Figure 1.--Wards in its 1923 catalog offered these "Waist Suits". The models shown are girls, but they were offered for both boys and girls. Note the checked nainsook.
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", "union suits", and "romper togs".
I am not entirely sujre what the different names for children;s underwear meant. 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", "union suits", and "romper togs". The waist suit I think referred to the waist with buttons that could be used to hold up pants and and long stockings. A union suit is essentially the same as a combination suit that covered both the upper and lower torso. It was a male garment, although they were also made for girls through the early teen years. Like the combination suits, the suits were called union suits because the top and bottom were joined or united into a one-piece garment. The children;s versions were even more of a unioin or combination suit in that they also provided for support for holding up long stockings. The original union suits were made with ankle length legs and long sleeves. Later they were made in knee lengths for children who were sometimes not wearing long stockings. They also began to be made without sleeves. These suits normally down the front. A drop seat was added in the latter 19th century. These suits were available in a wide range of crotch closure for both convenience and hygiene in the early 20th century. The romper togs for girls and very young boys referred to the pants part of the garment which balooned out like rompers.
Especially notable in virtually all of these underwear suits were the large number of buttons, placed all over the garments. Some were for closing the garment, but many were not. They were used for other purposes, primarily in wearing the button-on clothes that were popular at the time. A boy would button on hds pants to his comination suit to hold them up rather than using a belt. Likewise a girl could button on her skirt. The buttons were also used to hold up long stockings.
Bloomers were for girls. The ad copy reads, "Bloomers knit in fine gauge og good quality cotton. Elastic at waist and knee. Full cut, comfortable sizes. Very practical. Sizes 6-12 years Stare sizes wanted. 29 D 739--White only ..... 25c Postage, 2c extra."
These suits could be worn by boys and girls. The models here are girls (figure 1), but the ad copy clearly indicateds that boys also wore them. The ad copy read, "Children Like Waist Suits. They are Very Comfortable. Special Value 50c. Dress the children in Waist Union Suits--the most comfortable underwear for lively boys and girls. This waist suit, mase in good quality, pajama checked nainsook, is just the thing for wear during hot summer months. Takes the place of three undergarments. Has reinforced tapesover shoulders; buttons on tape at waistline; strong metal pin tunes for fasteming hose supporters and comfortable, three button drop seat. Cut in large, full sizes. Will give excellent service. A very well made suit, priced remarably low. Order several. Sizes 2 to 12 years. State size wanted. 29 D 724--White only .... 50c. Postage, 3c extra." The term nainsook was a soft finished cotton fabric used for infants and children's underwear. Nainsook was usually white, but in this case is checked. I had thought it was of Chinese origins, but was Indian. In Hindi, the term "nainsukh" literally means "eye pleasure".
Figure 2.--Here we are a bit confused. The waist suits in the illustration looksidentical and apprears to be garment 29 D 726. Thus we think the first illustration is a front and the second illustration is the back view of the same garment and not the less expensive waist suit mentioned below the illustration.
There were several different styles of combination suits shown under this heading, including styles for both boys and girls.
The model shown here is a boy (figure 2), but this waist suit was for both boys and girls. The ad copy reads, "Boys' or girls' combed cotton Waist Suit. Tubular facings at front closing. Tape reinforcements with special taped on buttons for outer clothes. Very roomy drop seat. Cool, comfortable and durable. Sizes 2 to 12 years. State sizes wanted. 29 D 726--White only ... 69c. Postage 3c extra." Here we are a bit confused. The waist suits in the illustratio in look identical. Thus we think the illustration is a a front and back view of this waist suit and the less expensive waist suit is not illustrated.
We are not sure who this waist suit was for, but as it is not specified, it was also probably for both boys and girls. It apparently was not illustrated. The ad copy reads, "A Good Value. This Waist Suit is a splendid garment for the low price we ask. Good quakity knit cotton; tubuklar strapsupports; metal pin tubes for hose supporters; drop seat; strong buttons. Full cut, roomy sizes. Sizes 2 to 12 years. State sizes wanted. 29 D 725--White only ... 48c. Postage, 3c extra."
These combination suits were just for girls. These practical Waist and Bloomer Combinations can be wirn with slip-over dress, or in cool weather a skirt can be buttoned on. Waist is of white cross bar nainsook and bloomers are of good qulality chambray or black sateen. Front closing. Buttons on tape for attaching other garments. Tape with metal tubes for hose supporters. Drop seat. Sizes 2 to 12 years. State size wanted. 29 D 720--With blue Chambray Bloomers .... 75c. 29 D 721--With Pink Chambray Bloomers .... 75c. 29 D 723--With Black Sateen Bloomers .... 85c. Postage, 3c extra.
Under the heading "Very Fine Quality Suits" were two combination suits. These were styled similarly, but straght legs for boys and romper pants for girls. The ad copy for the first suit read, "Excellent quality nainsook. Tape reinforcements from waist over shoulder. Extra buttons on tape; double seat, continous cloth binding around seat opening. Metal tubes for hose supporters. Sizes 2 to 12 years. State sizes wanted. 29 D 727--White only .... 69c. Postage, 3c extra." The ad copy for the girls' suit read, "Romper Tog Suit of best quality pin checked nainsook. Button front. Bloomer has elastic at knee with button hole for renewing elastic. Frop seat opening bound with tape. Double seat. Sizes 2 to 12 years. State size wanted. 29 D 722--Whire only .... 69c. Postage, 3c extra."
This was underwear for younger children. Although the styles above were worn by children from 2-12 years of age, this style only went for children up to age 8. While young boys may have worn this style, we suspect the school age children wearing it were mostly girls. The ad copy read, "A very satisfactory Waist Unioin Suit for younger cahildren. Fine qualityb knitted cottonin bloomer style, elastic knees. Tubular band top with crocheted edging around neck and arm holes. Reinforcing tapes with pearl buttons. Pin tubes for hose supporters. Drop seat. Sizes 2 to 8 years. State size wanted. 29 D 731--White only .... 98c. Postage, 3c extra."
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing catalog/magazine pages:
[Return to the Main American 1923 mail order]
[Main photo/publishing page] [Store catalogs] [Fashion magazines]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Sailor suits] [Sailor hats] [Buster Brown suits]
[Eton suits] [Rompers] [Tunics] [Smocks] [Pinafores]