United States Boys' Garments: Long Pants--Demographics

Figure 1.--This is a rare outdoor tin-type. Most tin-types were studio portraits. It is not dated, but looks like the 1870s or 80s to us. We do not know where it was taken, but it is clearly a rural imahe. Notice the boys wearing rounded-crown hats and long pants. Notice the boy in front wears a vest without a jacket. That was something you do not see in period studio portraits. Also note that noone is wearing overalls.

Long pants were common in rural areas than breeches even before this fashion shift was made in the towns during the early 19th century. Long pants were particularly prevalent on the frontier. We begin to see different kinds of shortened-length pants appearing in the United States during the mid-19th century. Suits with shortened-length pants were mostly worn by younger boys from fashionalble Eastern cities. Long pants continued to be more common in rural areas throughout the 19th century, except the very end of the decade. Shortened-length pants were for boys from affluent city families influenced by European fashion. This did not begin to chabnge until the very late-19th century when knee pants became nearly universal for American boys. Even teenagers wore them. Rural boys also wore them, although perhaps not such old boys. Here social class was a factor. Rural America was not as propsperous as urban America. And boys tended to quit school at an earlier age than in the city. We see rural boys wearing knee pants in the early 20th century, but during the 1900s, overalls appear. This can be seen very clearly in school phhotography. Overalls very quickly became very widely worn in rural areas. If mnot wearing overalls, some younger boys in rural areas wore knee pants and knickers through the 1930s, but loing pants were more common than in cities.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main U.S. long pants page]
[Return to the Main long pants country page]
[Return to the Main U.S. pants page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [Essays] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: 6:25 AM 5/17/2008
Last updated: 6:25 AM 5/17/2008