Woolen knickers with a button fly … now when were they in style? I’m guessing they were worn around the early 1900s by young boys. Knickers were worn by vintage golfers, but did you ever see them worn by a downhill skier in the 1960s and 1970s? If you didn’t, then you never saw me skiing.

It was the December 1966 break during my senior year in college. I was shopping in the downtown area of my hometown, Newark, Ohio. Across the street that forms a ring around the town square were stores.  The large granite Licking County courthouse in the square was lit up with seasonal lights. The bell of the Salvation Army Santa could be heard above the Christmas music coming from speakers. The day was cold and damp. A Hallmark movie setting.

Looking for Dad’s present, I entered the men’s store on the west side of the square. A tie? Handkerchiefs with an initial on them that he could put in his back pants pocket? I wandered the store scanning the merchandise. In the back, I came upon stacks of woolen knickers. Someone must have discovered them in a back storage room. From their size, I figured they were for children. Not exactly a gift for my dad, but what a find for me, as I was about 5 feet tall, weighing in at 100 pounds.

Note: I am not one who usually dresses in current trends. Part of this may be attributed to wearing clothes made by my mom through high school, then going off to college with clothes I had sewn for myself. I don’t think I would have followed this fashion path, but it was the choice presented. Making the most of it, I embraced my wardrobe, wearing it as a cloak of individuality – though longing at times to have the Villager outfits worn by many of my peers.

You may wonder what in the world I saw in these knickers, other than their historical significance.

After Christmas the University of Michigan Ski Club was going to Colorado, and I was going, too. I had been on bunny slopes two or three times, so I was no accomplished skier. It was my belief that I would not be noticed if I didn’t dress in stylish ski gear, so something else would be my choice. I now realize, many years later, an odd outfit would probably cause me to be noticed.

I was excited to find these woolen knickers, buying several pairs in different patterns at a very good price.  Worn with long underwear, the wool provided protection from the cold; Scotchgarding helped prevent the absorption of moisture. I put on my one pair of stylish ski pants for après-ski activities.

Even after becoming a decent downhill skier, I always wore my woolen knickers – in Colorado, Switzerland, Italy, Wyoming  – wherever I strapped on my skis. I have my own style.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: