Friday, March 26, 2010

Apple #447: Jodhpurs

A jaguar wearing jodhpurs in the jungle may attack the jugular.

(Yet another entry brought to you by the letter J.)

  • Jodhpurs are a particular type of pants designed for riding horses.
  • The word is pronounced JOD-purz.  Basically, ignore the h.
  • The name comes from a city in India called Jodhpur.  British colonialists in India began calling the pants by the name of the place where pants of that style were often worn.
  • Back then, jodhpurs were made of thick, durable material which flared very wide at the hips and then tapered to a snug fit at the knees all the way down to the ankle.  The flared hips allowed for lots of freedom of movement while riding, and the snugness at the calves allowed the pants to fit easily into knee-high riding boots.

Jodhpurs worn by the British 23rd Calvary Polo Team in 1908.  No reinforced sections by the knees are visible, but the flared thighs and tapered knees definitely are.
(Photo from Wallflower Dispatches)

Edward VIII, who would become Duke of Windsor, wearing a Scotch Highlander uniform, which included jodhpurs, during a visit to Canada in 1936. He doesn't look very happy about it.
(Photo from Wallflower Dispatches)

By the 1920s a lot of women wore jodhpurs, too. This woman is wearing them at Tattersall's horse auction rooms in London.  Though judging by the hats, this might be more like the 1930s.
(Photo from Wallflower Dispatches)

Jodhpurs were also a hit among the fashionable and the movie stars.  Here, Gary Cooper is sporting a pair.
(Photo from Wallflower Dispatches)

Though jodhpurs were a hit with British aristocracy -- who could afford horses --and movie stars, regular people liked wearing them too.  These women in Washington, D.C. seem to be enjoying their jodhpurs, and there's nary a horse in sight.  This is from 1922.
(Photo from Wallflower Dispatches)

  • At some point in time -- I'm not sure if these elements came later or if they were part of the originals -- jodhpurs acquired other features as well. 
  • They got even thicker material across the seat, which would take a lot of wear during extensive riding, and at the knees, where a rider would grip the horse and saddle.
  • They were also usually sewn so that the seams were on the outside of the pants, rather than on the inside, and the seams were curved so as to miss points that would contact with the saddle.  This is so that during all the riding and jumping, the seams would not rub against the rider's skin.
  • Jodhpurs still appeal to a range of people -- those who want them for actual horse riding, and those who want them because they like them.
  • Now, though, lots of riding jodhpurs, particularly those that are made for women, are made to be snug the whole way up the leg.

Current women's  jodhpurs with that extra reinforcement across the seat. On the sites I saw, jodhpurs that included this extra material were usually referred to as "breeches."
(These breeches are available from Derby House for £50.)

On these jodhpurs, you can see the extra reinforcement at the knees.
(Available from Clarke McKenzie in New Zealand for NZD$115)

  • Pants worn by race jockeys today, though, still have that extra material at the thighs.  I had thought that their pants were skin-tight all the way up, but no, photo after photo of horse races proved me wrong.

As you can see in this remarkably clear photo of Calvin Borel riding 2009 Derby race-winner Mine That Bird, professional jockeys' pants are not skin-tight but are loose enough at the thighs, like traditional jodhpurs, to allow freedom of movement.
(AP Photo from

Not only do professional racing jockeys' jodhpurs still have the extra material at the thighs, they also have the reinforcement in the seat -- and their names embroidered on the waistband.
(Photo from Flickr, linked to without attribution by

  • Jodhpurs worn for purposes of fashion tend to be less snug than women's riding breeches and they usually have that extra flare along the hips.

One of the pairs of jodhpurs featured in Balenciaga's Fall 2007 collection.
(Photo from Fabsugar)

These are called tuxedo jodhpurs and they're made by fashion designer Robert Rodriguez.
(Photo from Blogue US)

  • Some people, though, aren't in love with the return of jodhpurs on the fashion scene.  They call them modified Hammers.

Can't touch these jodhpurs?
(Photo from Westsidewill)

  • Of course I couldn't talk about jodhpurs without mentioning this famous photo of the original Charlie's Angels:

Nearly every show included a note in the credits that the angels' clothes were provided by Givenchy Sport.  So I'm guessing that's who made Kate Jackson's jodhpurs.
(Photo from Pretty Boring)

What's your vote?  Jodhpurs, thumbs up or down?

Wise Geek, What are Jodhpurs?
Online Etymology Dictionary, jodhpurs
Fabsugar, Definition: jodhpurs


  1. Jay (which also starts with the letter "J") made a pair of jodhpurs last week on Project Runway, and Nina Garcia said something like, "What woman wants to make her thighs look bigger?" And now I know. Kate Jackson, that's who.

  2. Hmmm...not sure if I like the look or not. Some styles are better than others, but some of the older ones could really hide a hip problem. :o)

  3. Some really great pictures there, what a great post.


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