New Zealand Boys' Clothes: Chronologies--Early 20th Century

Figure 1.--These New Zeralands boys are playing marbles, The image is undated, but HBC would guess it was taken about 1910. Note the varied outfits from sailor suits to Eton collars. The boys are a bit better dressed than images I have seen of American boys playing marbles. The image is from Archives New Zealand (Ref: 1/1-010529; G).

New Zealand fashions continued to primarily follow British fashions. Most New Zealand families still maintained contacts with English relatives and English publications were widely followed, incliding fashion and sewing publications. Boys wore peaked caps to school. Younger boys might wear sailor hats and caps. Boys wore blouses with large collars. Most boys at the turn of the century generally wore kneepants or knickers with long dark stockings. By the 1910s, shortpants and knickers became more common. Sailor suits were very popular for primary school children and there were many different styles. Eton collars were often worn to school or for Sunday best. During the summer most boys went barefoot. Britain continued to be the primary focus of most New Zelanders and the dominance of English fashion was a reflection of this. World War I (1914-18) was, however, a sobering experiences. New Zealandes enthusiastically came to England's assistance, but the losses were horrendous. Memorials to the War dead dot virtually every New Zealand town and city. Some after the War began questioning their ties with Britain.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: February 7, 2002
Last updated: February 7, 2002