Jodhpurs are tight-fitting trousers that reach to the ankle, where they end in a snug cuff, and are worn primarily for horseback riding. The term can also refer to a type of short riding boot, also called a paddock boot or a jodhpur boot.
Originally, jodhpurs (as worn in and around the city in India after which they are named) were tight-fitting only from the knee to the ankle and were flared above the knee; modern stretch-fabrics have allowed jodhpurs to be supportive and flexible.
Special adaptations for riding include a pattern cut with the leg seams on the outside of the leg; a patch on the inside of the knee, sometimes of a hard-wearing material such as leather; and in some cases an additional harder-wearing "sticky" panel on the seat, also of leather or a synthetic with similar properties. Traditionally, classic jodhpurs are white or cream, but now come in a variety of colours.
The word "jodhpurs" is often used interchangeably with riding breeches, although breeches more strictly are riding trousers that come down to just below the knee. Jodhpurs, along with riding breeches, may be worn with knee-high riding boots, but jodhpurs are more commonly worn with short jodhpur or "paddock" boots, sometimes with knee-length half-chaps or leggings.
Jodhpurs are increasingly worn as fashion clothing, and not only for riding.
The style was imported from India during the British occupation in the latter half of the 19th century and became popular for military uniforms, initially with cavalry and only in Britain, but eventually for all the armies of the world and later the air forces too. In popular culture they were particularly associated with aviators, hunters and movie directors. In the early 20th C until the 40’s Jodhpurs were common work trousers for farm labourers in many parts of the world, including Western and Eastern Europe, America, and Australia; it could be said that they fulfilled a role similar to denim jeans. During World War 2 they lost favour as a uniform style, but were famously retained by the German officers and such notable figures and General Patton.
After World War 2 they only remained as riding trousers in the West, but were also used for motorcycle police uniforms. In Eastern Europe they were still used as work trousers, as well as in the uniforms of many Soviet Bloc countries, including the USSR and East Germany
Kentucky Jodhpurs are full-length riding pants used exclusively in Saddle seat riding. Like Hunt Seat jodhpurs, they are close-fitting from waist to ankle, but differ in that they are much longer, ending with a flared bell bottom that fits over the jodhpur boot, usually extending longer than the heel of the boot in back, and covering the arch of the foot (but not the toe) in front. The overall look gives the impression of a rider with a long leg, a desired equitation standard. Like the hunt seat jodhpur, they have elastic straps that run under the boot to help hold the pant leg in place. Saddle seat riders, whose riding clothing styles derived from men's business suits, wear Kentucky Jodhpurs in dark colors, usually black, navy blue, or a shade that matches the riding coat.
Travels with My Aunt - Graham Greene - PG.12 - "Through the windows I could see men with exaggerated moustaches in tweed coats, which were split horsily behind, gathered round a girl in jodhpurs."