What is meant when describing garb as "Plus fours"?

In a recent re-read of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", I was struck by the fact that, at the age of fifty, I still haven’t learned this.

In one of the early chapters, a lot of wizarding-types are running around trying to look like Muggles (non-magical civilians, for the uninitiated). One character is mentioned as wearing “plus-fours.”

So, could an English-heritaged Doper be kind enough to tell me how I should picture this fellow in my mind’s eye? Is it a kind of boot that’s deliberately four sizes too big for the wearer? Is it a firefighter’s outfit of fire-retardent baggy pants, held up by suspenders, and topped with an over-sized coat?

What are “plus-fours”?


Probably the most common example is golf wear: http://www.goodnewssports.com/info/news/pics/payne_stewart200.jpg

Wikipedia link.

Pants cut four inches below the knee: knee, “plus four”.

The only time I’ve ever seen this in “print” is in the “Our Gang” short “Election Day” (1929). Farina says something to his little sister about putting on her “Plus fours.”

Ah. Thank you all very kindly.

I thought Farina was supposed to be a guy. And it appears that imdb agrees with me.

I’m wearing these right now, except I call them man-capris.

Plus-fours are bloused over elastic or drawstring. Some hip-hop style shorts hang down to the right length, but they aren’t bloused, so they aren’t plus-fours. So, Big Boi isn’t copying Tintin, he’s got his own thang.

I’m not disagreeing with chaoticbear, I’m just clarifying a detail.

Yes, there also exists “plus twos” and maybe any other value.

Damn. Learn something new every day. I was recently speaking with my grandmother, who is French, and the phrase “plus fours” made me think maybe it meant the clothes were really hot. You know, because in French it would translate into “more ovens”. Heh. :smack:

These are definitely man-capris, not anything hip-hop related. They’re like pants, but not.

Heavy metal guitarists favour “plus ones”.

Well, further research indicates that “plus fours” is actually a corruption of the French plus force, or “much stronger”. It derives from gold miners in 19th Century Alaska, many of whom were of French-Canadian origin. Finding his existing pants not up to the rigours of his work, one miner asked a seamstress to make him “culottes plus force”: owing to the language confusion, she made him a long pair of shorts instead. These, of course, proved impractical for mining, but the pants caught the eye of a young Theodore Roosevelt, then visiting the territory, who brought these “plus fours” back with him and popularised them in New York society: hence, of course, the term “knickerbockers” which is sometimes also applied to them.

When I see the term “plus fours” I think of the kind of gaudy golf-knickers Bertie Wooster would insist on wearing, against the advice of Jeeves.

Do you have a citation for this, or are you just making a joke here?

Why, certainly.

Sory, but I can’t find any mention of Plus fours in the whole of that Theodore Rooservelt section.

The pants Auric Goldfinger is wearing at the Golf Club in the movie Goldfinger are “Plus Fours”, if you’re looking for a pop-culture usage of them…

So short-shorts are minus-fifteens?

I do believe that is a joke, sir. :slight_smile: