Knickers: New York’s Classic Style

Knickers (or knickerbockers, as they are also called) made their debut long ago, but have left a lasting impression on the world. This humble piece of clothing is a symbol of the early 1900’s; an era of industrial prosperity and great innovation. It was also a time of great immigration to America for many Europeans; and along with the immigrants in search of the American dream came this classic style of pants.


Knickers are a loose-fitting pair of trousers that are gathered by a buttoned, buckled, or even elastic band just under the knee. Generally made of woolen tweed, plaid, or solid colors; these pants were originally worn by Dutch immigrants for work, cycling, or other sporty endeavors where the excess fabric of longer pants might get in the way.


One might wonder how a pair of trousers ended up with such an unusual name. The reason is unusual in itself, as their name is the result of a famous novel written by Washington Irving, in which the clothing of Dutch settlers in New York is described. Irving uses the character, Diedrich Knickerbocker, to narrate the story, and from that time on, the Dutch (as well as their fashionable attire) were referred to as Knickerbockers; Knickers for short.


Knickers went from being worn by the commoners in the late 1800s all the way up to high society; in 1924, Prince Edward VII of Wales donned a pair of knickers and launched them into fashionable society.

Knickers have played a big role in sports as well. In fact, according to Global Golf, “The first organized baseball team ever to wear a uniform was the New York Knickerbockers in 1842.” Knickers continued to be worn in sports such as baseball and golf until fairly modern times. Modern uniforms are still reminiscent, although not so baggy.


Although knickers were most commonly worn by men in the old days, you can still find these stylish little trousers today for men and women; sometimes they even make an appearance on the runways. Try wearing a pair for a fashionable vintage feel, and watch the heads turn!