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Fall Wardrobe: On the Hunt for Breeks
Breeks, also known as breeches or knickers, presently appear to be worn exclusively for shooting. Primarily manufactured by British companies and traditionally made from tweed, breeks are cropped at the knee and fastened with button, buckle, elastic, or velcro. Seeing as I neither hunt nor live in England, you may be asking what drew me to these out-of-fashion trousers. I was browsing the LIFE photo archive recently when I came upon this photo of American college girls in the 1960s:
Young college girls wearing wool knickers and bulky knit sweaters. Photograhed by Yale Joel in August 1962.
I don’t know about you, but hanging out in a tree while wearing sweaters, knickers, knee-high socks, and keds sounds like a pretty decent time to me. I initially found it strange that the photos were taken in August but I guess global warming really does exist?
Once the inspiration had been found I started researching what style exactly these pants are. I started at knickerbockers and plus twos/fours, which are more common in the U.S. and typically worn by old men on the golf range, but they weren’t exactly what I wanted.
Purdey tweed breeks from the London Trading Co.
Once I get my mind around something it can be hard for me to give up the search. I soon realized I wanted breeks for their shorter length and trimmer fit. Sadly, after many hours of looking, the only readily available version of women’s breeks I could find are three styles of knickers made by Rugby Ralph Lauren, with the Windowpane Knicker being my top pick ($168). I much prefer the shorter, British made breek styles but I could only find one American store that sells them online: Atlanta, GA based London Trading Company (pairs start around $200). I’m keeping an eye on eBay and etsy but the pickings are slim. Some of the top brands to look out for are Purdey, Barbour, Laksen, Musto, and Holland & Holland. If I end up finding the right pair it’ll be the first step in reclaiming this look from British hunts and the Rugby Tweed Run.
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