In the Equestrian world, Riding Breeches and Jodhpurs are technically two different garments. In the Fashion world, not so much. As this blog is purely a fashion thing, I am talking about the fashion version of the pant and as such will treat Riding Breeches and Jodhpurs as the same thing.
How to say it: Riding breeches sounds like it looks; Jodhpurs = jod-purs
- most common style is tight-fitted through the leg
- usually made in stretch fabric
- often ankle length, but can be shorter
- can be flared through the hip and thighs
- contrast panel on the inside of the lower leg to mimic padding
…of the style: In the 1800s Sir Pratap Singh, Maharaja of Idar, the Regent of Jodhpur, and avid polo player in India, did not like wearing the common style of breeches while playing polo and set about designing a new style that he felt was more suited to the game. (I am not entirely sure what the ‘common style of breeches’ looked like at the time, but they were most likely calf length with lacing around the bottom and worn with long boots). He based his design on the churidar, which were long Indian trousers with a loose fit around the hip and thighs before narrowing around the calf and ankle. Singh took this shape and refined it by adding more flare through the hips and thigh area to provide the wearer with ease of movement while riding (this is before stretch fabrics existed). He kept the length to the ankle as this required the rider to only wear ankle length boots, and reinforced the areas along the calf and knee to prevent chaffing. The first pair of Jodhpurs were made from a thick cotton twill in 1890 and were quickly adopted by all the Indian Polo teams.
In 1897, Singh travelled to England with his polo team to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee with Queen Victoria. This was the first time Jodhpurs were seen by English riders who quickly spotted the advantages of the new style and started wearing them. During the early 20th century various armies adopted the Jodhpur, as did Hollywood directors, aviators and sportsmen.
In 1920, women started riding horses astride and they too adopted the Jodhpur for their new riding style. Apparently Coco Chanel was the first famous woman to wear them, followed by Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson. Young women began wearing Jodhpurs for sport and as a fashion garment, no doubt inspired by these famous ladies, and the popularity of the style continued right through the second World War where they were part of the uniform for the Women’s Land Army.
With the invention of stretch fabrics in the late 1960s, riding breeches/Jodhpurs became more streamlined as the flare was no longer needed for movement. In the modern fashion marketplace the term Riding Breeches is rarely used anymore (although it is still used in Equestrian circles) and the term Jodhpurs has come to mean a tight-fitting, stretch pant with contrast fabric panelling down the inside of the knee and calf to mimic the padding on the original riding pants. Totally inappropriate for riding a horse, but retaining enough of the equestrian heritage of the style to give off a sense of high-class wealth often linked with the game of Polo.
…of the name: These pants were designed to be worn riding, hence the term Riding Breeches.
The term Jodhpurs apparently came about when Sir Pratap Singh visited a Saville Row tailor while in England for a new pair of his unique style of riding breeches. When the tailor asked what he called them, Singh misunderstood the question and replied ‘Jodhpur’. The name stuck.
21st Century Riding Breeches/jodhpurs
While Jodhpurs are available from a few designers all the time (e.g. Ralph Lauren) they aren’t what you would call a runway regular. In 2013 and 2014 Fall collections Jodhpurs are few and far between for women but there does seem to have been a resurgence of the men’s Jodhpur on the catwalk.
Day Birger et Mikkelsen, Rag & Bone
STATEof_, Ralph Lauren