English Personal Experiences: The 1900s--Sailor Suits and Hosiery


Figure 1.--These English boys wear white keepants as part of their sailor suitoutfits. The outfits are virtually identical. The major differenc is that the younger boys wears short socks. Image used courtesy of the MD Collection.

The two brothers seen here wear immaculate white kneepants sailor suits. The boys wear virtually identical suits. The principal difference is that the younger brother wears three-quarter white socks with strap shoes. The older brother wears long dark stockings, but with the same strap shoes. We believe that this was not just a random choice. Rather we believe that short white socks were considered more appropriate for younger boys and long dark stockings for older boys. Despite the diffrent hosiery, both boys wear identicl black strp shoes with the back ankle strap.

Chronology

This image like the others availble on these boys is undated. HBC wuld date it about 1900. There are sevral reasons for this, one of the most importnt concerns the boys' hosiery. The white sailor suits suggest a summer portrait. We believe that in the 1900-10 period, younger began to more commonly wear socks during the summer. The longstockings woirn by the older boy here suggests that it ws taken about 1900 and not later in the decade.

Younger Boy

The younger brother wears three-quarter white socks with strap shoes. It is interesting that the hosiery was differnt, but that th shoies are identical. e believe that the major factor her is that it was considered acceptable for a very young boy to wear short socks with kneepants or short pants, but not for an older boy.

Older Brother

The older brother wears long dark stockings, but with the same strap shoes. Note the older boy's long stockings are a bit baggy. We note a lot of very young English boys wearing socks with kneepants and shorts. Until the appearanc of the Boy Scout movement in 1906, it was much more common for older boys to wear long sockings.


Figure 2.--Thee older brotherwears darl long sockings. Both boys war the same strap shoes. Image used courtesy of the MD Collection.

Explanation

We believe that this was not just a random choice. Rather we believe that short white socks were considered more appropriate for younger boys and long dark stockings for older boys.

Fashion Standards

Presumably it was mother who decided what kind of hosiery the boys wore for this portrait. I am not sure to what extent boys of this age were aware of fashion conventions cincerning hosiery. Certainly the short socks worn by the younger oy were mmore comfortable and did not require stocking upporters.





Christopher Wagner





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Created: April 12, 2002
Last updated: April 12, 2002