Uniforms for Boys


Figure 1.--British cub uniforms have changed little over the past 50 years, except for the length of the shorts. Many British cubs now wear long pants.

Uniforms date back to ancient times. We have little information about boys wearing We notice some boys wearing uniforms in historic times. Boys have been part of military forces since ancient times and thus must have worn uniforms. Many but not all of these uniforms were military unnforms. Boys also wore costumes as part of religious services. Here we have little information. Boys since the 19th century have worn various types of uniforms. The idea of wearing uniforms have varied greatly in popularity in different historical periods. Uniformks were very popular with boys at the turn of the 20th century. The idea bof wearing a uniform has become much less popular with most boys by the end of the century. Here we have information on the various types of uinorms that boys have worn and trends in different countries.

Uniform Types

Boys have worn various types of uniforms. School abd youth group uniforms have been the most common. We have noted, however, several other types of uniforms, including band and institutionl (other than schools), military, and sports uniforms. Boys have also worn various uniform costumes.

Band Uniforms

Band often were organized with destinctive uniforms. Modern bands are mostly associated with schools. This was not so common at the turn of the 20th century. This is rather a mixed category. Some are essentially youth groups. In fact various youth group units organized bands. Sometimes, however, adults were involved. There are also some specialized styles such as pipe bands.

Institutional Uniforms

Institutions caring for children have often required destinctive dress. In some case this has meant uniforms. In others instances institutiins have been less demanding dress codes. Interestingly uniforms were first adopted by charity institutions in part to identify the children receiving charity. The first English school uniforms, for example, were for the famed hospital schools which at first were for charity children. Only later did exclusive private schools adopt uniforms, with some resisance from the boys. This was part of a program to bring a modicum of dicipline to unruly students, in this case students from affluent families. Paradoxically the uniforms eventually served to identify the status of students from prestigious schools.

Military Uniforms

Military uniforms have had an important impact on boys clothes. Often there were differences between what the parents, especially the mother, wanted their sons to wear and what the boys themselves wanted to wear. The use of military styles for boys appears to have bridged that gap, at least until the mid-20th century when sailor suits became associated with very young children or even girls--making them unacceptable to most boys. Some sstyles like sailor suits were actual military styles. Other non-military styles had elements like double breasted styling or epeletes that were inspired by military uniforms.

Religious costumes

Boys also wore costumes as part of religious services. Here we have little information, but from an early point of Christian history boys seved as altar boys.

Sports Uniforms

Some of the most popular clothing worn by boys are sports uniforms. Organized sport for boys is a relatively recent phenomenon. Many modern sports have a history dating back to the 18th century or ealier. Organized professional teams attracting spectators and with uniformed players, however, did not appear until the 19th century. This was in part a result of the economic expansion of industrial Europe which generated increasing income and more leisure time. School teams began to be organized by British private schools after the mid-19th century. But organized youth sports for the most part are a 20th century development.

Youth Groups

Modern youth groups first appeared in the late-19th century as social leaders attempted to channel the energies of young people in the new developing industrial economies of Europe and America. Never before had young people had so much money. Families had moved from ancestrial homes to the growing impersonal cities. Crime was increasing. Centuries old social restraints were crumbling. Government an community leaders pondered what to do. The answer was the formation of youth groups to chanel the boundless energies of the young people in the new industrial societies of Western Europe. In this new movement, England led the way.

Play Costumes

Military uniforms were also extremely popular during World War II. I have a book called Everyday Fashions in the 1940s has pages taken from Sears and other clothing catalogs. One page is just reproductions of military uniforms (all services) for your little boy to wear (presumably in support of his dad or uncles who were in the service).

Chronology

Uniforms date back to ancient times. We have little information about boys wearing We notice some boys wearing uniforms in historic times. Boys have been part of military forces since ancient times and thus must have worn uniforms. Many but not all of these uniforms were military unnforms. Boys also wore costumes as part of religious services. Here we have little information, but from an early point of Christian history boys seved as altar boys. We also notice boys wearing school uniforms. One early example were the blue uniforms worn by boys in English grammar schools. Only with the 19th cerntury and the invention of photography do we have more detailed information about uniforms worn by boys. We begin to see youth groups in the late-19th century. Uniforms became much more common in the 20th century, espcially school and youth group uniforms. Military service and uniforms became less common, at least in dveloped countrues. Many boys also wore sports unifoms as scholastic and other youth sports became increasingly popular. Nationalistic fervor seems to have inceased the popularity of uniforms. The totalitarian states that came to power in the early 20th century also promoted the popularity of uniforms. Except for sports unifirms, poularity declined after World War II. Youth groups now give much less atention to uniforms. They are less popular today with the boys and have thus become a less important part of the program. American schools which mostly did niot have uniforms began to rethink this. First the prochial schools began to impplenent uniforms (950s) and then many public chool system, especially schools in urban areas (1970s). We also notice play outfits that include uniform costumes beginning in the 1900s.

Countries

We notice boys in many different countries earing uniforms. Boys over time have worn a variety of uniforms. These have included institutional, military, school, youth group, and other uniforms. This has varied from country to country, bith over time and along with the popularity of uniforms. We are developing uniform pages for each country. At this time we are working in America, England, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Uniforms were more popular in sime counries than others. The military was sometimes, but not always rhge deciding factor, The British seemed to have admired uniforms. We nnote the popularity varying over time with many countries affected by the same trends. Political shifts have affected these trends such as the rise oand fall of Cimminism and Fascism in diffeent countries. Economomic factors also affected various countries. Poor countfies were less able to finance unifirms for children. We hope to develop pther country pages as HBC develops. We have a good deal of information on uniforms worn in different countries, but we have often not created country pages to tie the various pages together on a national basis.








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Created: December 5, 1999
Last updated: 12:35 AM 11/4/2013