Short Pants/Trousers: Country Trends


Figure 1.--Not all Japanese schools require uniforms, but quite a number do have basic uniforms. One of the most common is white shirts and blouses with short pants and skirts. Often the girls wear suspender skirts, but for some reason the boys rarely wear suspender shorts.

Conventions for wearing short pants varied greatly from country to country since they were introduced for boys in turn of the Century England. They rapidly became popular in Europe, undoubtedly affected by the rapidly expanding Boy Scout movement. Shorts were not popular every where. Most American, boys, except for the youngest didn't really like them and most American boys, even Scouts, wore knickers instead. They were widely, however, in most countries even outside Europe, with a few exceptions. They were not popular in Latin America or in countries like Russia with cold climates. They were continued to widely worn in Europe until well after World War II. As shorts declined in popularity in many European countries, they became increasingly popular in America, but as warm weather casual clothing and not as a part of a suit or other dressy outfit. While it is relatively easy to identify trends in various countries, much more complicated is assessing why these differences existed and persisted over time. These differences may to an extent reflect hapanstance, but we believe that a range of cultural factors are also incvolved. HBC has collected an archive of personal accounts from various countries. Some of these reoprts include the experiences of boys with short pants. Many of our personal accounts come from America, Enggland, France, and Germany, but we have accounts from other countries as well.

Individual Countries

Conventions for wearing short pants varied greatly from country to country since they were introduced for boys in turn of the Century England. They rapidly became popular in Europe. Short pants were widely worn in England, France, Germany, Italy and many other European countries. Knee pants were already very common. A factor with the popularity of short pants was the rapidly expanding Boy Scout movement. Shorts were not popular every where. Most American, boys, except for the youngest didn't really like them and most American boys, even Scouts, wore knickers instead. They were widely, however, in most countries even outside Europe, with a few exceptions. They were not popular in Latin America or in countries like Russia with cold climates. They were continued to widely worn in Europe until well after World War II. As shorts declined in popularity in many European countries, they became increasingly popular in America, but as warm weather casual clothing and not as a part of a suit or other dressy outfit. We have a great deal of information on some countries, but know very little about many other countries.

Cause of Differences

While it is relatively easy to identify trends in various countries, much more complicated is assessing why these differences existed and persisted over time. These differences may to an extent reflect hapanstance, but we believe that a range of cultural factors are also incvolved. A Canadian reader writes, "The quetion I ask myself is this one. Why Russian, German, Polish , Czeck boys were still in short pants instead of wearing long one as it was in America at the same time ? Do you have an answer to this crucial question ? Lack of material for making long pants ? Because long stockings were identified to childhood and because in USSR there was a cult for children ? Are the children from the country allowed to wear overalls? Is a quality like Levy's lacking ? I believe that in America WWII brought radical changes in clothing while children were allowed to dress like adults. With mainly cinema where we went to look at cowboys films, we identify to some virile and MANLY heroes dressed like soldiers in the new frontier. Jeans were a kind of outfit for the bad and the ugly , not for a gentle boy succeeding at school, this future egghead recruted among "bourgeoisie". I remember how playing with toy guns were our main play on streets and parks."

Personal Experiences

HBC has collected an archive of personal accounts from various countries. Some of these reoprts include the experiences of boys with short pants. Many of our personal accounts come from America, Enggland, France, and Germany, but we have accounts from other countries as well. Some of these accounts include the following.








HBC





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Created: March 16, 2000
Last updated: 6:50 PM 6/2/2007