* American mail order catalogs with boys clothes -- 1936

American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: 1936

Figure 1.--American boys commonly wore knickers in the 1930s, usually with patterened kneesocks. For some reason, long stockings were normally solid colors. Notice how the knickers are tucked into the kneesocks. These were kneesocks offered in the Sears 1936 catalog. Notice the destinctive sports collar.

American mail order catalogs offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. There were no major new fashions introduced in the 1930s, but several long-running trends were observeable. They were well documented in the catalogs. Knickers were still worn, but by younger boys and were declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summer. Kneesocks were commonly worn, usually with Argyle or other patterns. Ankle socks were less common, but increasing in popularity. Some boys wore longtockings, but increasingly younger boys. The light colored tan and brown colors for long stockings were readily apparent in 1936 catalogs.

Toddler Clothes

We note a wide range of play outfits for toddlers including bib-front pants, short pants summer outfits, and long pants winter outfits. We note a page from the De Lis catalog with the boy�s dress and the creepers and creeper suits. De Lis is not a company we know much about yet. The company's outfits are very stylish, more stlish than we often see in American catalogs. These are boy outfits despite some of the colors and styling.

Coats and Jackets

We see both jackets and coats in the 1930s. They are similar, but different garments. The jacket is a light-weight, short cut garment. A coat is a heavier garment for cold weather. This the two main factors in weight and cut. Many such garments are clearly identifiable. Other garments are difficulr to distinguish. By the 1930s, jackers were becoming standard for boys and they were being made in heavier weights for winter. We note a garment that Penny's called a slip-over. It seems that it was a jacket with a partial front zipper. It looks rather like a sweater. nIt was a style that does not seem to have been very succesful in America. Marshall Fields offered overcoats in its summer 1936 catalog.


Sweaters were a major garment fior boys from the late 19th century. There were many types of sweaters available for boys in the 1930s, pullovers (both long sleeve and sleeveless) and button-up cardigans. Many with brightly colored patterns.


Suits were still a very important garment, but we note fewer American boys wearing them to school. Youngr boys wore Eton suit. Older boys wore single- and double-breasted suits in 1936. We note short pants, knickers, and long pants suits. Knicker suits were still worn but beginning to decline in popularity. Short pants suits were not nearly as popular in America asin Europe and were generally made for younger boys. We note a McCalls suit pattern whith the waist taken in. The pattern could be made with either short or long pants. We are not sure why McCall did not provide a knickers option. Perhaps this is an indication that knickers were declining in popularity, but we still see knickers in the major mail order catalogs. Perhaps knickers were e more difficult for home sewers to make.


We notice a wide range if shirts offered in 1936. Shirts with wide unbuttoned sports collars were popular in 1936. They could be worn cassually or with a suit like the boys shown here (figure 1). We notice Penny's offering long sleeve shirts with standard collars, both dress shirts and school shirts.


We see a range of pants being commonly offerwd in 1936 American catalogsm ibcluding shirt oantsm knickers and long pants. . Knee pants were no longer being offered, although yhe rerm was stull in use. Knickers were still commonly offered, but by increasingly younger boys and were declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common even for younger biys. The concentions varied from countty to country. As a result, there were commonly wide age overlaps between the different types of pants. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summerm but there were social class and regional variations. We see that in the photographic record, but not so clearly in the catalogs. Boys still wore short pants during the Winter. We also notice warm, woolen leggings for younger boys wearing short pants and girls wearing short skirts. This was an upperclass fashion, commonly for boys wearing suits.


Catalog offerings provide a great deal of useful information about hosiery in 1936. Kneesocks had not yet replaced long stockings for knickers by 1936. Most older boys were, however, wearing Kneesocks with their knickers. Particularly popular were kneesocks done in Argyle and other patterns. Long stockings were still widely worn, especially by younger boys. They were also worn for dress up occassions. An increasing number of boys were wearing ankle socks, commonly with long pants Some boys wearing short pants might still wear long stockings during the cooler month. Assessing popularity is complicated. The extensive catalog offerings suggests to us that long stockings were still commonly worn, probably a little more commonly by girls than boys. The photographic record suggests to us that lonf stockings were declining in popularity.


We do not have much information on underwear in 1936 yet. We do have a few items. The VestPants combinations I do not think were very common. Gartr waists had been commonly worn by American children. As long stockings declined in popularity during the 1930s, garter waists were becoming less common.

VestPant combinations

We do note that one important underwear manufacturer, Minnesota Mills, offered a new type of underwear which they called VestPant combinations. The underwear was for younger children and as best we can tell, the underpants buttoned on the undershirt.

Stocking Supporters

Long stocking supporters continued to be commonly featured in the major mail order catalogs. Long stockings were still commonly worn in the United States, but increasingly by younger boys. Children were increasingly wearing knee socks and ankle socks. I think the same trend was occurring with girkls, but perhaps somewhat less pronounced. We note ads in both the Sears and Wards catalogs in 1936. We note different types and styles of stocking supporters. Long stockings were worn primarily for warmth and thus were seasinally more common in the Fall and Winter.


Boys and girls in the 1930s still commonly wore leather shoes to go to school in and even for play. Sneakers were available but were mostly worn for play during the summer. Leather shoes were much more common.

Edwards leather school shoes

An ad for boys' shoes with a school boy in the illustration dressed in somewhat idealized clothes--at least for America. The boy wears shirt and tie, striped pullover sweater pleated shorts, turnover knee socks with a stripe around the top, and of course the Edwards brand oxford-style leather shoes. Both good posture and good character seem to be elements in persuading parents to buy these shoes for their sons and daughters. The ad is interestingly moralistic in tone.


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing catalog/magazine pages:
[Return to the Main American mail order 1930s page]
[Main photo/publishing page] [Store catalogs] [Fashion magazines]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossary] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Sailor hats] [Flat caps] [Sailor suits] [Buster Brown suits] [Eton suits]
[Rompers] [Tunics] [Smocks] [Pinafores] [Knickers] [Long stockings] [Kneesocks] [Underwear]

Created: 4:24 AM 10/5/2004
Last updated: 4:29 PM 7/22/2020