American mail order catalogs offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends.
A 1923 Wards mail order catalog shows the varied styles of underwear available for boys and girls in 1923. The underwear came equipped with numerous buttons for button-on styled clothing and for holding up the long stockings that were still commonly worn. Girls had bloomer or romper styled underwear while boys, excet for the youngest, wore stright legged underwear. Many styles for boys and girls were checked.
Dress-like sleepers were made for small infants. Older infants might wear shorter skirt-like garments, perhaps only for the girls.
One of the most popular styles for todlers and pre-school children, both boys and girls, were rompers. The rompers were a sharp departure from earlier styles for young children which were often very elaborate an constrictive. Loose-fitting rompers were a much more casual approch to children's clothes. They were mostly made for pre-school children, but as they were made through age 6, some children may have worn rompers after they came home from school.
One of the major development after World War I was a marked increase in the popularity of casual clothes. This was especially true for children's clothes. An interesting example here is what Sears called a Khaki Jean Summer Suit. It was a play suit made in sizes from 5 to 14 years (Sears, Spring-Summer, 1923). This is notable because in the 1920s most boys older than 12 wore knickers, not shorts. Here a exception was commonly made for camp. We see for example, Boy Scouts wearing shorts at camp, even though the standard uniform was knickers. The other unusual feature is that even though this is a hot-weather suit (recommended for vacations, summer camps, and general relaxed wear), it is shown with black long stockings--not very cool. Here we see the implied conflict between clothes designed to be informal and comfortable and yet that seem to require traditional black long stockings.
Boys wore a variety of coats in the fall and winter of 1922-23. Double breasted coats appear to have been very popular, including reefer jackets with sailor styling.
Sailor suits were still worn by American boys in the 1920s. They were most popular with younger boys, but HBC has b\noted them in sizes up to 19 years.
It was in the 1920s that our modern concept of cllared shirts became widely worn. The soft collar began to replace the Eton collar that had dominated oler boys' dresswear sine the 1890s.
American boys still commonly wore long stockings in 1923, espsecially during the fall and winter. Kneesocks had begun to appear more commonly in catalogs, but long stockings were still the most common for winter wear. Three-quarter socks were more common during the summer--unless a boy went barefoot, still common in small towns and rural areas.
A 1923 Wards mail order catalog shows the varied styles of hosiery available for boys and girls in 1923. The page from the summer catalog was entiled, "Well wearing hose for roming children". The illustrations show boys wearing both kneesocks and long stockings with anove the knee knickers. Wearing kneesocks with above the knee knickers was only in fashion for a few years. Much but not all of the hosiery offered for sale was the same for both boys and girls.
The 1920s clothing catalogs included a variety of garments and accessories besides the major categories. Many are important to note as in some cases as fashions changed or developed, they would disappear or become important styles in future generations. This is one of the valuable elements of these catalogs, allowing us to track changing fashions with sources of known dates.
Underwear was still rather complicated in the 1920s, primarily because of the popularity of button-on-styling and because long stockings were still being worn. We have a good bit of informatin because underwear was both advertised in catalogs as well as in many magazines.
A 1923 Wards mail order catalog shows the varied styles of underwear available for boys and girls in 1923. The underwear came equipped with numerous buttons for button-on styled clothing and for holding up the long stockings that were still commonly worn. Girls had bloomer or romper styled underwear while boys, excet for the youngest, wore stright legged underwear. Many styles for boys and girls were checked. There were several styles of combination suits. They were called combination sits because they combined both underm shirts and under pants. Wards also calls them "waist suits" and "romper togs".
Here we see an ad for Forest Mills Underwear. The ad emphasizes the company's product line for the entire family. I'm not sure what magazine carried the advertisement. We do know that it appeared in 1923. Forest Mills was a brand name for the Brown Durrel Company. This is not a company which we know anything about at this time.
We note popular boys' footwear styles rapidly changing from high-top to low-cut shoes, but both were still available in 1923. We note styles like saddle shoes and closed-toe sandals.
Here is the children's shoe page from the 1923 Montgomery Ward catalog, page 213.
This is an interesting page because it offers a wide range of styles. We note both high-top and low-cut shoes. Some ofthe styles will look old fashioned to the modern reader, such as ankle trap shoes and high-top Butcher shoes. while others such as the low-cut shoes and sandals wlll look suprisingly modern. Several of the low-cut shoes were for girls. We note both high-top and low-cut shoes. Thwere are also several styles of closed-toe sandals, suggesting that they were very popular. There were also a range of shoes for toddlers.
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