American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: The 1900s


Figure 1.--Tunics suits for younger boys were all the rage in the 1900s. This boy in a 1902 magazine wears a sailor tunic suit that looks almost like a dress.

Mail order catalogs and clothing advertisements show major changes in American boys clothes during the 1900s. Several important fashion trends are notable. Tunic suits like Buster Brown suits were all the rage for little boys. Sailor suits were still popular. Kneepants were still dominate in the 1900s, but knickers began to be worn by older boys. Short pants were intoduced for the Boy Scouts, but the boys insisted on wearing knickers. Kneesocks were still little worn. Most boys wore long stockings, Usage baried, but many boys even in highschool wore kneepants. usually black ones. Children at the turn of the 20th century, both boys and girls, almost universally wore underwaists or stocking supporters to hold up outer clothing and long stockings.

The 1900s

We have found some period catalog and advertising pages or illustrations that we cannot datey, but which we believe date to the 1900s decade. ually is practically impossible, but it is usuallu possible to setermine the decade. Hopefully we may eventually be able to date them precisely. The dates on catalogs and ads are very valuable in understanding fashion trends over time thus we do our best the items. But even undated items contain a lot of valuable information.

1900

Little boys still wore dresses in 1900. Two of the most popular styles for boys in 1900 were tunic suits and sailor suits. For dress occassions boys might still wear Fauntleroy suits. We note fancy long sleeved Futleroy blouses. We note a Butterick Pattern Company for a "Little Boys' blouse, with sailor or round collar, and with or without the box-plait." Written directions. Pattern dates circa 1900. It was a fancy blouse for a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit or to be worn by itself during the summer. Knee pants had become standard wear for boys in the 1890s and this continued in 1900. Boys commonly wore long stockings with knee panrs. Black long stockings were especially common for both boys and girls. Many support garments were developed to hold up long stockings. We notice an ad for the EZ Easy Waist for boys and girls. We also note posture correction devices.

1901

Younger boys comminly wore kilt suits when dressing up. The tunic was another popular style for younger boys. 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. We notice an ad for Presidential suspenders.

1902

Advertisements in 1902 showed boys wearing tunic suits in variety of styles. They were normally made in sizes up to 8 years. Sailor suits were another fashion staple. They were available in many styles and colors, usually to age 10 but some were also available in larger sizes.

1903

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.

1904

We note younger boys wearing tunic suits called Russian blouse suits. Older boys wore single breasted, double breasted, and Norfolk suits. Spiegel offered keepants suits in sizes up to age 17.

1905

We see younger boys weearing sailor headwear and tams. Older boys might wear flat caps. Dresses were becoming less common for little boys and we no longer see kilt suits. We see manu younger boys wearing different styles of tunic suits, commonly called Buster Brown suits or Russian blouse syits. Many boys wore blouses. Younger boys and girls wore similarly styled coats which were often labeled as children's coats. American boys commonly wore kneepants, although we begin to see some boys wearing knickers. Boys commonly wore long black stockings in 1905. Younger boys might wear white long stockings when dressing up, but black way by far the dominant color. We also see some colored stockings matching suits. We see support garments to keep up long stockings and pants.

1906

We have found information on 1906 fashions from quite a range of sources. We note an ad for Sprague's Junior League Baseball Shirt and Pants. It could be worn both as school clothes and a baseball uniform. It came in several colors with a matching cap and a snazy red belt. It appeared just as the baseball season was about to get underway. We also note a knit cap and sweater that was offered as prizes by The Youth's Companion for selling magazines. Sears offered quite a range of footwear. Long stockings were commonly worn by children. We notice ads for Wolverine suspender waists. The Wannemakers Department store in Philadelphia also offered skeleton waists.

1907

We have few catalog items and advertisements for 1907. We note a Sprague advertisement for a boy's play suit with a large-collar blouse and matching knickers. The ads that we note generally show boys wearing black long stockings. We note an ad for Iron Clad long stockings. We have now is a magazine advertisement for the Kazoo suspender waist. We also notice the Ferris waist for younger boys.

1908

A pattern published by the McCall Pattern Company. It was described as "Boy's Suit, having knickerbocker trousers." We would dscribe it as a Buster Brown suit, but it has sailor tunic features. The pattern dated circa 1908-1909.

1909

Ucanttear in its 1909 catalog off several different styles of knicker suits for boys 8-16 years of age. The referred to them as "knee pants suits" in the heading. All had double breasted styled jackets. One of these suits had an extra pair of "straight" pants, meaning kneepants. They were all shown as being worn with long stockings and not kneesocks.






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Created: September 1, 2000
Last updated: 9:27 PM 11/26/2010