American Trends in Boys' Clothes in the Late 1990s

A HBC contributor in 1999 submitted an assessment of trends in boys clothing at the end of 1999. His assessment may give some indicators of boys clothing in the new melinium.

I coach Little League baseball and it is facinating to watch how styles have changed. I would like to add the following about boys clothes as the end of the 20th century approaches. This last year of the 1900's has boys clothing (in California at least), slowing gliding back to more conservative styles.

Short Pants

Cord shorts remain popular with the additon of the camp short style of pockets as well as the carpenter style with the loops on the side. Legnth is still over-the-knee but gradually climbing upward again from the mid-calf popularity of the last few years.


White crew socks are still the choice. Although most boys wear them slightly above the ankle, more and more are wearing them at full legnth (not pushed down slightly) and some are starting to wear longer styles that look like the longer tube socks of the 80's. Some boys playing basketball are wearing socks that are knee legnth with longer shorts that create a strange look overall.

Long Pants

Long pants are going back toward the preppy look. More and more boys (especially high schoolers) are wearing kaki's and cord pants that are less baggy and not as long as in past years. The camp short pocket styles are popular in both the kaki and cords. The preppy look of the 80's has not completly returned, but more and more button-up and polo shirts are showing up in the High Schools, whereas T shirts are still more popular with the Junior high set and below.


Also returning to populatity (again) are Puka shell necklaces. They were very popular in the 70's and are making a big comeback in the late 90's with younger boys. Earrings have all but disappeared on boys under High School age and the High schoolers that wear them now seem to favor having them on both ears, instead of just one.


Baseball caps are still extremely popular, but fewer and fewer kids wear them backwards or sideways anymore.


In summary, although boys clothes are still on the baggy side, the extemes of the last few years seem to be graduating to the sharper tapered looks of the 80's. Shorts are gradually getting shorter, but still remain very popular in California, although now quite as popular for year--round wear as boys seem to favor a dressier look, especially in the winter.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: October 12, 1999
Last updated: October 12, 1999