American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: The 1930s


Figure 1.--This page from the Sears Spring catalog in 1934 offered a variety of outfits for younger boys and girls.

There were no major fashion changes in the 1930s. Boys at the beginning of the decade were wearing clothes that many will see as dated today, but by the end of the decade many more modern styles had emerged. Flat caps were still commonly worn at the beginning of the decade, but had largely disapperared by the end of the decade. Younger boys often wore short pants. American boys still mostly wore knickers, although older boys increasingly wore long pants. Most knickers by the 30s were the below the knee style. Long stockings were still commin at the beginning of the decade, but had begubn to be replaced by kneesocks. Ankle socks became increasingly popular as the decade progrrssed. Major changes occurred in the underwear boys wore.

1930s

We have acquired a variety of items that cannot be dated by year, but we can date to the 1930s. Some are from unidentified or date magazines and catalogs. Others are sewing patterns. Home sewing was still common and these patterns usually are not dated by year. We have found toddler items. We note little boys' fancy outfits. Sailor suits were still wrong. Suits were not as widely worn as in the 1920s, but they were still were common. We note both single and double breasted jackers and short, knicker, and long pants. We have an advertisement from the Minnesota Knitting Works. It looks like a magazine advertisement, probably from Parents Magazine, probably about 1930. The ad shows many of the underwear item's in the company line.

1930

There were no major new fashions introduced in the 1930s, but several long-running trends were observeable. They were well documented in the catalogs. Knickers were still worn, but by younger boys and were declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summer. Kneesocks were commonly worn, usually with Argyle or other patterns. Ankle socks were less common, but increasing in popularity. Some boys wore long tockings, but increasingly younger boys. The Butlers Brothers wholesale company in its 1930-31 catalog offered a range of boys' suits, both knickers and long pants suits. Sears catalogs also offered many knickers both as individual pants and as suits. The suits were sized by age--from 7 to 17 years. Some boys wore long trousers earlier than 17, but by 18 nearly all boys had switched to longies. There were no short pants suits shown. I'm not sure if this was bdeacuse it was winter or because they were less popular. We also note new styles of underwearin keeping with the new juvenile styles like short pants. One example is the Minneapolis Knitting Works.

1931

We have no detailed information on 1931 catalogs and advertisements at this time. We do have a few catalog pages and have begun to develop some information. We note a variety of patterned and plain colored shirts. Knickers were still very common. We note a page for long stockings. American children still commonly wore long stockings even during the Spring and Summer. We note a page in the Sears Spring-Summer catalog Sears catalog devoted entirely to long stockings. We also note kneesocks. We are not sure how kneesocks and long stockings compare in popularity. We do note that there are many more different types of lonf stockings offered which is usually a sign of popularity. The underwear boys wore was undergoing substantial changes in the ealy 1930s. We do note a Sears page for summer underwear.

1932

Knickers were still worn, but by younger boys and were declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summer. Kneesocks were commonly worn, usually with Argyle or other patterns. Ankle socks were less common, but increasing in popularity. Some boys wore longtockings, but increasingly younger boys. The light colored tan and brown colors for long stockings were readily apparent in 1932 catalogs. Long stockings were still worn in in 1932, but were declining in popularity. Parents' Magazine ha an advertisement for Hickory stocking supporters.

1933

Kneesocks and long stockings were commonly worn in 1933, by both boys and girls. Catalogs offered a selection of both long stockings and kneesocks. An example are Wards long stockings in the Fall-Winter 1933-34 catalog. We notice garter waists and hose supporters commonly offered in masil order catalogs. Ward's Spring and Summer catalog offered various styles of garter waists. The models were all boys, although of course there was no difference in the garter waists worn by the two genders. We note a 1933 advertisement from Parents Magazine for various styles of Hanes children's underwear. Hanes is of coure still an important manufacturer of underwear.

1934

We do not yet have much catalog information about 1934. We have found a catalog page offering clothes for younger boys and girls. The page was from the Sears catalog. It showed quite a range of Spring fashions for yonger boys and girls. We note bib-front overalls and a variety of short sets for boys. The ages are not specified but these look to be pre-schhool boys perhaps up to about age 6 (figure 1). We also note newspaper advertisements for waist union suits and other items.

1935

We do not yet have much information on 1935 fashions, but we have found some items. We have some pages from the Sears Spring-Summer catalogs with a wide range of clothing and shoes. We note a range of short pants suits for younger boys, but long pants were made in sizes for even the youngest boys. We do have an ad from a Ward's catalog for waist suits.

1936

Knickers were still worn, but by younger boys and were declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summer. Kneesocks were commonly worn. Ankle socks were less common, but increasing in popularity. Some boys wore long stockings, but increasingly younger boys. The light colored tan and brown colors for long stockings were readily apparent in 1936 catalogs.

1937

Our information on 1937 is still limited, but we have some limited information. Knickers were still worn, but no longer universal. Boys were increasingly wearing long pants. We see more long pants suit. Children, mostly younger children were still wearing long stockings. Sears offered several styles of waists for use as stocking supporters in its Fall-Winter 1937-38 catalog. An ad for EZ-Underwear provides an assessment for the full range of children's underwear offered by the company, one of the major manufacturers. The ad appeared in Good Housekeeping Magazine, 1937--presumably to appeal to mothers who were buying back-to-school clothes for their youngsters.

1938

American mail order catalogs in 1938 still featured many of the styles worn in the 1920s and earlier in the 1930s. Knickers were still worn, but declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summer. We have some limited information on American catalog offerings in 1938. Sears in 1938 offerd boys Mackinaw jackets in its 1938-39 Winter catalog. This was a popular style in both the 1930s and 40s. Sears also offered a wide range of waist suits for boys and girls in the Handwear store brand.

1939

Advertisements for long stockings show them in long lengths and a variety of light brown/tan and grey colors. They were mostly new longer length needed for shorter clothing. Most of the socks were cotton or cotton blended fabrics. Along with the long stockings were advertisements for stocking supporters.






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Created: May 20, 2000
Last updated: 6:33 AM 3/3/2009