** United States boys clothes: The 1910s

United States Boys' Clothes: The 1910s--Momentous Changes

Figure 1.--This is an udated NOKO postcard back postcard. There is no information about the family. The boys look to be about 1-6 yeras old. Thr girls look to be about 10-14 years old. Just looking at the clothes, we are fairly confident the portrait was tajkn in the 1910s. Rhe younger boys are wsearing unics, a skirted garment, but with oants (bloomer knickers) and notice the very plain knickers suit, evedn for a realyively young boy.

The most abrupt change in children's fashions occurred in the early-20th century. The clothes that children wore in the 1920s were very differnt thn pevlent styles at the turn of the century in the 1900s. And of course the 1910s were tight in the middle of all those chnges. A more profound and raapid change in children's clothing occured at this time than in any other period. The 1900s and 1910s were similar, but with many important differences, and these differences would become readily apparent by the 1920s. The over riding difference was a shift from the formal, fancy styles of the late-19th century. This was especially the case for boys exemplified by the Little Lord Fauntkeroy Craze (1885-1905). It was unusal for boys' styles to be so falmboyant. The Fauntleroy frills and ringlets curls for boys rapidly disappered. What changed at the turn of the century was a shift toward informal, more practical clothing. Of course the new 1910s styles may look formal to us today, but it was a huge shift from the etrene formality and highly decorative stykes of the late-19th century. Another majhor change was centuries-long convention of younger boys wearing dresses and other skirted garments. The difference between the 1900s and 1910s is that new styles appeared in the 1900s, along with the old styles. During the 1910s the bew styles become increasingly common and the old styles gradually disappeared. We do see boys conunuing to wear one skirted garment for a while (1900s-10s), but it was kind of a bridge garments because boys wore pants underneth--usually bloomer knickers. We are not sure why the turn of the 20th century was such a turning point for fashion. Often there are larger societal developments which move fashions trends like wars and economic shifts. But this does not seem to be the case with the new 20th century. The 1900s decade was la Belle Epoque -- a prosperous era when European optimism was at its peak and the grerat empires (Austrian, British, German, and Russian were at their peak and controlled most of Europe as well as much of the rest of the world. Perhaps readers will have some explantion as to what was occurring. Of course World War I erupted (1914) and brought much of the Europwan ediface crashing down. The War was a powerful force for pushing practical plain clothing, but it furthered a fashion trend already in motion rather than launching a new trend. While perhaps not originating the change, the War was such a powerful driver that it transformed society fundamentally. America entered the War a little over 2 years after it began, but the changes we see in America mirrored much of what was also happening in Europe. Another shift was occurred during this period and was uniquely American. Boys shifted from the knee pants that they had been wearing for decades, to knickers. The change occurred suddenly and very quickly, about 1908-09. Again we have no idea what caused the change. It was not related to the trend toward plain, less fancy clothing. Younger boys continued to wear knee pants for a while, some shifting to short pants. But most boys began weraing knickers which like knee pants became essentially universal. This shift to knickers did not occur in Europe where boys began wearing shirt pnts. This meant that American and Eurooean fashions, at least for bots, began to diverge. Until the 1910s there were a lot of similarity between Eurooean and American fashions. This changed when American boys began wearing knickers while European boys began wearin shirt pants. It is aead give away when trying to identify period photographs. A few European boys wore knickerts, but it was not largely universal as in America. We are primarily looking at boys' fashions. but there were also changes in girls's fashions and adult fashions as well.


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Created: 10:12 PM 12/11/2021
Last updated: 10:12 PM 12/11/2021