The Sears Spring and Summer catalog also offered many knickers both as individual pants and as suits. The suits had single breasted jackets. Some of the suits had
vests (waistcoats). The suits were sized by age--from 7 to 17/18 years. Some boys wore long trousers earlier than 17, but by 18 nearly all boys had switched to
longies. Some suits came with two pairs of pants, both knickers. Some other companies offered the second pair as long pants.
A history of mail order catalogs is helpful in understanding the time line of tese catalogs and the clothing sold through them. Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs were the great cornucopias of material goods for the early 20th century. All the new things that were changing American life danced across their pages. Through it, huge warehouses offered to modernize the farms and small towns of the Midwest. The booming city of Chicago was the center of the American wholesale dry goods trade at mid-century. It was thus no accident as the railroad spread out through the
midwest that the two giants of American merchanizing were born in Chicago. Creating a huge industry is only part of the impact made by Aaron Montgomery Ward. The lifestyles of America were altered by catalog merchandising. Not only
material but social and cultural aspects of American life were deeply affected. In 1946, the Grolier Society in New York included the Montgomery Ward catalog in
its collection of 100 American books chosen for their bearing on the life and culture of the people. In the words of the Grolier selection committee, "The Mail order
catalog has been perhaps the greatest single influence in increasing the standards of American middle-class living." While Sears and Wards were the first companies,
they were followed by many others. Pennys was especially important in America. Quelle was very important in Germany.
These knicker suits were offered in the 1930 Sears catalog
(Spring and Summer), p. 286.
The individual suits here are for older boys and are keyed to texts on an adjoining page by letters--A, B, C, etc. There were also two knicker suits for younger boys on another page.
All the suit jackets are single breasted. I'm not sure why this was. Double-breasted jackes were also worn in the 1930s. I'm not sure why Sears decided not to offer them as a part of the selection here. All these suits are sized by age--from 7 to 17/18 years. Although not a full color illustration, the images show that boys suits were done in muted colors: blue, brown, and grey.
All of the knickers here are below the knee knickers. Above the knee knickers were worn in the 1910s and 20s, but we no longer see them by the 1930s. We are no dsure what kind of closures the knickers have at the leg hem. One item specifies elastic knee bands. It looks like the other knickers had the same leg closings, but it is not specified. There does not appear to be buttons or buckles. The ad copy offers no details. Some boys wore long trousers earlier than 17, but by 18 nearly all boys had switched to longies. Only knickers are pictured in the illustrations, but the sweater set (item C) was available in optional long pants. Some of the Sears suit desriptions specified Golf knickers. Others did not. Yet all the illustrations look the same. We are not sure just what are the specific characteristics of Golf knickers. It may be a sporty term designed to make the knickers more popular rather than a real stylistic description. Some of the knickers were described as lined. Others did not indicate that they were lined. We are not sure if this meant that they were not lined or if it simplly was not specified. Nor or we sure if it was just suit knickers that were commonly lined. Some boys wore long trousers earlier than 17, but by 18 nearly all boys had switched to longies. Only knickers are pictured in the illustrations, but the sweater set (item C) was available in optional long pants.
Sears offered severn knickers suits and one weater-knuckers sets. Each of the suits were single-breasted suits. The knickes all seem to have similar if not identical cuts.
The ad copy read, "A world of good looks and a world of wear--all rolled into one suit! The fabric is popular navy blue cheviot--all wool and worsted--of the kind
that's going into a lot of men's suits this season. It's a heavyweight
fabric in fancy herringbone effect. The style, as shown, is both neat and
up to date. The coat is full lined, and the workmanship is excellent! Here
is just about all you want in a suit, at the price you want to pay!
SIZES--7 to 17 years. State age size. 40V3285--Blue All Wool Cheviot.
One Pants Suit. $9.95. 40V3286--Same suit with Two Pairs Golf Knickers,
The ad copy read, "There's a buckle on the knickers of this suit that gives the effect of a snappy belt, but they really don't require a belt or suspenders either!
Why? Because the waistband is a strong elastic--just about the most
comfortable arrangement you ever wore! And the knee straps are elastic,
too! That's just one advantage; the rest of the story is told by the fine
quality all wool and silk cassimere, the attractive medium brown shade,
and the dressy style of the whole suit. One or two pairs of knickers, by
the way, and both fully lined. Coat lined with fancy "Seropaca". SIZES--7
to 17 years. State age size. 40V3275--All Wool and Silk. One Pants suit
$5.95. Postpaid. 40V3279--Same Suit With EXtra Knickers $7.95"
The ad copy read, "Your Choice--Knickers or Longies! Outfit is obtainable with either the full lined golf knickers, or the popular straight hanging, wide cuff bottom longies. Sweater is pure all wool worsted in the attractive tan novelty pattern shown. Either pants are of all wool and silk cassimere in a neat tan mixture to match sweater. Very well made, neat, and just the outfit he needs for summer wear. State age size; also waist and inseam measures. 40V3177--Sweater and Golf
Knickers. Sizes 6 6o 14 years. Postpaid. $3.98. 40V3178--Sweater and Long Pants. SIZES 10 to 18 years. Postpaid $4.29." This was the one item here wear an option of long pants was offered. Interestingly it is the one item that is not a set that is not a formal suit. The suits were done in sizes beginning at 6 or 7 years, but for some reason the sweater sets began at size 10 years.
The ad copy read, "Extreme good looks characterize this inexpensive suit. In fact, it's hard
to decide whether to talk about the fine appearance or the low price; they
are both so worthy of mention! The Tattersall vest and the pleated top
knickers are copied from the latest and most expensive models. The
excellent fabric is a sturdy medium brown all wool and silk cassimere,
very firmly woven, and with a pleasing overplaid pattern that is very
popular. One or two pairs of full lined golf knickers! SIZES--7 to 17
years. State age size.. 40V3264--One Pants Suit. Postpaid $5.95.
40V3195--Two Pants Suit $7.95."
The ad copy read, "We made a very large purchase of this material at a real saving. Then we placed a huge contract for the tailoring and saved money there, too. You get both these savings! The fabric is pure all wool worsted--noted for its
fine appearance, the kind you won't find often in a suit at this price.
Coat is lined with lustrous, long wearing, Seropaca.SIZES 9 to 18 years.
State age size. 40V3268--Blue All Wool Worsted $11.95; 40V3293 Same Suit
with Two pairs of Knickers $15.25"
The ad copy read, "A desirable medium dark gray is the color--a high quality stylish shadow
stripe is the material. All wool and silk with peppy Rayon decorations! The
young fellow who likes to dress up now and then will find this suit to his
heart's desire! The Tattersall vest and pleated top mark it right up to the
minute in style, and the fine tailoring brands it as high quality, too. Full
lined with dressy Seropaca. This is the same suit that many a fellow's big
brother wears, but in a boy's size. SIZES 9 to 18 years. State age size.
40V3203--Gray Shadow Stripe All Wool and Silk Postpaid $9.95."
The ad copy read, "Style that's up to the minute. Fabric that wears and wears. Price that means a great saving! Everything you want in a boy's suit. Two pairs of golf knickers with famous elastic waist and kneebands. These elastic features
eliminate belts, suspenders, and knee straps and insure neat appearance at all
times. Made of attractive medium gray all wool and silk material in
attractive shadow stripe with maroon and blue overplaid. Close, solid weave
assures long wear. Coat lined with "Seropaca" and styled as illustrated.
Pants full lined. In our opinion a better suit isn't made at this price!
SIZES 6 to 17 years. State age size. 40V3231--Gray All Wool and Silk Two-
Pants Suit Postpaid $8.50.
The ad copy read "There's nothing missing in this suit to make it a winner from the start!. It's chock full of style, from the natty button peak lapel coat to the breezy Tattersall vest and pleated top knickers. And it fairly bustles with long
wear! Its fine quality, firmly woven, all wool and silk cassimere with Rayon
decorations is a dandy. And you'll like the style of the "Seropaca" coat
lining. To top it all off it comes with two pairs full lined golf knickers.
You need this suit, and we know you'll like it! SIZES--7 to 17 years. State
age size. 40V3237--Brown Novelty Four-Piece Suit $9.95. 40V3228--Medium Gray
Novelty Weave Four-Piece Suit. Postpaid $9.95." " Seropaca " was a new lustrous, fine looking durable lining. Made of a particularly strong combination of cotton and Rayon in a fancy weave.
Here are four more knicker suits. The Sears catalog also offered long pants suits. There were five different long pants suits. All were done with single-breasted suits. They were offered on a page with knickers suits. Like the other suits in the catalog, they were all single-breasted suits. All of these suits seem to have the same cut. The illustrations depict older teenagers wearing the longpants suit. Actually there were not a great difference in the long pants and knicker suits depicted together. The long pants suits were made in sizes down to age 9 years.
On the page with the short pants suit, Sears also offered two knickers suit foir the same age group, beginning at age 4. Younger children would normally wear a variety of juvile outfits including rompers and bib-front suits. The jackes were both single-breasted with two buttons. One of the knickers suits was washable. The small number of suits offered for this age group
suggest that it had become increasingly common to dress younger boys in casual clothes,
The reader should not assume from this page that all boys wore knicers in 1930. Most boys did wear knickers. Some younger boys wore short pants suits. Quite a number of boys wore long pants suits.
The sizing chart for the knicker suits in the Sears Spring and Summer catalog (1930), correlating chest, waist, and inseam measurements to age. It appears on p. 287 right next to the text descriptions of the individual suits on p. 286.
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