American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: 1900s

Figure 1.--Boys commonly wore blouses during the Summer, leading to the term "shirt-tail younguns". Men more cmmonly wore their jackets. Most boys wore kneepants with black long stockings. We also see here an elaborate girls' long coats and wrapper. We are not sure where this ad appeared, but would guess it was during the 1900s.

We have found some period catalog and advertising pages or illustrations that we cannot date, but which we believe date to the 1900s decade. Hopefully we may eventually be able to date them and the dates on catalogs and ads are very valuable in understanding fashion trends over time.Little boys still wore dresses in 1900. Two of the most popular styles for boys in the 1900s were tunic suits and sailor suits. For dress occassions boys might still wear Fauntleroy suits. We note fancy long sleeved Futleroy blouses. Boys commonly wore long stockings, primarily black long stockings. We notice many ads for waists and other stocking supporters for boys and girls. We also note posture correction devices.

Kilt Suits


Blouses were very common for boys in the 1900s. Boys commonly wore blouses during the Summer. Many blouses like the one the boy here is wearing had draw-string waist closures (figure 1). Notice how it blouses out at the waistline. They were worn with a wide range of collars, both detachable and fixed.


Boys also wore shirts with tails. During the Summer, boys woiuld weat shirts without jacketrs, leading to the term "shirt-tail younguns". Men more commonly wore their jackets.

Tunic Suits

Tunic suits were one of the most popular outfits for younger boys at the turn of the 20th century and the first two decades of the 20th century. Here we have a McCall pattern for a sailor styled tunic suit. McCall's refers to it as a Russian suit. I am not sure why. Some tunic suits were styled like Russian blouses. McCall's mat have used Russian to describe tunic suits in general. The pattern is not dated, but we would guess the early 1900s. It is interesting because it shows that the bloomer knickers were made with a bodice.

Fauntleroy Suits

Sailor Suits

We notice a Best & Co advertisement for a boy's sailor blouse from an unidentified magazine. The ad is undated, but looks like the 1900s to us. A white sailor blouse is depicted. It was white lawn and a white duck collar. It was done 2 1/2 to 8 years. Best was a New York Department store, but had a mail order catalog.

Reefer Suits


Boy commonly wore suits in the 1900s. We note collar-buttoning suits as well as sack suits with lapels, both single- and double-breasted suits. Most boys' suits were done with kneepants, but knicker suits were also available. We note a Montgomery Ward's ad for a Dickey Kersey cloth double breasted knee pants suit. Unfortunately it is not dated. We believe it was in an early or mid-1900s catalog. We also have a page from the Besse System, a group of New Ebngkand clothing stores offering a variety of boys suits for older and younger boys. It also is undated, but looks like the early-1900s.



Most boys wore kneepants. Knickers were also worn, but were not as common as kneepants.


Long stockings were very common in the 1900s, commonly worn by both boys and girls. Most boys wore black long stockings. There were other colors such as grey. We note grey Black Bear stockings. Younger boys might wear white long stockings when dressing up.



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Created: 4:48 AM 3/18/2005
Last updated: 9:35 PM 1/27/2014