Boys Knitted Wear: Garments



Figure 1.--Not all knitted wear was for cold weather. This German clothing catalog advertizes a knitted sweater and suspender shorts set in sizes 80-92 cm, but I'm not sure what is being measured--perhaps the boy's height. A HBC reader confirms that it is the boy's height.

Knitted clothes were especially popular for cold weather wear. Sweaters we especially popular. There were also cold weather snow or winter suits for bots and girls. In adittiion rgere were a variety of cold weather accessories such as mittens and scarves. There were a variety of knitted caps, some especially suitable for winter. Others like tams could be worn all winter long.Knitted socks were primarily wool socks for winter wear. We noted short pants outfits that could be worn even during the summer, but were also worn in the winter as well. Knit suits were popular for younger boys. These were not suits in the formal scene, of jacket and trousers. Rather they were matched tops and bottoms. Usually a sweater lile garment matched with knitted short or long pants. These were similar to snow suits, except the knit was much more tightly done and not so bulky. There were special winter rompers that were knitted with long sleeves. Boys through the 1940s in some counries, might have knitted bathing suits. We have collected the following details on the type of knitted wear available for boys.

Tams

Floppy Tam O'Shanter caps were knitted, appearing in the late 19th century. HBC has realtively little information about the Tam O'Shanter. I am not sure, for example, even with basic information about it such as why the Tam O'Shanter was named after Burns' hero. We do not know if tge cap already existed amd was renamed the Tam O-Shanter or if it was a new style. There are many different sizes of Tam O-Shanter or tams and stlistic variations such as the inclusion of a pom on the top. We have noted tams in a variety of colors, including blue, brown, and red. This color information, however, comes from colorized photographs, lithographs, and paintings. We are not sure just what colors the tams worn by actual boys were. HBC at this time has only limited information on the extent to which the tam was worn in various countries. The Tam O'Shanter is commonly associated with Scottish dress.

Stocking Caps

These stocking caps were similar to watch caps. Some were basic stocking caps with poms. The caps for boys and girls could be mase with elogated crowns and poms. Some had ear flaps, but these weree nore popular for boys than girls. Bright designs and colors were also popular. Some of the caps were made singely. Others were made to match or coordinate with sweaters and or snow suits. Many snow suit patterns came with patterns for matching caps. BNoth boys and girls might wear caps with loud patterns and bright colors.

Balaclavas

Whike both boys and girls might swear stocking caps with poms, the knitted balaclavas were a destinctly boys style. Some boys wore therm to school, although to my knowledge they were not an official part of any school uniform. The style was adopted for boys from the warm weather gear worn by British soldiers in the Crimean war.

Baby Suits

Warm baby suits for the winter appeared in the late 19th Century. many appeared in knee-length styles. One piece suits were popular for babies in the 20th century.

Sweaters

By far the most popular knitted garment for boys were sweaters ("jumpers" in Britspeak). Sweaters were made for boys of all age groups. British boys often could not wear knitted sweaters to school as there were often school uniforms. American boys, however, did wear them to school. A sweater is a knitted jacket or jersey worn by adults and children. The term derives from a garment originally worn by adults during erercising to induce sweating and reduce weight or for warmth. Sweaters have commonly been worn by European and American boys for several centuries. They are generally made in pullover or cardigan style, with or without sleves. Sweaters were initialy knitted from wool, but now synthetic fibers are also commonly worn.

Knit Suits

Knit suits were popular for younger boys. These were not suits in the formal scene, of jacket and trousers. Rather they were matched tops and bottoms. Usually a sweater lile garment matched with knitted short or long pants. These were similar to snow suits, except the knit was much more tightly done and not so bulky. Also short pants styles were common for these suits.

Snow or Winter Suits

The snow suit was generally a two piece garment of matching long-sleeve tops and long pants bottom. Very young children might wear one-piece outfits, but the two pice styles were wore common. Many suits came with matching mittems and caps. These snow suits were made in a great variety of styles, colors, and knits. They could generally be worn by boys or girls. In fact some knitting magazines showed brother-sister outfits. Often the only difference being the boys' and girls' suits was the choice of hat--sort of a tie-on bonnet for girls and a "toque" or balaclava for boys. Color may have been another factor. Boys seem to have worn these suits up to about age 8 years. The choice of models suggest that for the older sizes, these suits were more common for girls. One reader reports that often girls were used for modeling knitted suits. We are not precisely sure why that was. The popularity of these knitted snow suits varied from country to country.

Romper Suits

A variety of one piece romers or other outfits for small boys were often knitted by adoring mothers and other femal relatives. These garments were made for only very young boys. There were both winter and summer romperts. It was the winter rompers that generally knitted. Both had puff romper bottoms, but the knitted winter rompers had long sleeves. Most of the romper images we have archived from France are summer rompers, but we have some images of American rompers with long sleeves.

Short Pants

Although sweaters were the more common garment, pants were also knitted. Almost always these were short pants. The most common knitted short pants were those made for toddler boys. But some knitted shorts were also mase for sizes up to about 8 years. Knitted shorts for older boys were much less common. In part this was because of the complications of adding a fly. The sinple styles usually without pockets and belt loops were only suitable for younger boys.

Socks

Knitted socks were primarily wool socks for winter wear. They were done in many colors and patterns. This reduced there usefulness in England where the schools generally insisted on grey kneesocks and the boys generally preferred them.

Other

Many other warm weather garments such as mittens, muffs, and scarves were also knitted. HBC has not yet pursued this topic, but it is one project for future attention.

Bathing Suits

Boys through the 1940s in some counries, might have knitted bathing suits. They do not, however, appear to have been very popuar with boys. One French, Jacques, reader who had a knitted bathing suit did not like it at all.

Underwear

Long underwear in the 19th century was often knitted. Such garments were often necessary, especially in the 19th century in rural areas.








Christopher Wagner





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Created: January 28, 2003
Last updated: February 4, 2003