Figure 1.--The image from 1946 shows that boys were still pictured in ties and short pants, even for play around the house. Note the ankle socks. ASlso notice the little girl wears a dress. In the 1940s girls usually wore dresses, even for play.
A popular style for younger boys was the play suit. These might be button-on combinations or just matching shirts and pants. The pants were usually shorts, but there were also long pants versions as well. The shirts had varying styling. One popular style was the sailor styling--but not always middy blouses. The suits were often avialiable in light colors. The concept of the play suit appeared at the turn of the 20th century with outfits like the Buster Brown and other tunic suits. By the 1930s, however, theu had become simpler more utilitarin garments. I believe the first matching shirts and shorts play suits appeared in the 1930s, but were very popular in the 1940s.
A play suit was a casual style that younger boys could as the name suggest, could play in. It was also considered suitable for semi-formal events as it was becoming more acceptable for younger boys to appear at events without dressing formally in a suit and tie or other formal attire. The name is a bit confusing. HBC uses the term "suit" to denote formal atire in which the jacket matches the trousers. A HBC reader asks "Am I missing something in this figure 1? How do you know it is a play suit? It looks like a formal suit to me." The word "suit" is used in comnnection with play suits bdcause the shirt and jacket are the same material. There are several elements which differentiate the play suit from more formal suits.
Open collar: Play suits always had open collars, they were never worn with ties.
Material: Both formal suits and play suits were outfits in which the shirts and pants were made of the same material. There was, however, a major difference. These play suits were normally made of light weght material suitable for the summer. The material was normally a material commonly used for shirts. Suits were normally made from heavier materiual and the jacket of a suit was made to be wiorn over a shirt.
Color: Play suits were often white or other light colors while suits more commonly were darker colors.
Self belt: Many plat suits came wityh self belts. Suit pants always had bdelt loops.
Button-on: Some play suits were button-on styles. Formal suits were never button-on im the sence that the trousers button on to the jacket., Some were made with the tousers nutton on to shirts.
Conventions: These suits were made for casual and play wear, althouh a boy might have one better plau suit for special occasions. Regular suits were of course not worn for play.
I believe the first matching shirts and shorts play suits appeared in the 1930s, but were very popular in the 1940s. They were still worn in the early 1950s, but rarely seen after mid-decade.
A popular style for younger boys was the play suit. Boys liked them because the light weight and open collar made them comfortable for the summer, especially befgore most families had air cinditioners. I believe they were popular with mothers because they were so easy to wash.
These might be button-on combinations or just matching shirts and pants. Some had self belts in the same color and naterial as the suit. The shirts had varying styling. One popular style was the sailor styling--but not always middy blouses.
The pants were usually shorts, but there were also long pants versions as well.
The suits were often avialiable in white or light colors.
The concept of the play suit appeared at the turn of the 20th century with outfits like the Buster Brown and other tunic suits. By the 1930s, however, they had become simpler more utilitarin garments.
HBC readers have provided the following comments.
The play-suit was a style so all pervasive for small boys as to be almost invisable. As a boy muself in the 1940s, I don't remember, seeing them on kids over the age of about 6 or 7. There was also the "sunsuit" a one piece summer garment worn by little
boys and girls--some of which had bloomer bottoms. Play-suits seem related to those. And, yes, they disappeared in the early 1950s.
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