Amercan Boyhood Clothes in the 1940s: Jack

I can offer not very original experiences of my yourh and clothes which you still might enjoy. I have several distinct memories of childhood clothes. I can remember--this was early 1940s. My pre -school years, e.g. when I wore a sailor suit, were early forties. I entered first grade in l945, so my more grown-up youth days were late 40's, e.g. when I was a cub. I was raised in the northeastern United States. We were a middle class family.

My brother and I at about 4 or 5 wore white sailors' suits in the summer made of cotton I believe. The blouses had blue square collars with a v-shaped opening for a dickey that featured an eagle design. I believe the blouses were attached to the short pants with buttons. We wore ankle socks with brown and white saddle shoes. I also wore about the same age, maybe younger, a stylish dark blue knee length winter coat with gold buttons. I believe we wore our sailor suits for several years, maybe from when I was four to six or so. My brother is two years younger than I. We did not wear caps with them, maybe a blue bow. I rather liked my sailor suit. We were always being told how cute we looked when we went out, so I guess I enjoyed the attention! We would wear them if we went shopping or to a nice restaurant or to visit our grandparents. My brother and I often dressed alike when we were younger and would be going out together. But as we got older I don't think we were paired as much.

I attended the local parish school. For beginning school years, maybe for one or two years, mid-40's, I wore above the knee short pants with long socks and a blue beanie. I have a picture of myself in the second grade (age 7) wearing a brown tweed suit, with jacket and matching short pants, but maybe at the knee by this time. I also wore knickers with stockings fastened with elastic bands, usually a white shirt, and a tie that clasped closed under my collar or a clip-on bow tie. I wore light material short knee length pants for most of my grade school in the summer. Two: I wore short shorts (above the knee) until I was in second grade. So maybe from the age of three of four until seven.

I was in the cub scouts for a couple of years -- late 40's. I wore the regular blue cubs outfit, blue shirt, short knee-length pants in the summer, long pants in the winter, with a yellow kerchief around my neck tied at the front. While I enjoyed Cub Scouts, did not continue on into Scoying.

After I was about 8 years old I wore knickers for a couple of years. I think they were either wool or gaberdine material. With long stockings,of course. Some boys I thnk wore long pants before I did, but I had no problems I recall wearing either short shorts or knickers.

I remember wearing knee length shorts for years in the summer time, until at least high school. Since we played mostly in the summertime, we wore knee length cotton shorts. We also wore gaberdine long pants.My brother played basketball in grade school, and he wore the short gym shorts of that time, not like the basketball pants of today, which look like boxer shorts on steroids! No, no jeans.

About socks. I wore knee socks when I was wearing the short shorts, but when I got older I wore short socks with my knee-length socks. Yes, I liked them very much, especially in the summer when my legs would get tanned brown at the seashore, and we could parade with our parents on the boardwalk in the evening after dinner, with our shorts and jackets. I also wore long socks when I was seventeen and was an exchange student for a summer in Germany. I wore long socks with the lederhosen I bought for myself, which were very short.
About caps. I mentioned my sailor cap above. I wore a beanie to first grade. I also had to wear one many years later as a freshman in college. We had to wear a beanie made of the school colors. It was quite nice actually, with the school shield on the front.

I took piano lessons as a boy, so that took a lot of my free time.

I remember one very special suit. I wore a white suit with above the knees pants for first communion. I wore white shoes. And I think in the second grade. I also had a tweed suit with jacket and above the knee pants.

As a boy I never had any feeling I recall about wanting long pants. As I say, I kept wearing knee length pants every summer.

Mutatis mutandi, in the late 60's and early 70's , here and vacationing in Europe, I wore very short shorts with knee high tube socks, and sport shoes or hiking boots. And, oh yes, I wore Bermuda shorts when they became popular in the late 50's when I was in college.


Figure 1.--

Christopher Wagner

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Chronologies] [Style Index] [Biographies] [Bibliographies] [Contributions] [Essays] [Frequently Asked Questions]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web chronological pages:
[The 1880s] [The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s]
[The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web style pages:
[Dresses] [Smocks] [Bodice kilts]
[Kilts] [Sailor suits] [Sailor hats]
[Ring bearer/page costumes] [Shortalls]

Created: June 30, 1998
Last updated: August 30, 1999