Pants Types: Bloomer Knickers--Country Trends


Figure 1.--This French postcard was mailed in 1909. The boy wears a sailor blouse with bloomer knickers. He is playing with a diablo top. The pink color has been paibted on, I'm not sure if French boys actually wore pink sailor suits. We believe the bloomer knicjers had a bodice.

We have some limited information on country trends. They were very common in America. We also see them beung widely worn in Europe. Here the pattern varied chronolgically. American trens in the mid-19th century seem nasically a relection of European trends, By the late-19th century we see destinctive Anerican trends. We note many American boys wearing bloomer knickers with tunic suits at the turn of the 20th century. Tunic suits with bloomer knickers were one of the most popular styles for younger boys. Almost always American boys wore their tunic suits with bloomer knickers. They were not much worn otherwise. Ameican boys other tham these tunic suits were more likely to wear knee pants. We do see bloomer knickers being widely witn in Europe and not just with tunic suits. A French reader tells us that they were not very common in France, but we see quite a number of images of French boys wearing them. We also note them in Germany and other European countries. We see some British boys wearing them, but they seen more popular in France.

America

Bloomer knickers were very common in America. We also see them being widely worn in Europe. Here the pattern varied chronolgically. American trend in the mid-19th century seem basically a refection of European trends, We see younger boys wearing a variety of fancy suits with bloomer knickers. By the late-19th century we see destinctive Anerican trends. We note many American boys wearing bloomer knickers with tunic suits at the turn of the 20th century. Tunic suits with bloomer knickers were one of the most popular styles for younger boys. Almost always American boys wore their tunic suits with bloomer knickers. At the time that tunic suits becme popular at about the turn of the 20th century, most American boys wore knee pants, but by the 1910s, knickers were more common, especially for older boys. We are not sure to what extent bloomer knickers were worn other than with tunic suits. We see boys of all ages wearing knickers, but it is not always clear if they are bloomer knickers or regular knickers.

Austria

We see Austrian boys wearing bloomer knickers with a range of garments. They were worn with boyj blouses and tunuc suits. We also note boys at the tutn of the 20th century wearing them with suits. Our Autrian archive is limited so we have little information on the mid-19th century. But we notice boys wearinf suits with bloomer knickers in the late 19th century and early 20th century. This was different than in America where suits at the time were mostly worn with knee pants.

England

We see Moany English boys wearing bloomer knuckers as part of suits. They seem very common in the 19th century. A good example is unidentified English boys wearing cut-way jackes with bloomer knickers about 1870. They seem more popular in France by the early-20th century.

France

We see bloomer knickers being widely throughout Europe and not just with tunic suits. We note suits with bloomer knickers in the 19th century. We note them worn with blouses and tunic suits in the early 20th century. Bloomer knickers seem particularly popular in France. A French reader tells us that they were not very common in France, but we see quite a number of images of French boys wearing them. Many of the images we have found were depictions in post cards. This probanly reflects the large French post card industry and our limited French archive. The common appeaance in post cards suggests to us that these pants were seen as stylish. It probably does suggest that it was a style more popular with middle-class than wirjing-class people. We are not enirely sure about the chronolog, but they seem to have been popular from the mid-19th to the early 20th century. We rarely see them after World War I. We are not sure what they were called in the 19th century, but we see them referred to as " culotte bouffante " in early 20th century catalogs. We note them being worn with three-quarter socks in the early 20th century.

Germany

Bloomer knickers were similar to proper knickers, but were primarily for younger boys. We first notice them in the mid-19th century. They were worn as late as the early 20th century, mostly before world War I. They look like the leg hem was elasticized, but they were actually closed using a draw string. They were primarily worn as suits in the mid-19th century. We see them worn with blouses and tunics in the ealy 20th century. They were often made with lighter material than proper knickers, especially the bloomer knickers worn in the early 20th century. Outfits with bloomer knickers tended for some reason to be more common with middle- and upper-class families than working-class families. This can be seen because the boys depicted in early-20th century commnercial post cards often are shown waring bloomer knickers rather than knee pants. Boys wore bloomer knickers with both three-quarter socks and long stockings, but rarely knee socks. We are not entirely sure why that was.

Russia

We note Russian boys during the Tsarist era wearing bloomer knickers. Notice the Russian boy whom Tolstoy is conversing with in 1905 (figure 2). This boy wears bloomer knickers that are constructed with a tight elastic closure at the knee hem. I do not know what they were called in Russia. They would have been worn by city boys from Russia's relative small upper and middle class.






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Created: 6:53 PM 12/7/2006
Last edited: 10:00 PM 7/26/2017