A popular styles for boys in the 1920s-40s was button on short pants. They were shorts with button holes at the waist. They were worn with blouses or shirts that had buttons at the waist that fitted into the button holes of the shorts. They could thus be worn without belts. They were mostly worn by younger boys, but boys of up to about 10 years of age wore them. They were made in both casual play styles and fancy suits for formal occasions. While the casual styles are no longer worn, some formal suits for weddings and other dress up occasions are still worn.
Our chronological information on button styles is still limited. They seem to have appeared soon after short pants began to replace keepants, proably in the 1910s. They were very commonly worn by boys during the 1920s-30s, but since the 1950s have become less common.
A popular styles for boys in the 1920s-40s was button on short pants. HBC does not have precise information on the chronology of button-on shorts. The 1920s-40s appears to be the era in which they were most common and worn by boys of up to about 10 years of age, but this requires futher reserch. They were very commonly worn as play suits as also as schools clothes by boys up to 10 years of age. They were also worn as dresswear. A good example is Jack, an American boy in 1930.
Button-on shorts are generally associated with 1920s-40s play suits. By the 1950s they were much less common for school age boys, but continued to be worn by younger boys. The button-on suit, however, has never completely disappeared from the younger boys' wardrobe. The nature of the style has changed. It has become a less common play style. Button-on shorts, however, are now worn as a younger boy's dress suit for formal occasions--now more commonly with saddle shoes rather than sandals.
HBC at this time primarily has information on button-on shorts in America. Few details on other countrues are yet avialble, but we have begun to dd some information. Button-on shorts were worn throughout Europe. We notice pre-school boyswearing button-on shoerts in England. We know that they were worn in other countries, inckudung Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. HBC does believe that the style was also worn in Europe. A Swiss reader informs HBC that this style was also popular in Switzerland up to years 1950-1955, some of his class mates were dressed like that even 14-15 years old. These shorts of cotton serge were worn with kind of a summer shirt of same material and style forming so to say a one piece garment. Conventions and styles seem fairly strandard throughout Europe. We note some destinctive styles as well as oldr ptrimary boys wearing button-on shorts in America.
Bitton-on shorts with button holes at the waist. They required especially made button on shirts and blouses. They were worn with blouses or shirts that had buttons at the waist that fitted into the button holes of the shorts. They could thus be worn without belts. At the time they were often worn as play suits.
Button-on shorts and other button-on garments are styles that have primarily been worn by younger boys. The actual ages, however, have varied over timr and we still have incomplete information about the ages at which button-on styles were worn over time. Nor do we have information about age trends in different countries. They were mostly worn by younger boys. We note that in America during the 1930s and 40s that button-onnstyles were worn by boys up to about 10 years of age. Even older girls have worn button-on styles. In the 1050s, the age of boys wearing button-on styles declined. They are now worn mostly by pre-school children. Some boys up to about 7 years of age might wear a dressy button-on shorts for formal occasions.
I'm not sure how popular they were with boys. Often boys don't like buttons to fuss with. The style may have been seen as one for younger boys--another aspect that boys may have disliked about them.
Button-on shorts were made in both casual play styles and fancy suits for formal occasions. While the casual styles are no longer worn, some formal suits for weddings and other dress up occasions are still worn.
One style of shorts popular in the 1920s-40s was "button-on" shorts. This is where the shorts have buttons on them and the shirts have eyelets so as the pants can be buttoned to the shirt. It was much the same idea as the skeleton suit of the early 19th Century. Little boys have very slender waists which means there is nothing to keep their pants on. Buttoning the shorts on to the shirt held them up. Another alternative for little boys was suspender shorts.
Button on suits were one of the many styles of clothing that developed for boys beginning in the 1910s as fewer and fewer boys wore dresses when they were younger. The button-on suits might be matching or coordinated blouses and pants. The pants were held on by buttons at the waist of the blouse that fitted into button holes in the pants. Young boys are very active and with their slender waists, keeping up their pants could be quite a proble. It was these buttons that conveniently kept the pants up rather than suspender arrangements or belts.
There were two types of self-belted shorts. We note some self-belted shorts done in the button-on style. A factor here is age. The button-on self belted shorts were primarily for younger boys, although we have notec them for boys up to ae 10 years. This is mentioned in period catalogs, but it is difficult to tell in actual photographs as the belt covers up the buttons. The shorts I had in 1954 just had the belt, but the ones done earlier for younger boys often were button-on shorts, the belt being decorative more than functional.
Button-on clohing was no exclisively for boys. While button-on shorts for boys seems to be the most common harment, there also have been button-on skirts for girls. We are less sure about when button-on clothing was first made for girls or how common it was. We do not have information on button-on clothes in different countries. Nor de we know a great deal about what age levels it was designed form, but believe that older gierls than boys wore button-on clothes.
HBC is most familiar with American boys wearing button-on shorts. This does not mean, however, that the style was most prevalent in the United States. Like other styles including suspender pants, HBC's greater access to American sources may give a misleading view. We do infact believe that button-on styles were widely worn in many European countries, but at this time have few details on which countries and the styles and chronologies involved in these countrues.
Button-on garments used to be made by several companies. Today now that button-on styles are less common, only a few companies are involved. The most common source is now patterns rather than ready-made clothes. Two important providers are Ginger Snaps and Chery Williams.
Button-on short pants are probably the most common button-on garments. They were, however, not the only such garments. There were button blouses and shirts to be worn with the shorts. There were also button-on long pants, but less commonly knickers. There were also button-on suits, but this term was commonly used for a dressy set of button on blouses and shorts without a coat. There were also button-on long stockings. There were also garments for girls like button-on shirts.
Personal accounts provide fascinating insights on fashions and fashion trends.
United States: The 1940s
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