Country Differences in the Wearing of Short Pants--Climate


Figure 1.--America's climate is much more severe than much of Western Europe, despite the northern lattitudes. Many American mothers did not think short pants were appropriate boys wear in cold winter weather. This advertisement for the well-known Hickory hose supporters appeared in Parents Magazine, March 1932, p. 58. Thus those American boys that did wear short pants in the Winter often wore them with long stockings to cober their knees.

America's climate is much more severe than much of Western Europe, despite the norther lattitudes. Many American mothers did not think short pants were appropriate boys wear in cold winter weather. This advertisement for the well-known Hickory hose supporters appeared in Parents Magazine, March 1932, p. 58. It appealed to mothers to keep their children in long stockings during the chilly March weather rather than letting them go outdoors with bare knees. The boy and girl in the illustration are being pelted with chilly rain, apparently with unprotected knees. The mothers are being advised to protect their boys and girls from the dangers of "rheumatism, arthritis, lung, bone or kidney troubles" by keeping them during the early spring months in long stockings to "prevent unnecessary colds and more serious troubles". The advertisement even appeals to the endorsement of physicians: "Ask your doctor, too."American mothers appear to have become convinced that it was unheatlhful to expose children's knees to cold weather. This was common place in England, but the weather there was more moderate than in the northern American states. In parts of Europe where winter was more severe, boys might wear short pants during the winte, but with long stockings. In Britain boys after world war almost always wore short pants with kneesocks. Short pants were not as popular in America as in Europe and this was especially true in the winter and in northern states in general. Europen styles were influential with affluent Americans, but for most American families, mothers were convinced that they hd to protect their childrn's knees. Here gender differences developed. While girls commonly wore long stockings during the winter in the 1920s, by the 1930s girls were more commonly wearing kneesocks during the Winter. Boys for the most part, however, had their knees well covered with knickers and long pants.

America

America's climate is much more severe than much of Western Europe, despite the norther lattitudes. Many American mothers did not think short pants were appropriate boys wear in cold winter weather. This advertisement for the well-known Hickory hose supporters appeared in Parents Magazine, March 1932, p. 58 (figure 1). It appealed to mothers to keep their children in long stockings during the chilly March weather rather than letting them go outdoors with bare knees. The boy and girl in the illustration are being pelted with chilly rain, apparently with unprotected knees. The mothers are being advised to protect their boys and girls from the dangers of "rheumatism, arthritis, lung, bone or kidney troubles" by keeping them during the early spring months in long stockings to "prevent unnecessary colds and more serious troubles". The advertisement even appeals to the endorsement of physicians: "Ask your doctor, too."American mothers appear to have become convinced that it was unheatlhful to expose children's knees to cold weather.

Canada

A Canadian reader writes, "Short pants are worn by all boys in Canada in the summer only when the weather is hot. The rest of the year, they wear long pants because it's too cold. I am sure that the same goes for the northern United States."

England

Wearing short pants in the Winter without long stockings was common place in England, but the weather there was more moderate than in the northern American states. In parts of Europe where winter was more severe, boys might wear short pants during the winte, but with long stockings. In Britain boys after world war almost always wore short pants with kneesocks.

France

We note French boys commonly wearing short pants during the Winter, but rarely with long stockings. Kneesockswere much morecommon. Only in the late 1950s did French boys begin to commonly wear long pants when the weather got cold. A French reader writes, "It must be said that in France we have a range of climates. In the Paris region summers and winters are moderat. oys could comfortably wear short pants throughout the year, except for a few winter weeks. In the south along the French Riviera, temperatures are pleasent throughout the year, becoming quite warm in the summer. Boys wear shorts throughout the year and even go swiming in the winter. Inthe north, especially in the Vosges, winter temperatures can be sevcere, reachomh -25 Celsus! Boys there wear long pants."

Germany

Wearing short pants with long stockings was very common in Germany during the 1920s. This declined in 1930s as the NAZI mentality promoted tougness and long stockings except on the youngest boys were seen as weakness. Some even saw it as a rather girlish style. After World War II during the 1940s and 50s, long stockings become somewhat more common, especially in rural areas--but gradually declined after the mid-1950s.

(The) Netherlands


Soviet Union

We note boys wearing short pants diring the Winter in Russia through the 1950s. We also note boys wearing kneesocks. We have few details on how common this was.






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Created: December 6, 2003
Last updated: December 8, 2003