The union suits and combination suits discussed here were worn by American children. A good deal of information is availavle on the underwear worn by Ameeican children, especially beginning in the 1880s because of the popular mail order catalogs. We know less about the undewear worn by foreign children, in part because mail order catalogs came to Europe later than America. A French reader tells us that French children did not use the elaborate suspender waists to hold up their stockings. Rather underwear and blouses came with buttons. These could be use bth to keep up stockings and pants, a style known as the button-on style. Untill about 1955 these models of undervests (undershirts) were used for children of both gender. Blouses with waist buttons were made longer than is the case today.
The union suits and combination suits discussed here were worn by American children. A good deal of information is availavle on the underwear worn by Ameeican children, especially beginning in the 1880s because of the popular mail order catalogs. A 1923 Montgomery Wards mail order catalog shows the varied styles of combination suits available for boys and girls in 1923. I am not sure at tis time if there were actual differences between a combinatin suit and a union suit or if they were just different terms for the same garment. A HBC reader writes, "I think the combination suit was very specific. It combined the union suit with a hose supporter or waist supporter that we saw earlier. In 1915 Stewart's catalogue there is a reference to a combination suit but it is called an "alheneeds" it was for younger boys as listed in the site. Notice it was also for summer when the extra layer of a waist to hold up stockings would be very hot!" We note changes in American underwear styles after World War, to adapt to changes in juvenile clothing such as short pants. American children for many years wore support garments years to hold up various garments, especially long stockings. These were different support garments worn in America and Europe.
Canadian children wore underwear very similar to American children. Here the underwear seems much more similar to American than English or French styles. This seems in part because of the importance of American clothing styles as well as American mailorder catalogs and publications. The underwars styles offered in Eatons and other Canadian catalogs seems vurtually identical to American catalogs, perhaps with a somewhat heavier emphasis on warm Winter underwear.
A HBC contributor remembers the trips to visit his grandmother, especially at Christmas. He tells us, "On these trips to my grandparents, grandmother always helped my mum out by buying us new socks and underwear. The latter of which we found "old-fashioned"
being white cotton briefs and singlets while we were used to wearing coloured briefs and t-shirts for vests. She also ALWAYS gave us gloves and "bobble-hats" for Christmas!" [Bill]
A French reader tells us that French children did not use the elaborate suspender waists to hold up their stockings. Rather underwear and blouses came with buttons. These could be use bth to keep up stockings and pants, a style known as the button-on style. Untill about 1955 these models of undervests (undershirts) were used for children of both gender. Blouses with waist buttons were made longer than is the case today. A reader tells us, "In France there were less choices than in America. All the children had the same models. The big, very short white underpants were the most worn by the city's boy begunning in the 1930s. They were elasticated at the waist or buttoned at the under shirt." Another French reade reports, "Personaly I don't remember wearing this sort of undervest, but I did wear blouses with romper bottoms and later short pants and I rember that my blouses came with waist buttons which were used to keep up my pants. For France, I will develop this topic on three ways: - Baby from 1900 till today; Toddlers " "; and = Older boys " " . I will comment with some extract of catalogue or magazine. All the boy of France were wearing the same underwear. One can classify in three sorts : - City boys; - Country boys; and - Boys with particular attentive mother, of which were rather knited. It was the case for me, but not for my brother and sister."
We have very limited information on German boys' underwear at this time. A French reader writes, "
I didn't know what exactly the German boys were wearing before World War II. After the War, the underwear worn by German boys was like that worn by rural boys in France. We called caleçon court. French city boys rediculed this garment. When I was teanager all my German and Austrian friends wore underwear almost alike the French ones." German boys wore long stockings more than French children. Thus stocking supportetrs were a more important aspect of underwear in German than in France. Here the Leibchen was particularly important.
We know very little about Italian underwear, primarily because we have few Italian catalogs which is one of the better sources of information about underwear. We have some limited information because Italy was a reltively poor country, especilly southern Italy. Children did not have large wardrobes. For many wirking-class children, a few basic garments made do, especially in the hot summer weather. We sometimes see Italian children wearing underwear instead of swim suits or during the hot summer weather just waring their underwear. We see quite a number of boys wearing underwear singlets with short pants. This was fairly common until after World War II when the country as part of the Common Market/European Union began to develop a more economy and even the working class began to achieve a degree of affluence. Hopefully our Italian readers will provide cus some information about undewear.
We do not know much about Japanese underwear. We are not sure whst kind of undershirt if any was traditionlly worn in Japan. Undershirts in the 20th century were commonly the singlet-style undershirt. We are not sure about the Japanese term. After World War II, especially by the 1960s we see T-shirts being worn. Traditional male underwear pants are called fundoshi. Until World War II, the fundoshi was the standard form of male underpants. There are several types of fundoshi, including: rokushaku, kuroneko, mokko and etchū. After World War II the Fundoshi rapidky went out of style as Western-style s briefs and trunks began to be worn. The shift was slower in more traditioinal rural areas. We are not sure wehat was most popular for boys, but we think briefs. The traditional fundoshi has not entirely disappeared. It is still worn today as festival (matsuri) clothing or occassionally as swimwear.
We know very little about Swedish underwear at this time. We suspect that trends in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia were very similar to those in Germany.
A Swiss reader tells us about the underwear he wore as a boy. He grew up in a small mountain village. He was a little embarassed when he began boarding school because the cities boys had more modern underwear.
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