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Oxford bags were a loose-fitting baggy form of trousers favoured by members of the University of Oxford, especially undergraduates, in England during the early 20th century from the 1920s to around the 1950s. The style had a more general influence outside the University, including in America, but has been somewhat out of fashion since then.
The style supposedly originated from a ban in 1924 on the wearing of knickers by Oxford (and Cambridge) undergraduates at lectures. The bagginess allowed knickers to be hidden underneath easily. The style was commonly thought to have been invented by Harold Acton of Christ Church. However, there are earlier examples of the trousers that pre-date this incident.
The style made a comeback in 1970s Britain, among fans of Northern soul, a popular 1970s music movement. The style was worn as a practical measure to enable fans to make the energetic and elaborate dance moves associated with the Northern soul scene.
The original trousers were 22–23 inches (56–58 cm) in circumference at the bottoms but became increasingly larger to 44 inches (110 cm) or more, possibly due to misunderstanding of the measurement as the width rather than circumference.
- Longden, Sean. "Oxford Bags - the most important trousers of the 20th century" (PDF). Resign! The Newsletter of the New Sheridan Club. p. 4–9.
- McBain, Sophie, The Importance of being Eccentric, The Oxford Student.
- Nolan, Carol, Men's Fashion History, Southern Californian Lindy Society.
- Martin, Richard, Oxford Bags, St James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture.
- Oxford Bags at the Internet Movie Database (1926 film).
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