Spielgel Boys Elementary Age Pants (Wintee 1937-38)

Figure 1.--This 1930s Spiegel catalog page shows the variety of pants on offer to elenentary (primary) school boys age 4-10 years in the 1930s. The specific year was not available. We now know it is the 1938-39 winter catalog. There are short pants, knickers, and long pants. Notice the knit cuff leg closures. Also notice the wide pants bottoms for long pants. Many of the pants for this age group were done as button-on pants.

We see a variety of pants on offer in the 1930s, short pants, knickers, and long pants. Knickers were still commonly worn at the beginning of the decade. We see as the decade prgresses knickers being worn by younger boys. They were were declining in popularity, especially by the end of the decade. Many of the ones we do see had knit closures rather than the clasp closures common in the 1920s. Long pants were becoming increasingly common and we see even younger boys wearing them. Many younger boys still wore short pants, especially durng the summer. Long pants were often cuffed. Some had very wide bottom leg hems like bell-bottoms. There were also jodpurs, but they were not very common. Pants are sold with both jackets and suits and separately. Sears calls some of its short pants 'English shorts', we are not entirely sure what this meant. Shorts were mostly for boys 10 years of age and younger although some older boys wore them, especially during the summer. This was, however, a winter catalog. We don't have the year, but it is clearly ainter catalog as you can tell by the overcoats, mitten and knit caps. Some boys still wore short pants all year round even during the winter. Mothers at the time were changing, but some still thought that younge boys shous wear short pants. Here there was also a social-class aspect. Boys from affluent fmilirs were more likely to wear shorts and boys from working-clas families more likeky to wear long pants. There was also a regionl aspect with short pants more common in the South than North. Many of the pants for younger boys (all three main types) were done in button on styling.


Spiegel was funded at the end of the Civil War (1865). Joseph Spiegel, the son of a German rabbi and younger brother of Union Army Colonel Marcus M. Spiegel. He spent the last month of the War in a Confederate prison camp, where conditions were terrible. Joseph settled in Chicago, where his brother-in-law, Henry Liebenstein, ran a furniture business. With Liebenstein's assistance, Joseph opened J. Spiegel and Company, a small home furnishings retail operation located on Wabash Avenue in Chicago's loop and expanded into clothing. Spiegel delivered its first mail order catalog to women across America in 1905. The fashion and furniture retailer had 10 million customers by the roaring 20s . Spiegel sent buyers to Paris fashion shows, who brought European trends to American homes. It was not as large as Sears or Wards, but had the reputationnof being a little more fashionable.


The Spiegel catalog page is not dated. We at first were confidnt it came from the 1930s. We were, however, not surecabout the specific year. It is clear from the knit cuffs on the knickers that it was from the 1930s. But after working on the page, we realized we had a good clueas to the precise date--merchadize from the 1937 Disney film, 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'. It was Disney;s first full-length fully animted feature film. This strongly suggests that it was the 1937-38 winter catalog. It is possible that it was the 1938-39 catalog winter catalog, but 1937-38 seems much more likely.


We see a variety of pants on offer in the Spiegel 1930s winter catalog page, short pants, knickers, and long pants. We do not have the top of the page, but we can make out the offerings in the middle of the page. Short pants and especially knickers were dominant in the 20s, but long pants as the decade progressed were becoming more and more important. We also see jodpurs, but they were not very common. Pants are sold with both jackets and suits and separately.


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Created: 5:20 PM 3/18/2018
Last updated: 5:21 PM 3/18/2018