We have begun to develop some basic information on 1903. Many little boys still wore dresses in 1903. Two of the most popular styles for boys tunic suits and sailor suits. For dress occassions boys might still wear Fauntleroy suits. Sailor suits were made for boys age 3-10 years. Single and double breasted suits were commonly made for boys to age 15 years. Boys in 1903 commonly wore kneepants suits. One of the most popular suits was the Norfolk suit. We note an ad for S.W. Peck & Co. Norfolk suits im the The Youth's Companion, one of the leading weekly periodicals in America at the time. We also notice formal tuxeods. Formal wear was still very important, at least for those who could afford it. We note another ad for "four-thread stockings" manufactured by the York Knitting Mills Co. This ad appeared in The Youth's Companion The ad showed black long stockings, the most common color at the time. The Best & Co offered what it called a Rugby waist. These companies as well as Sears and Wards offered catalogs with lines of children's clothing.
Many little boys still wore dresses in 1903. We no longer see many boys dresses advertised, although there were a few for very young boys. We do see many ads for children's drssses. There was no consensus concerning the term "children", although it was often meant for todlers/pre-school children. The term girl was often used to mean school-a\age girls. A few of the plainer children's dresses specified that they were suitablke for both boys and girls.
Kilt suits for boys were a major style iun the late-19th century. We still see ads for kilt suits, but they were no longer very common.
We note a range of blouses and waists (commonly called shirt waists) for boys. A blouse was a shirt without tails, essentially the moderrn meaning without the gender connotations. Waists/shirt waists were shirts without collars. We do not commonly see advertisements foir shirts. Some were made with large collars and sailor-like back flaps. Others were made with smaller pointed collars. Both blouses and waists were made without shirt tails. The difference between blouses and waists is not clearly defined. Blouses are usually for younger boys and done in a variety of juvenile styles. Blouses might butoon on to the waist band, but some blouced over the waist. Waists were usually done in more mature styles. They always buttoned on to the pants (trousers) at the waist.
One of the most popular styles for younger boys were various styles of tunic suits. They were called various names at the time. One popular term was Russian blouse. They were also called a child's dress. A good example is one depicted in New Idea magazine.
Younger boys for dress occassions boys might still wear Fauntleroy suits. We still see them offered in the early 1900s.
The sailor suit continued to be a popular style for boys during the 1900s, especially the early par oft the decade. We see the traditionally styling even more commonly than in the 1890s when we see more varied styles . Most were done as knee pants suits, although we see long pants suits as well. Knee pants were nearly universal for boys at the time. Sailor suits were the only outfits that boys might wear with lomg pants. The knee pants suirs were always picture as being worn with dark long stockings. We see sailor style tunics for boys from about 2-6 years old. The standard sailor suits with sailor blouses were commonly done in sizes 3-8 years, but we see sizes up to 10 years. The dark navy blue suits were the most common, but we also see white suits for summer wear. Both Sears and Wards offered a variety of sailor suits. We note two sailor blouse outfits offered by the Utica Clothiers based in DesMoines, Iowa who also had a catalog. The suits were offered in a wide range of fabric and colors.
We notice both single and double breasted suits. Single and double breasted suits were commonly made for boys to age 15 years. Boys in 1903 commonly wore kneepants suits. One of the most popular suits was the Norfolk suit. We note an ad for S.W. Peck & Co. Norfolk suits im the The Youth's Companion, one of the leading weekly periodicals in America at the time. We also notice Peck offering formal tuxeods. Formal wear was still very important, at least for those who could afford it.
We notice a varierty of sweaters offered for sale, both cotton and wool. A popular style at the turn-of-the-century was turtle necks which were reffered to as roll-neck sweaters.
We notice a range of coats for boys. There were still cape coats for boys. Reefer coats were available for both younger and older boys. There were a range of different overcoat styles.
Knee pants became standard for boys in the 1890s. By the turn of the century we even see some older teenagers wearig them. This continued in the 1900s. Knee pants were still the dominat type of trouser for boys in 1903. School portraits often show entire classes wearing them. This was especially true of the cities. There was more diversity in rural areas. We see some knickers in the castalogs, but knee pants were by far more important.
We note another ad for "four-thread stockings" manufactured by the York Knitting Mills Co. This ad appeared in The Youth's Companion The ad showed black long stockings, the most common color at the time.
We do not yet have detailed information about underwear offered in 1903 catalogs. Many underwear garments look old-fashjioned and are no longer worn today. We do note garments like union suits, combination belt, and hose supporter. An important role of underwear at the turn-of-the-century was to support other garments. The Best & Co offered what it called a Rugby waist. These companies as well as Sears and Wards offered catalogs with lines of children's clothing. Here is a new model suspender waist advertised in Perry, Iowa, in the Perry Daily Chief (November 25, 1903). The illustration is interesting because it shows the waist being worn with two-piece long underwear (shirt with three buttons on the chest, plus drawers that
fasten onto the suspenders in front) rather than the more common union suit.
One interesting factor to observe in old catalogs and catalogs is the age groupings. Modern age groups are generally pre school children, ages 2-6, primary school children (6-12), and teen agers (12-18). These are approximations and there are vaiations, but these generally are the basic groupings. We note sailor suits done for ages 3-10. Note that Sears offered boys kneepants suits for boys from age 8-15, a quite different age grouping than modern suit age sizing.
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