Short Pants Suits: Chronology


Figure 1.--This imanfe appeared in a fashion magagizine about 1998. By this time short pants suits were rarely worn in America or Europe--but suits like this were worn in Japan. Click on the image for an assessment.

We note short pants in te 19th century, but they were not very common. Short pants suits began to appear in England during the 1910s and had generally replaced knickers by World War I (1914-18). Few Ebglish boys wore knickers by the 1920s. The chronological pattern differed by country. Knickers continued to be more popular in America, much more popular than short pants suits. Shorts were most popular with boys from affluent families. This social divide was not as pronounced in Europe. The pattern in Europe was more similar to England and by the 1920s, short pants suits were common throughout Europe. Almost all younger boys wore them and even some older boys. Boys as old as 15 or 16 years might wear them. In many countries, knickers continued to be worn by older boys or for cold weather wear. They were the primary outfit for boys throughout the inter-war period. After World War II (1939-45) shorts pants suits were still commonly worn in Europe, sometimes by quite old boys--perhaps reflecting the difficult economic conditions. In Anerican they were mostly wirn wby younger boys. By the 1960s, however, short pants suits began to decline in popularity even in Europe. One exception was japan where boys continued to wear them. Boys by the 1970s were no longer commonly wearing short pants suits, although some were worn as school uniform. They weremhowever, occasionally seen in fashion magazines.

19th Century

Most boys in the 19th century wore long pants. They were almost universal unil the mid 19th century. And even then we shortened pants suits only for younger boys in fashionable city families. The shotened pants worn were mostly bloomer knckers or knee panys. Some younger boys wore short pants in the late 19th century, but they were not very common. Much more common for boys were kneepants or knicker suits. Even then, long pants were most common, except for younger boys until the 1890s. Then knee pants became very common for American boys. The situation in Europe was more complivated.

20th Century

The short pants suit was a garment of the 20th century. It dominated European boyswear in Europe and was also worn in America. Short pants suit were most commonly in the first half of the century. Short pants suits began to appear in England during the 1910s and had generally replaced knickers by World War I (1914-18). Few Ebglish boys wore knickers by the 1920s. The chronological pattern differed by country. Knickers continued to be more popular in America, much more popular than short pants suits. Shorts were most popular with boys from affluent families. This social divide was not as pronounced in Europe. The pattern in Europe was more similar to England and by the 1920s, short pants suits were common throughout Europe. Almost all younger boys wore them and even some older boys. Boys as old as 15 or 16 years might wear them. In many countries, knickers continued to be worn by older boys or for cold weather wear. They were the primary outfit for boys throughout the inter-war period. After World War II (1939-45) shorts pants suits were still commonly worn in Europe, sometimes by quite old boys--perhaps reflecting the difficult economic conditions. In Anerican they were mostly wirn wby younger boys. By the 1960s, however, short pants suits began to decline in popularity even in Europe. One exception was japan where boys continued to wear them. Boys by the 1970s were no longer commonly wearing short pants suits, although some were worn as school uniform. They weremhowever, occasionally seen in fashion magazines.

The 21st Century

HBC does not yet have information to assess frashion trends in the 21st century.








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Created: November 29, 2000
Last edited: 4:09 AM 10/13/2007