clothes.
During the heyday of hot pants, their place in the office held mixed reviews. For example, while many companies forbade their employees to wear the shorts to work, others embraced the fashion. Southwest Airlines, for example, proudly incorporated them into the company uniform. 1970s television commercials and print ads for the airlines show stewardesses wearing short shorts, along with tall, heeled boots, which were a popular accompaniment.
Hot pants were sometimes worn very tight to the hips, waist and bottom. It was common to see these super-tight shorts on pin-up posters, often worn with a short top that showed the midriff. Hot pants were often worn with stockings or tights underneath, but many ladies were brave enough to wear the leg revealing shorts alone.
Another common way to wear them was with a long top that came down and covered the hips. These tops were so long, and hot pants were so short, that the shorts might be almost completely hidden by the top. Tops could also be tucked into them, a slightly more body revealing style. Whether the top worn was tucked in or worn over the shorts, it was very common to wear a low-slung, wide belt and tall boots that reached almost to the knee.