Interwar Officer’s Breeches

Tonight we are looking at a pair of British Army officer’s mounted pattern breeches from the interwar period. This pair of breeches are cut very full in the thigh, but extremely narrow in the calf to allow them to be worn with boots for use on horseback:

Officers were of course instructed to buy their uniforms privately from tailors and the uniforms they purchased often differed from official patterns; due to budget, regimental preference, the tailor’s own interpretation of the regulations or just the officer’s personal preference and provided they were not too outlandish a blind eye was usually turned to minor transgressions of the pattern. In this case, these breaches vary quite considerably from the official description which was set out in the 1931 clothing regulations:

Breeches, Mounted Pattern.- Field Marshals, General officers, brigadiers, substantive colonels, officers of mounted units and mounted officers of dismounted units- drab coloured Bedford cord of Cavalry twill of sealed pattern cut and shade, with drab coloured buckskin strappings; a small horn button about 2 1/2 inches from the bottom of each leg at the back for attachment to the legging or field boot. The breeches to reach about 6 inches below the knee, fairly loose over the hip and thigh with a good fullness in the top half over the knee. Fly front, two cross pockets; buckle and strap at the back.

Openings at the bottom of the legs about 5 inches long with eyelet holes for laces on either side or buttons and button holes. The top eyelet-holes or buttons and button holes to be about 1/2 inc apart. It is optional for button holes and buttons or eyelet holes and laces to be worn, but all officers of a unit for whom breeches are authorized must wear the same pattern and material.

The pair of breeches we are looking at tonight differ somewhat from this, but some features are consistent. The inside of the thighs is covered with buckskin to help prevent wear where they would rub in the saddle:

The bottom cuff of each leg is lacking the lacing or buttons described above and is merely a small turn up:

Two slash pockets are fitted, one on each hip:

The fly is secured with a row of small plastic buttons:

These indicate that the breeches were made by JW Ruddock and Sons of York:

These were a high class tailors that operated in the city from 1878 to 1947 and the quality of these breeches is absolutely superb and would have been an expensive purchase for an officer when new.

These breeches can be seen being worn by many officers throughout the interwar period and the early part of the Second World War. Here the King and a group of senior army officers can be seen wearing the breeches in the early years of World War II:

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