Boys Clothing During the 1940s: Garments

 

Figure 1.--Many American dads were seen off to the War in the early 1940s by knicker-clad sons. When they returned, far fewer knickers were to be seen. Note that the boy wears ankle rather kneesocks with his knickers in this photograph, probably taken in 1942. One reader wonders if the boy is wearing a baseball uniform. It is is possibe, but uniforms werenot as common in 1942 as after the War. Also note that the pants are worn with a belt and that there are no stylistic details as are commonly found on base ball uniforms.

Major trends occured in boys wear during the 1940s. World War II of course had a najor impact on these changes. Fashions of all kinds were impaired by the World War which broke oit in Europe in September 1939 after Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland and Britain and France followed with a declaration of war. The War soon led to clothes rationing througout Europe. America was not forced into the War until the Japnese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Fashion developmens during the early 1940s were most pronounced in America which was least affect among the major combantant nations. The most obvious trend during the 1940s was the rapid disappearance of knickers. American boys in the 1930s till widely wore knickers. They were still quite common in 1940, but by 1945 had become a much less impoprtant style. They were still seen in the late 1940s, but had vecome a fashion of minor importance. Knickers persisted somewhat longer in Europe, but the trend was the same. Other important developments in the 1940s was the expanding popularity of jeans and "T"-shirts, two garments heavily influenced by the War.

The War

Major trends occured in boys wear during the 1940s. World War II of course had a najor impact on these changes. Fashions of all kinds were impaired by the World War which broke oit in Europe in September 1939 after Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland and Britain and France followed with a declaration of war. The War soon led to clothes rationing througout Europe. America was not forced into the War until the Japnese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Fashion developmens during the early 1940s were most pronounced in America which was least affect among the major combantant nations.

Pants

The most obvious trend during the 1940s was the rapid disappearance of knickers. American boys in the 1930s till widely wore knickers. They were still quite common in 1940, but by 1945 had become a much less impoprtant style. They were still seen in the late 1940s, but had vecome a fashion of minor importance. HBC is not quite sure why knickers disappeared so rapidly in America. Perhaps with dad away during the War, boys were more easily able to convince mon to buy them long pants. Knickers persisted somewhat longer in Europe, but the trend was the same. Mostly older boys had been wearing knickers in Europe, except during the winter. Eurpean boys continued wearing mostly short pants. Knickers steadily declined in popularity in Europe also, even during the winter. Of more importance for the future was the increasing importance of jeans. By the end of the decade, American elementary children, many of whom had been wearing shorts and knickers to school, were now wearing long pants jeans. Jeans were, however, yet to appear in Europe.

Shirts

Another developments in the 1940s was the expanding popularity of "T"-shirts. American boys had begun wearing "T"-shirts in the 1930s, brightly colored shirts with bright horizonatal stripes. Both long and short sleeved styles. The "T"-shirt was heavily influenced by the War. Many GIs wore "T"-shirts in working situations during the War. When they returned home, the casual "T"-shirt was much more accepted than ever before.

Hosiery

American boys in the 1940s increasingly wore ankle socks. This was true, as the decade progressed, even when wearing shorts or knickers. Kneesocks were becoming increasingly less common for boys, although boys from affluent families might wear them when dressing up as part of a suit. Long stocking were still worn but became ecen less common. The ankle socks worn were usually colored ones wth horizontal stripes.





 
 

Christopher Wagner






 
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Created: March 31, 1998
Last updated: January 23, 2001