Freemans Shirt, Ties, and Short Pants (1974)

Figure 1.--A British mail order catalog, Freemans, show a wide range of boys clothes in 1974. We have little information about the company at this time. We notice both flared long pants and short cut continental-style short pants like theshorts the boy here is modeling.

Freemans offered an extensive line of boys' clothes in its 1974 catalog. We have no information about the company at this time. Freemans appears to be promoting the Ladybird brand. We wonder if it is a store brand. Freemans Shere offers a shirt, ties, and short pants. The shrts are the short cut Continental-style that had become very popular in England by the 1970s.


Freemans offered an extensive line of boys' clothes in its 1974 catalog. We have little information about the company at this time. The mail order catalogue was based in Worcester, but I think it was in a group that might have been called 'The British Mail Order Catalogue Company.' Hopefully our British readers will provide some information about the compny.

Continental-style Shorts

We notice references to "continental-style shorts" in Britain. A reader writes, "When English boys stopped wearing "culottes anglaises", what they wore were described as "continental-style shorts". At the same time as the Brits were looking to the continent for fashion ideas, the French started dressing their boys in longer culottes anglaises. It's funny how they admired each other's styles, yet they couldn't manage to both dress the same way at the same time." English schoolboys and Cubs in the 1970s wore continental-styled shorts. We notice that there was no reference to any specific continental country, perhaps because the shorter-cut shots were so common throughout Europe. We believe, however, that France was an especially important fashion influence.


The Ladybird clothing for younger children was available in a wide range of clothing stores. There were shops that specialised in this company's outfits for boys and girls. I do not know if this range of clothing is still available. Freemans appears to be promoting the Ladybird brand. All their clothes had a label with a picture of ladybug on it. I'm not surewhy they weren't called Ladybug. There was also the usual information: size, washing instuctions etc. I'm sure Woolworths stocked their clothes as well as other stores and mail order catologues like Freemans here. They were at the cheaper end of the market, I think. A reader writes, "I recall having ladybird pyjamas and underwear." For a while they produced a free comic book for children. The Ladybird comic came as a supplement to the Ladybird catologue - kids would think it "cool" (they hoped) to wear clothes like those in the comic. And guess what? - those very clothes were included in the new ladybird catalogue which you could pick up in stores. The stories always featured children having various adventures--and of course showed them dressed in ladybird clothing. One story I remember featured a group of children being swept out to sea on a raft they'd made but as one of the boys was wearing a brightly coloured Ladybird vest they were able to hoist it up the mast and so get spotted by a passing liner!. I wonder if anyone still has any of these comics? Tthey were well-produced with quite realistic illustrations. There were a famous series of children's books called Ladybird Books--always with text on one page and illustrations on the other. These were very well illustrated. There were geared to very young readers with titles like "Going to School" and "Cubs" as well as a host of others. Their books were used as graded reading courses by some schools. I'm not sure if these were linked to the clothing manufacturer or not - I don't think they were.


Freemans Shere offers a shirt, ties, and short pants seen here (figure 1).

Freemans shirt

Freemans offered a white shirt with a trendy collar (item H). It was done in polyester and cotton in sizes 40, 45, and 50 in (boy's height). It was a Ladybird shirt which appears to be a storebrand. The ad copy read, "Ladtbird crisp white shirt with fashion conscious collar." Unlike the other shirts shown by Freeman's on this page which were orderd by age size, this shirt ws ordered by the boy's height. I am not sure why this shirt was ordered differently.

Freemans self-tied ties

Freemans offered Ladybird "tidy ties" (item K) that were already tied and only needed to be clipped on. The material was rayon. They were also a Ladybird brand item. They were done in blue, brown, and maroon. The ad copy read, "Ladybird tidy ties you don't hve to tie, neatly knotted on elastic neckband."

Freemans continental short pants

Freemans offered grey shorts (item J) with an elasticised waist in sizes 2-8. The material was Bri-nylon. They were vlued priced at 95p. The ad copy read, "Smart grey shorts with elasticized waist and stiched front creases."

Reader Comments

A French reader writes, "This English boy (figure 1) wears French-styled flanel short pants. This style was very popular in France for boys during the 1960s and 70s for boys 4-12 years old. Although not as common there were also English-styled short pants in our catalogues during the same period. But we French boys normally had open collars and did not wear ties like the English boys. The principal difference between French and English boy less 12 years was the longht of the short pant and the open collar. We normally wore ankle socks rather than kneesocks, except when the weather got cooler."


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Created: December 8, 2003
Last updated: Fabruary 27, 2004