Tap pants are women's garment resembling shorts, only with slits which run up the leg instead of solid legs.
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The name comes from the adoption of tap pants by tap dancers, who usually wore them to practices. The slit leg design allowed the dancers to move freely while they worked out and explored new routines. Runners and other athletes picked up the design as well. In addition to providing freedom of movement combined with coverage of the pelvic area, tap pants also provide more ventilation than typical shorts do, since they are open along the side.
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When marketed for athletic wear, tap pants are often called side cut shorts. They are usually made from cotton and similar breathable fibers, and are designed to be washed in machine for ease of care. Athletes can wear tap pants alone, or wear underwear underneath, depending on design and personal taste. The tap pants are also designed to be stretchy, further enhancing mobility in them, and they can be worn with variety of upper garments.
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They can also be worn as undergarments, usually with full skirts and dresses. The slimmer lines of most 20th century fashion led to decline in the use of tap pants as undergarments, and an increasing use of tap pants as lingerie items designed for use in the bedroom. As undergarments, however, tap pants are very loose and comfortable, for women who wear styles which can accommodate them. As lingerie, tap pants are made from variety of textiles, but tend to be silky and revealing.
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Some women use tap pants as leisurewear, pulling pair on over swimsuit, for example, to provide modesty when out of the pool. They are also comfortable for lounging around the house, although some fashion forward women have been known to wear tap pants in more formal environments. Such wear usually requires excellent physical condition, since most of the leg is on display.