After all the talk about knickers in yesterday’s post and comments I thought I’d show a few photographic examples from the 1920s.
Knicker is short for knickerbocker, which is a word that became associated with New York after the publication of Washington Irving’s History of New York. An old-fashioned character in the book was named Knickerbocker, and the name became sort of a synonym for the old breeches-wearing Dutchmen of New York. At some point the knee breeches themselves became known as knickerbockers.
Women, and especially school girls, had been wearing bloomers for sports since the nineteenth century, but knickers are not the same as bloomers. Bloomers were very full and were usually contained at the below the knee hem by elastic. Knickers were much slimmer and were fastened at the knee by a button closure.
Knickers were commonly worn by boys before they graduated into long pants. By the early 1920s women were also wearing them for hiking and camping. I guess it makes sense that girls who were adopting the style of le Garçon, would literally take to wearing his pants.
In most of these photos you can see that young women often wore their knickers with knee socks. The socks had a decorative band at the top which was worn over the band of the knickers.
A middy was often worn over the knickers, sometimes along with a cardigan.
This woman looks to be a bit old to be wearing a middy, but when camping necessity must have put a lot of odd ensembles out there.
This looks to be a sweater with a middy collar.
A “mannish” shirt and tie were also worn with knickers.
This woman’s pants look more like riding breeches than true knickers due to the narrowness at the knees. But check out her boots!
This woman appears to be wearing shorts, but I thought her outfit was pretty interesting. It looks like writing on the shirt, and what an odd choice of shoes for a hike.
Everything you read about women wearing pants in the 1920s mentions that women wore them only in the most outdoorsy of occasions, but here is a photo showing a woman wearing them in front of the Capitol building in Augusta, Maine. What a fashion rebel!