Boys Historical Clothing Essays: National Descriptions--Continental-style Shorts

Figure 1.--A British mail order catalog, Freemans, showed a wide range of boys clothes in 1974. We have little information about the company at this time. We notice both flared long pants and short cut continental-style short pants like the shorts the boys here is modeling. Click on the image for more information.

We notice references to "continental-style shorts" in Britain. A reader writes, "When English boys stopped wearing "culottes anglaises", what they wore were described as "continental-style shorts". At the same time as the Brits were looking to the continent for fashion ideas, the French started dressing their boys in longer culottes anglaises. It's funny how they admired each other's styles, yet they couldn't manage to both dress the same way at the same time." English school boys and Cubs by the 1970s were wearing continental-styled shorts. The image here shows an English mail order catalog offering continental-style shorts (figure 1). We notice that there was no reference to any specific continental country, perhaps because the shorter-cut shots were so common throughout Europe. We notice them in Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and many other countries. The term "continental-style" shorts was commonly used in Britain to describe the fashion on the continent. We do not note it being used on the continent itself. We note that they were also worn in Japan, although we do not note if the Japanese referred to continental styling. We have not noted them as being worn in America. We believe that France was an especially important influence in developing this style. We do not have a precise time line as to just when continental styling developed in Europe. We do know that it spread to England in thre 1960s and was wide spread in England during the 1970s and early 80s.


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Created: December 8, 2003
Last updated: December 13, 2003