World War represents a great divide between 19th and 20th Century boys'clothes. The War was arguably the single most important event in the development of modern fashionms. Before the War boys still wore dresses and kilts with ringlet curls for little boys. Older boys wore formal clothes like Little Lord Fauntleroy suits worn with keepants. After the war boys wore shortpants and knickers with modern looking suits. Clothes became increasingly casual. I am not sure why such a profound change in fashion took place. Certainly the War was devestating. An entire generation of French, British, and Germans were lost. But just why the change in boys' fashions occured I am not sure. HBC can only offer a therory at this time. Women were mobilized for the work force. Many women who had never left the home before, entered the work force. Theu simply did not have time to launder and care for the fancy clothes of the Victorian and Edwardian era. But time was not the only factor. As a result of the War, the frivolity of formal fashion seemed much less important than before the War. Men returing from the Western front, experienced a profound change in values. The restructuring of the world economy after World War I needs to be considered.
Terroism was at the heart of World War I in a chilling reminder to our modern age. War had been brewing in Europe for decades. It was a terrorist act that was the actual catalyst. Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip (June, 28, 1914) assasinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. The Austrians were incorporating Bosnia into their Empire and had chosen the most sacred day in Serbian history, their defeat by the Ottoman Turks on the plains of Kosovo, for the Archduke's visit. The Austrians decided to punish the Serbs. The German
Government (July 6) gave its support for Austro-Hungary's plan to punish the Serbs. Germany and Austria-Hungary became known as the Central Powers. When Austria-Hungary with German backing declared war on Serbia, Russia and France began to mobilize its troops. As a result of Kaiser Wilhem's bumbling, France had succeeded in signing a mutual defense treaty. Germany felt impelled to strike at France before Russia could mobilize. Germany declaring war on Russia (August 1) and France (August 3). The German Army entered neutral Belgium (August 4), in an effort to go around the strong French border defenses. Britain declared war on Germany over the violation of Belgian neutrality. Britain, France, and Russia became known as the Allied countries. The Germans were convinced they could take Paris before either th British or Russians could intervene. Miraculously the French Army managed to stop the Germans at the Marne and the Western Front became a brutal war of attrition. Italy had signed a treaty with Germany and Austria Hungary, decided not to honor it and later entered the War. Turkey had signed a defensive alliance with Germany in July 1914 and seeing an opportuity to make major gains against their historic enemy Russia joined the Central Powers. Making another effort to win the War, Germany in 1917 reimplemented unrestricted submarine warfare, bringing America into the War. Despite German victories on the Eastern Front agaist Russia, the added resources and man power America provided enabled the Allies to break the German's on the Western Front. The Kaiser was forced to abdicate and a new government had to seak an armistace.
The Americans adopted an olive drab uniform. Almost an exacpt replica had been adopted by the American Boy Scout movement. An Australian reader tells us that "Alec Campbell is a good example of the uniforms Australians wore in World War I. Along with our flat top busman's type cap or hat and the now famous green Slouch hat that they wore with distinction'a tad like the American calvary wore on both sides of the Civil War. I have a slouch hat and the busman's type cap as well and I put them in my window on ANZAC day and on November 11 as well and now also on September 11 too." Perhaps the most destinctive and least explicable garment in the War was the German spiked helmet.
World War I is interesing, both in the years leading up to the War and in the aftermath of the War.
It is a little known fact that the boys' sailor suit had a role in preparing the ground work for the calamity of World War I. Fashion is generally viewed by HBC as a reflection of larger historical an societal trends. We remained convinced that this is essentially the case. It is interestng however, to reflect on the impact of the boys' sailor suit in the years leaing up to World War I. It certainly refcted the temper of the times, but there is reason to believe that the sailor suit was a factor in leading the great European powers to war.
World War represents a great divide between 19th and 20th Century boys'clothes. The War was arguably the single most important event in the development of modern fashions. In many ways the Edwarian Era before World War I, has more in common with the 19th century Victorians than the rest of the 20th century.
Before the War boys still wore dresses and kilts with ringlet curls for little boys. Older boys wore formal clothes like Little Lord Fauntleroy suits worn with keepants. Sailor suits were enormously popular, in part because the battleship was the most powerful weapon of the day and the way countries exerted their power around the world. After the war boys wore shortpants and knickers with modern looking suits. Sailor suits were still worn, but began to decline in popularity. Clothes became increasingly casual. Short pants became popular for boys. The sneaker was another style which became popular.
HBC is not sure why such a profound change in fashion took place. There are several probable factors. But just why the change in boys' fashions occured I am not sure. HBC can only offer a therory at this time.
Certainly the War was devestating. An entire generation of French, British, and Germans were lost. As a result of the War, the frivolity of formal fashion seemed much less important than before the War. Men returing from the Western front, experienced a profound change in values. Mem returning from the front had reason to questiin all the ol certanties and values. As a result, outward expressions of the Edwardian era such as fashion were easily discared.
Military uniforms always influence fashion. Uniforms were much more practical garments than the formal clothes that men wore before the War. On the home front goverments issued regulations to more efficently use limited supply of fabric and a shrinking work force. Fancy clothes often required larger quanties of fabric and during he War came to be seen as frivolous.
Women were mobilized for the work force. Many women who had never left the home before, entered the work force. Tey increasingly wanted practical clothes for themselves and their children. It is not wiely unerstood today the labor require to run a home in the eraly 20th century before the inventiion of a wide range of labor saving devices. Laundry alone was a huge effort, especially for the formal clothes commonly worn before the War. Women simply did not have time to launder and care for the fancy clothes of the Victorian and Edwardian era.
Time was not the only factor that acted to promote practical, casual clothes. The War was a factor which accelerated existing trends. One of these was attitues toward leisure and sport. Many Victorians in the 19th centurry were suspious leisure, some consiering it even imoral. Only slowly did chilren's play in fact become something that parents promoted. After the War leisure became a new passion. Many factors were involved such as rising incomes, but those who survive the War, were determined to enjoy life to the fullest. This new freedom was eagerly taken up by their children.
The restructuring of the world economy after World War I needs to be considered.
The hardships of the War affected the social outlook of both men and women. This varied from country to country, but there were many common threads. Men returing from the Western front experienced a profound change in values. Women who lost their loved ones were also affected. Many were prepared to accept the lead of their social betters before the War. They assumed the ruling class knew what they were doing. The War exposed their incompetence. This was reflected in the rising success of Socialist parties in Europe, such as the Labour Party in Britain. This affected the working class's willingness to follow the lead of the ruling class in other matters such as fashion. This probably contributed to the move away from frivolity and formality in fashion. As a result of the War, the frivolity of formal fashion seemed much less important than before the War. The mobilization of men for military service meant that women entered the work force as never before. This was especially the case of the more industrisalized countries of Western Europe. And they entered jobs once reserved exclusively for men. Participatin in work force gave many women anlevel of independence and confidence they had never before experienced. They sasaw \that they could work equally as the men. The result was that women in the 1920s were quite different from the previous generation. For the mosdt part the men returning home got their jobs back and women retyrned to the home, but their outlook was very different. This was observeable in both fashion and social life and activites as well. There outfits became more "radical" and shorter and their new form of independence was seen. Their social life. Women began wearing less restrictive garments. Hem lines rose. Women started to smoke and drink in public. The flapper became an icon of the 1920s in America. Their clothes and behavior relected a higher social status reflected in achieving the right to vote in many countries--here France was a laggard. Women did not achieve equality but they entered the post-War era with more confidence and freedom than ever before.
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