By Julie Anderson

Knickers were girls’ and ladies’ pants that ended below the knee. They were cuffed and fuller in the thigh than, say, capris or clamdiggers. There were relatives of gauchos, another great eighties trend, but pretty distant cousins.

(And all you people from outside of the United States can just stop with the snickering. We know good and well what you mean when you say “knickers.” These are NOT panties we’re talking about here.)

I do remember a friend’s mom calling them “knickerbockers”, which is sort of accurate, although the knickers we wore in the early eighties were colorful and cute, and not especially utilitarian and tough. We loved them with argyle knee socks and penny loafers, and also with opaque tights and Candies or Capezio ballet flats. They were cute topped with ruffled, lacy prairie blouses or intarsia sweaters.

Here’s a little sweetheart in a great knickers outfit, complete with suspenders:

Knickers for kids (photo credit: Susan Astray)
Photo credit: Susan Astray

And here’s a grown-up version of the trend:

McCalls pattern for knickers (photo credit: Patternpalooza)
Photo credit: Patternpalooza

I had a lavender corduroy pair of knickers, similar to this berry pair, and OH how I loved them:

Berry colored corduroy knickers (photo credit: Black Rock Vintage)               Berry colored corduroy knickers (photo credit: Black Rock Vintage)               Berry colored corduroy knickers (photo credit: Black Rock Vintage)
Photo credit: Black Rock Vintage

Here’s a sweet and summery butter yellow pair, perfect for little girls:

Knickers for kids (photo credit: UdasKids)               Knickers for kids (photo credit: UdasKids)               Knickers for kids (photo credit: UdasKids)
Photo credit: UdasKids

Tailored and feminine, knickers are an awesome retro look. For your next 1980s themed costume party, snap up a pair from Etsy or Ebay and relive those fab early eighties years with your friends. And keep your eyes open – I predict that, like so many bitchin’ fashions from our childhoods, we’ll see knickers come back in style.

Author: Pia Sooney

Just a little obsessed with all things 80s, Pia still has her Swatch, her cassette tape collection, and her Converse Chucks. When not making friendship pins or listening to Depeche Mode, she runs a web design business.

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1 Comment

  1. Quite a bit like 18th century breeches. I remember that I had to leave the bottom unbuttoned because they were so tight they’d cut off circulation.

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