Long Pants Suits


Figure 1.--Suits looking quite modern appeared in the 1850s. They were normally worn with long pants. This English boy was photogrphed in 1858. Note how he wears his belt over his jacket. Boys had worn tunics in this style earlier in the century.

Boys since the introduction of sailor suits and skeleton suits in the 18th Century have worn long trouser suits. Long trouser suits of various forms were common in the early and mid-19th Century. Boys at the beginning of the 19th century might wear a lace collared tunic over long trousers before graduating to a proper suit. After mid-Century knee pants became more common. American catalogs in the 1880s tended to show knee pants suits through 12 years of age and long pants suit begining at 10 years of age. By the end of the Century boys it was increasingly common for teenagers to be dressed in knee pants suits. Many boys might spend many of their teen years in knee pants. This varid greatly from family to family, but for teenage boys in knee pants, receiving their first long pants suit became a major rite of passage. This situation was commom in America, England, and Europe up to the First World War. After the war, fashion standards became much more diverse.

Chronology

Boys and men wore knee breeches in the 18th century. Only laborers and farm laborers wore long pants or troyusers and sailor wore long pantaloons. People of quality looked down on such people. The French referred to them as the sand cullotes or those without short pants, meaning knee breeches. Only at the end of the century did boys from affluent families begin to wear long trousers in the new skeleton suit style. Interestingly, boys began wearing short pabnts suits years before their fathers. Boys since the introduction of skeleton suits in the late the 18th Century have worn long trouser suits. The skeleton suit with long trousers was the most stylish fashions for boys in the early 19th century. For years, however, their fathers refused to wear them. It was not until the 1820s that gentlemen began wearing long trousers. Long trouser suits of various forms were common in the early and mid-19th Century. Boys at the beginning of the 19th century might wear a lace collared tunic over long trousers before graduating to a proper suit. After mid-Century knee pants became more common. American catalogs in the 1880s tended to show knee pants suits through 12 years of age and long pants suit begining at 10 years of age. By the end of the Century boys it was increasingly common for teenagers to be dressed in knee pants suits. Many boys might spend many of their teen years in knee pants. This varid greatly from family to family, but for teenage boys in knee pants, receiving their first long pants suit became a major rite of passage. Reserving long pants for older boys and men remained a common convention in America, England, and Europe up to the First World War. After the war, fashion standards became much more diverse. American boys commonly wore knickers, but increasingly younger boys began wearing long pants. The conventions in Europe varied widely from country to country and family to family, but usually boys throughout Europe did not get long pants suits until an older age than was the case in America. Did this not begin to change in many cases until the 1960s. Boys around he world mostly wore long pnts suits. There were a few exceptions. Short pants suits were sometimes worn for formal occassioins like weddings. Some schools had short pants suits for school uniforms. Younger Japanrse boys moght wear short pnts suits when they began school. For the most part, howeve, boys wore long pants suits. Boys did not, however, very commonly wear suits.

Cut

The cut of the trousers worn with suits varied over time. In the mid 19th century we note a rather full cuts in the mid-19th century. A good example is an American boy, Ollie Vail, in the 1860s. By the lte 19th century trousers were worn with a very trim cut.

Creases


Matching

Wev note both matching trousers and trousers in a different colors during the mid-19th century. The contrasting colors were especially common in the nid-19th century. Note Swiss boys in 1840 wearing black jackets and light-colored pnts in 1840. Most daguerreotypes from the 1840s and 1850s show boys wearing different colored jackets and pants. This changed very quickly in the 1860s. Most 1860s portraits show boys wearing matching jackets and suits. A good example is Charles J.J. Carter. By the late 19th century the trousers almost always matched the jacket.

Closures

Boys' pants or trousers through the 1950s commonly had had button closures. The BFGoodrich Co. in 1924 registered the name "zipper," although it would be a number of years before this closure was used in any apparel other than overshoes, it would eventually repace buttons. Eventually vitually all pants would have zipper rather than button closures. Even after the zipper became popular, hiwever, better made suits for men and boys still continued to be made with buttons.


Figure 2.--American boys in the 1920s mostly wore knickers suits, but quite a number of boys also wore long pants suits.

National Styles

There was great similarity with the styling of suit jackets from country to country. For some reasoin there was more differentition with the pants worn with these jackets. These differences varied over time. At times the pants or trousers were quite similar. At other times there were substantial differences. There seems to be substantial similarity in the mid-19th century. By the turn of the 20h century we see many European boys wearing bloomer knickers wjile American boys commonly wore knee pants. Even older American boys wore knee pants which was not very common in Europe. By the 1930s boys in America often wore knickers while short onts were more common. By the 1o50s American boys usually wore long pants hile short pants were common in Ameica, By the 1960s long pants had begin to become common in Europe as well.










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Created: October 15, 1998
Last edited: 3:45 AM 11/22/2007