Boys fashions at the beginning of the decade were little changed from the turn of the century. Formal dress was still common, although the fresh air and sunshine movement as well as the Boy Scours had some impact. We see some less formal styles for children, especially boys, but adults still tended to dress very formally. Boys commonly wore knee pants, although in America, knickers suddenly became sandard for boys. World War I proved to be a major dividing point not only in world history, but fashion as well. It is unclear just how the War had this impact, but it is not hard to envision. Women working in defense plants dressed practilly amnd this experience must hve affected future fashion choices. And the idea of fancy dress for little boys not only seemed absurd after the war, but many women did not want to devote their time to such absurdities. Many major changes occurred during the War and affected life style and fashion after the War. It certainly had the impact of destroying all the old certanties of pre-War Europe. And during the war, industry including the clothing industry was directed toward the War effort rather han fashion. The impact was to permnntly alter fashion trends. The 1910s were a major dividing point between the formal styles of the late 19th century and the more clearly recognizable as modern styles of the 1920s. Certainly World War I (1914-18) must have been the major factor forging the new fashions. Similar significant changes ocurred after World War II. W are not entirely sure about the sociological forces at play. Perhaps it was the loss of innocence brought about by the War. Perhaps it no longer made sence dressing children in the innocent, child-like fashions commonly worn before the War. As a result, by the 1920s boys were dressing very differently than at the turn of the century.
Major changes in fashion and garments occurred during the 1910s. The decade began with a great deal of formality in dress, even for children, although thst hd begun to change. Many of the boy's styles from the 19th century had largely disappeared like Fauntleroy suits and kilts suits. These chnges occurred before comparable changes ocuurrred in adult fashions. Comfortable casual styles for boys became increasingly popular. he sailor suit fashion continued popular in the 1910s. Maby styles at the beginning of the decade were little changed than at the turn of the century, except that shorts and knickers largely replaced knee pants. By the end of the decade sailor suits were being worn by increasingly younger boys in Britain and America, although older boys continued to wear them in Germany and other European countries. Most American boys wore knickers, often including high school age boys. The real changes occurred in the second half of the decade as Europe and America was rocked by horrendous tragedy of World War I (1914-18). It is unclear just how the War had this impact, but it is not hard to envision. Women working in defense plants dressed practilly amnd this experience must hve affected future fashion choices. And the idea of fancy dress for little boys not only seemed absurd after the war, but many women did not want to devote their time to such absurdities. Many major changes occurred during the War and affected life style and fashion after the War. It certainly had the impact of destroying all the old certanties of pre-War Europe. And during the war, industry including the clothing industry was directed toward the War effort rather han fashion. The impact was to permnntly alter fashion trends. The 1910s were a major dividing point between the formal styles of the late 19th century and the more clearly recognizable as modern styles of the 1920s. Certainly World War I (1914-18) must have been the major factor forging the new fashions.
Natural fibers (linen, cotton, wool, and silk) used, with rayon (artificial silk) a new invention in 1910. Rayon invented in 1910 as the first artificial fiber. It was introduced to common fashion in the late teens, but used by Chanel as early as 1915. Medium to heavyweight fabrics like serge and gabardine seen for everyday wear. Jersey and denim?? were popular fabrics for pay clothes.
Although bow, lace, and ruffles were commonly used for boys clothes in the late 19th century, many boys did not wear these styles. There were always some who quetioined this fashion. These voices by the 1910s, especilly after World War I, were becoming the dominate voice. One such voice was De Pinna Company. The 1917 De Pinna Co. catalog wa issued in hard over. De Pinna was an important New York retailer. It was located on 5th
Avenue with other exclusive retailers and was the New York branch of an English boys clothing store that was founded in London, 1880, so I presume that the text was written by them.) The catalog advises, "The manly appearance of an English lad is always noticeable. Over there, the dressing of boys and young men has been standardized for years. There is lacking in their dress that suggestion of feminine intervention which has crept at times into the dress of American boys. There is no reason why any good healthy American boy should be decked in ribbons, frills, and laces. There is every reason why he should
wear--according to his station in life--clothing and accessories that closely resemble those of men ..." The text runs on another few pages to tout the importance of "manly" attire... It is interesting that this word is no longer used in children's fashion ads It
certainly was used a lot around the early 1900s! One wonders why the term fell out of favor. Sometimes the changing rhetoric of fashion is just as mysterious as fashion trends themselves. Also note the phrase "good, healthy". There is a psychological
implication here. Did men innately regard a boy who is ill or a invalid as more the property of his mother than a "good, healthy" boy? One factor that needs to be considered is that De Pinna was a menswear retailer. Boys were likly to be brought there by their fathers and thus frilly clothes would not normally offered there. Fancier outfits were more likely to be found at dress shops which commonly offered clothes for young boys nad department stores. In both these, it would be more likely that boy would be likely to be bought by their mothers.
We have begun to collect some infoemation about hair styles for boys in the 1910s. The elaborte long hair styles, both ringlet curls and straight hair continued to declinein popularity, but had not yet disappeared. Those boys still wearing curls were more likely to have shorter curls. Also it became increasingly rare to find school age boys in curls. One veru popular style for boys were bangs. This was the case in many countries. Mostr school age boys wore short haor cut around the ears. This was worn both with bangs and with side parts. Mosy but not all boys had left parts.
We have begun to collect some unformation on boys' clothing trends in other countries during the 1910s. Most of this information concerns America and European countries at this time. There were still destinct national differences in the 1910s, but a variety of common styles like sailor suits. Wold war I began in 1914 and impacts from the War can be seen in combatant countries. Some of the major trends in individual countries were as follows.
Little American boys still wore dresses. The age for outfitting boys in dresses began to decline and it was now rare to see a boy much above 5 years old still in a dress. The styles for these dresses also became much less fancy than a decade earlier. This was the last decade in which boys were commonly outfitted in dresses. These changes were particularly notable after the end of the World War in 1918. Sailor suits remained a popular style for boys at the beginning of the decade, but had declined in popularity by the end of the decade. Sailor suits with short pants or knickers were popular for little boys. The sailor suit was rarely worn with long pants, as older boys no longer wanted to wear them by the end of the decade. Boys still wore kilt suits at the beginning of the decade, but this style had virtually disappeared by the end of the decade. Boys wore modern looking suits toward the end of the decade. Younger boys wore short pants, usually with long stockings as keen socks were not considered dressy enough for formal occasions. Older boys wore knicker suits. The Norfolk jackets were very popular.
Shorts pants, or trousers as the British refer to them, became increasingly common for boys. Older boys wore knickers, often with Eton collars. Younger boys were still often kept in dresses. Kilts, Fauntleroy suits, and sailor suits were popular styles at the beginning of the decade, but by the end of the decade these styles had become less common and boys were more likely to be dressed in short pants and a suit jacket or blazer. Eton collars were still considered necessary for formal occasions.
I have little specific information on French clothing during this period. We do know that as in Britain and America the practice of dressing smakk boys in dresses declined, especially after the War. French mothers, however, turned to smocks to a much greater extent than in Britain or America. Smocks and smock-like garments were very popular in France. Schoolboys wore smocks to school. Sailor suits were popular, but not as popular as in Germany. Short pants were growing in popularity, but still were rather longish. This was to change during the 1920s. French mothers also liked the look of white kneesocks on
boys as well as girls. White kneesocks in America and Britain were
usually worn by girls or very small boys. White kneesocks also became
popular in Germany, but not nearly as popular as in France. Hopefully
some of our readers can provide more detailed insights.
HBC has only limited information or photographs that can be specifically attributed to the 1910s. Some of the avaialble school photographs, however, do provide some information that is either dated or for which HBC has estimated the dates. Because German schools did not normally require school uniforms, the
clothes boys wore to school provide a good cross section of boys wear during this period. We hope to pursue chronological information on clothing in greater detail. Until we are able to do this, available information from school photographs is instructive. We note considerable variation from school to school. This may
reflect regional and demographic variables. Some boys wear sailor suits, but they are not as popular as they were in the 1900s. Many boys have suit coats with Norfolk styling.
I have no specific information on Italian clothing during this period, but hope that some of our readers can provide interesting insights.
We are compiling some information about individuals in the 1910s. In some cases we have some information about their lives. In other cases we have just the name or an especially interesting photograph.
1911: Raymond Bykes: America--messenger boy
1916: Harold Walker: America--agricultural laborer
While HBC focuses on boys clothing, we have collectd considerable information on girls' clothinng as well. Here you can view some of the clothes worn by girls during the 1900s. There are large numbers of images of girls outfits, almost all
dressess, archieved on HBC, both in America and Europe.
White dresses were popular. Often girls wore their dresses
with pinafores. Girls also commonly wore smocks. Weare less
sure to what extent girls wore tunics and rompers. Hair bows
were especially popular--sone remarkably large.
German doctors found the cause of tuberculosis and developed the closed institution or sanatoriia approach to treating the disease (1880s). And a central focus was exposing the suferers with a healthful environment including fresh air and sushine. This was a major shift as until the 1880s the general approach was to wrap up children from head to toe. A factor here was modesty, but protecting children from both fresh air and sunshine was also a factor. Slowly we begin to see attitudes toward fresh air and sunnshine changing and those attitudes beginning to affect fashions. This was notable in the 1890s. We note, for example, more boys wearing knee pants, cut shorter, and to an older age. And in Europe, fewer boys wearing long stockings with knee pants. Swimsuits begin to become more sensible. This varied from country to country. The impact on fashion in the 1890s was still limited, but we begin to see the beginning of important fashion shifts. Other related dsevelopments can also be seen such as the summer camp movement in America which was an effort to get kids out of the polluted cities abd into the fresh air and sunshine of thge countryside. These trends were even more pronounced by tge 1900s even though there was still a pronounced foirmality in dress. The Scouts appeared in the 1900s were an effort to get youth involved in outdoor activities. We also see the appearance of barefoot sandals. Tghe trends were ecven more notably in the 1910s as they merged with the new casual styles introduced during World War I.
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