A Brief History of Jodhpurs — The World’s Favorite Riding Pants

If you’ve ever ridden a horse, or follow any equestrian sports, you’ve most likely come across the word Jodhpurs.

But ever wondered where the word comes from, and what makes Jodhpurs so special to horse riding?

What Are Jodhpurs?

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Jodhpurs are a type of riding trousers that typically flared around the thigh, before narrowing down into a snug fit to fit into a riding boot. This design allowed a freer movement around the hips and thighs for the rider to mount or dismount the horse with ease, while allowing for an extra layer of protection from the calf to the ankle due to the snug fit. 

Modern Jodhpurs however, can often come with a straight-down snug fit from hip to the ankle without the flare around the thighs and the hips associated with the traditional version.

They are typically made from sturdy fabrics like wool or cotton and may feature reinforced knee patches for durability. The snug fit of the trousers helps to prevent them from getting caught in stirrups while riding.

Jodhpurs are still popular riding attire today, both for equestrian sports and for leisure riding. They are also sometimes worn as a fashion statement, particularly in the form of slim-fitting pants with knee patches or flared cuffs.

What Is the Word Jodhpurs?

The word Jodhpurs comes from the city of Jodhpur in India, which was once the capital of the princely state of Marwar in Rajasthan. Located in the Thar desert, Jodhpur is famous for its sprawling 13th century fort, and its associated with valiant warriors and their imposing horses that they often rode to battle. Since horses and horseback riding were so intrinsic to Jodhpur’s culture, it was natural that its inhabitants developed their own style of riding breeches that made riding and fighting on horseback more convenient.

During the colonial era, British officers stationed in India took note of the practical design of Jodhpurs and began to adopt them for their own use. The trousers were well-suited to horse riding and other outdoor activities, and the British officers found them to be more comfortable and practical than the traditional riding attire worn in England at the time.

As the popularity of equestrian sports grew, Jodhpurs became more widely adopted as riding attire, both in India and abroad. The design of the trousers evolved over time to incorporate new materials and features, such as stretch fabrics and reinforced seams.

How Did Jodhpurs Became a Fashion Statement the World Over?

Jodhpurs became popular in the West thanks to Maharaja Pratap Singh of Jodhpur, an avid horse rider and polo player.

When he visited Queen Victoria in England in 1897, he took his entire polo team with him. The sight of the handsome Maharaja as his valiant polo players attired in these new-styled riding pants caught the attention of the English press and fashion circles, and the Jodhpur pants soon became a craze all over Europe and America.

So, while Jodhpurs were already in use in India before the Maharaja of Jodhpur popularized them, his influence on British and Western fashion helped to bring them to a wider audience and establish them as a key part of equestrian attire.

Today, Jodhpurs are a popular choice for riding attire all over the world, both for their practicality and for their distinctive style. While they may have originated in India, their popularity has spread globally, and they are now an iconic part of equestrian fashion.

Famous People Who Wore Jodhpurs

Jodhpurs are no longer the preserve of the riding field. They have long been worn as a standalone fashion statement. For instance, here’s a picture of the legendary American Cecil B. DeMille looking absolutely dapper in a pair of classic flared-hip Jodhpurs from back in 1937.

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