What Are Bloomers?

You have probably heard of bloomers. In fact, most people today will have at least heard of bloomers at least once. However, a majority of us don’t actually know exactly what they are. 

What Are Bloomers?

The word ‘bloomers’ tends to conjure up ideas of cotton white baggie undergarments, which is not necessarily too far off of what they actually are. 

Let’s take the time to have a proper look into what Bloomers actually are. 

The Basics Of Bloomers

Basically, bloomers of a knee-length or ankle length pant which was invented from the inspiration of harem pants in the Middle East.

However, they were also inspired by the female undergarments which were typically called pantalettes, draws, or pants. 

Pantalettes were typically worn beneath petticoats by young girls and women in the 1800s.

Pantalettes are also often referred to as bloomers in modern day as well, however this is a term which is used in reference to them long after they were invented. 

You can also consider distinguishing pantalettes and bloomers in their early use thanks to the legs being tapers. You see, bloomers will have a tapered leg, but pantalettes have a much wider leg construction. 

A Bit Of Bloomer History 

The true bloomers came into being thanks to Elizabeth Smith Miller in the middle of the 19th Century. Later an American women’s rights activist made them popular, her name was Amelia Miller. 

Bloomers were made as an attempt to give women a decent option for pants, allowing them to better participate in rigorous activities where skirts were just not comfortable for reasonable prices.

Sadly, the Victorian era was not so much of a fan of this style, and those who wore these pants became named ‘bloomers’ after the fashion choices of Amelia.

This nickname stuck, the only difference being that now we refer to the pants as bloomers and not the wearers.

While bloomers were not exactly well received as a choice in fashion, they were still a very practical piece of clothing.

As the late 19th century came around, women who joined athletic teams would typically wear a pair of knee length bloomers with some black stockings. 

It is even possible that they may make up a part of women’s swimming costumes. Wearing them for particular sports, knickers or bloomers were often seen as acceptable. However, they were also significantly more comfortable for things such as riding bicycles.

Bloomers In Recent Fashion Trends

Bloomers In Recent Fashion Trends

In the early 20th century, a fashion designer by the name of Paul Poiret attempted to bring bloomers back into fashion.

However, the style did not quite catch on in terms of daily wear, however when it hit the 1920s, women did begin wearing pants more regularly. 

Long shorts and pants with some regularity started to make their way back into women’s fashion. They also made their way into becoming an undergarment for skirts, often even worn underneath pants. 

As well as this school girls who took part in school athletic programs would often also wear bloomers which would buckle under their knees, and this tradition would continue into the later 40s and 50s, especially in schools wherein most shorts were shorts would be seen as not being decent. 

Skirts were getting shorter around this time, long pantalette bloomers that were popular in the 1800s lost a fair amount of their popularity. Even shorter pantalettes would then be worn beneath shirts and pants. 

You may still be able to find some silk pantalettes, nylon pantalettes and such in lingerie sections of stores to this day. 

Another difference between pantalettes and bloomers were the materials of which they were made from. Original pantalettes would usually be made from cotton or linen, whereas bloomers were usually made with a wool or a silk-wool type blend.

Detailing About Bloomers & Their Past

There are plenty of texts and research papers that look into the fashionable history of Bloomers. 

Some have noted that bloomers were a big part of the outfit that suffragists would see as being preferable to the traditional fashion get-ups they would see.

The ‘Bloomer costume’ would often see women wearing a full-skirt, short dress on top of full trousers. 

You could define the ‘Bloomer costume’ as also being a knee-long dress which was worn over pants that gathered at the ankles.

It is theorized that this costume was somewhat modeled after the attire worn in health sanitariums, and it was later found to be most popular among women’s rights advocates back in the 1850s. 

While Amerlia Bloomer did not actually originalism the style, she was a lecturer and righter on women’s rights, and she wrote significantly in praise of this outfit in her lectures, so, it ended up adopting her name. 

Although it did become an acceptable and popular form of female dress, which was adopted for athletic activities and exercise, it was not actually adopted very widely.

Ever since this time, pants which gather at the hem are referred to as bloomers, even if they are not typically the specific bloomers we think of these days.

Since the 1800s, ‘Bloomers’ is simply a word that is used to describe any full, loose, trouser-like item of clothing that gathers up at any point from between the knees and at the ankles, and can be or is often worn underneath long skirts or dresses.


Bloomers is more of a general term than a specific item of clothing. If you went into a pants store and asked for bloomers, you could be presented with a multitude of different types.

This is because the term ‘bloomers’ just describes any trouser-like garment which gathers between the knees and ankles, fitting loosely and is full. 

This is actually an item from fashion which has been around for hundreds of years, and has remained as a niche fashion sense since then.

While they may not have always been on the catwalk, they have been useful and functional for a long time. 

Willa Price

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