American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: 1901


Figure 1.--Another ad from Best & Co.--this one for Boys' One-Piece Kilt Dresses, from The Youth's Companion (May 30, 1901, p. 289). Note that this is an advertisements for specifically designed boys' dresses. Interestingly, the age range is age 2, 2 1/2, and 3 years.

Little boys still wore dresses in 1900. Younger boys comminly wore kilt suits when dressing up. The tunic was another popular style for younger boys. For dress occassions boys might still wear Fauntleroy suits. The sailor style was very popular. Many boys wore sailor suits and middy blouses. We note a striped middy blouse offered by Best & Co. Formal dress was still quite important in the 1900s. We notice ads for formal dress outfits. One such outfit was offered by Sykes & Kirschbaum, a fashionable New York clothiers. They do not use the term tuxedo, but it was kneepants tuxedo. Suspenders were a popular form of trouser suspension. We notice an ad for Presidential suspenders. We note fancy long sleeved Futleroy blouses. Boys commonly wore long stockings, primarily black long stockings.

Dresses

Little boys still wore dresses in 1900, although the prevalence of this convention was declining. Some dresses were specifically styled for boys. We note, for example, dresses being called kilt dresses to give them more appeal as the kilt was a make garment.

Best & Co. kilt dresses

Another ad from Best & Co.--this one for Boys' One-Piece Kilt Dresses, from The Youth's Companion (May 30, 1901, p. 289). Note that this is an advertisements for specifically designed boys' dresses. Interestingly, the age range is age 2, 2 1/2, and 3 years. Apparently most boys graduated from dresses to trousers (breeching) at about age 3 1/2 or 4. HBC has other advertisements from Best & Co (e.g., the Rugby Waist) sold by a division of the shop referred to as the "Lilputian Bazaar." The ad copy read, "Best & Co. Liliputian Bazaar. Boys' One-Piece Kilt Dress. Made of fine white pique: the yoke front is neatly trimmed with insertion and band embroidery; back has four narrow box plaits from collar to bottom of skirt. Ages 2, 2 1/2, and 3 years. $3.25. By mail, postage paid, 15 cents extra. Our catalogue, in new form, listing nearly 2,000 Articles for Children, more than half of them illustrated, sent on receipt of this advertisement and 4 cents postage. Address Dept. 15. 60-62 W. 23d St., New York."

Kilt Suits

Younger boys still wore kilt suits when dressing up. They seem much less common and for notably younger boys after the turn of the 20th century, but we still see some being offered in catalogs. Here we see a dress styles rather like a kilt suit (figure 1). Ir was, however, a dress, not a kilt suit.

Blouses

We note fancy long sleeved Futleroy blouses. Little Lord Fauntleroy suits were still popular un 1900. Boys wore fancy blouses with It was a fancy blouse for a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit or to be worn by itself during the summer. The sailor style often called a middy blouse was also popular. Many boys wore sailor blouses.

Best & Co. sailor blouse

We note a striped sailor blouse offered by Best & Co. We at first called these middy blouses rather than sailor blouses. But American companies tended to use middy blouse for girl's sailor blouses only. We are still investigating the terminology question. The ad appeared in The Youth's Companion (September 5, 1901, p. 435). Note the striping of everything--the blouse, the collar, the middy, and even the scarf. This was rather unusual.

Best & Co. white summer sailor blouse

Another good example of blouses for boys is a Best & Co. white summer sailor blouse. We do not know what magazine in which the ad appeared. It was for boys to age 8 years. The suit was made in lawn and duck. We think this ad appeared in other publications.

Shirts


Tunic Suits

The tunic was another popular style for younger boys. We do not see the tunic suit to any great cextent in the 1890s. And we are not sure precisely when the tunic suit appeared. It had to be around the turn-of-the 20th century. We see it being widely worn throughout the 1900s. We note tunic suits made in a heavy material for winter wear as well as lighter material for summerwear.

Fauntleroy Suits

For dress occassions boys might still wear Fauntleroy suits, but they were becoming less common.

Sailor Suits

Sailor suits continued to be worn by younger boys and we commonly see them in vatalogs. Stores in 1901 offered a wide range of sailor suits for boys. They were made in many styles and colors as well as a variety of materials. They seem primarily for younger boys through the first primary years. Our archive is still limited, but we note sailor suits through age 8 years. They were mostly knee pants suits. Short pants had not yet become an important style. They were still commonly worn with long stockings.

Reefer Suits


Suits

Formal dress was still quite important in the 1900s. We notice ads for formal dress outfits.

Sykes & Kirschbaum tuxedo

Formal dress was still quite important in the 1900s. We notice ads for formal dress outfits. One such outfit was offered by Sykes & Kirschbaum, a fashionable New York clothiers. They do not use the term tuxedo, but it was kneepants tuxedo.

Coats

We note a range of coat styles for boys and girls. Youjnger children might wear the same styles. We note some coats dione in the new popular tunic styles as well as sailor styles. A good example is a Delineator pattern (November 1901). This is one of the earlier tunic items we have found in catalogs and advertisements.

Pants

Most American boys wore kneepants. They were almost universal. Knickers were also worn, but were not very common. This did not begin to change until the end of the decade.

Hosiery

Long stockings were also almost universal in the 1900s. Most boys and girls wore them. Boys commonly wore long stockings, primarily black long stockings. Younger boys might wear white long stockings when dressing up. We also see younger boys wearung white soicks. The great majority of boys and girls, however, wore black long stockings.

Fay button-on long stockings

We thought that when we found a Wards advertisement for button-on long stockings in 1939 that it was a totally new (and largely unsuccessful) invention. Sears also had a similar product, but the fad was very short-lived because they disappeared quickly from the catalogues of successive years. But we were wrong about the novelty. As this image shows, button-on stockings were being sold as early as 1901 by the Fay Stocking company of Elyria, Ohio (south of Lake Erie in Loraine county). These stockings are made for both adults and children, for ladies as well as for boys and girls.

Support Garments

Long stockings required somne sort of support garments. The fact that so many American children wore long stockings meant that stocking supporters were also a common item. Ans we note quite a number of different compnies offering a wide variety of different supoport garments. The advertisements include all kinds of information about the cotruction and feature of the various support garments. They were advertised widely. For some reasins we see more ads for the support gaments than hoisiery. We note the ads in newspaopers, magazines, and mail order catalogs.

President suspenders

We note an ad for boys' "President" suspenders. "President" was a brand of suspenders made for both men and boys. There were numerous ads for "President Suspenders" in 1901 issues of "The Youth's Companion". Boys of course wore suspenders mostly with knee pants although they could of course also be worn with more grown-up long pants. Notice the boy doing a hand stand in the illustration to show that these suspenders have the maximum amount of give and won't restrict a boy's movements in any way.

Sampson suspender waists

This ad is revealing because it shows a very early example of the suspender waist. It is interesting because it provides more information about how this particular suspender waist was constructed. Notice that the appeal is to mothers who want to free their sons from more primitive waists that "bind the arms, waist or any part of the body." The sizes involved are for boys from 2 to 14 years of age. This waist is somewhat more complex in construction than the Kazoo suspender waist which appears to have sold more widely at a slightly later date. Note that it has attachments for holding up knee trousers, underdrawers, and supporters for long stockings. The ad copy describes the features offered.

Various brands of supporters

This very prominent ad in the Hutchinson News (April 10, 1901, page 4), Hutchinson, Kansas, offers a large assortment of brands of hose supporters and related products. It illustrates the variety of styles and brands available nationally at the turn-of-the century. HBC has noticed most of these brands individually on various pages and on our underwear manufacturers' page. Among the most important brands offered here are Warners Brothers, Velvet Grip, Boston, Flexo, Sterling (a brand name of Warners), Ferris, and Kerns. All these companies and brands represent various elastic products such as shoulder braces, men's garters, children's and women's hose supporters and shoulder garters, in addition to belts for women's sanitary napkins and knee protectors (in two different materials--leather and jersey) to save wear in boy's long stockings.

Underwear









HBC






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Created: 7:29 PM 1/18/2005
Last updated: 4:19 PM 1/7/2011