American mail order catalogs offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. American mail order catalogs in 1938 still featured many of the styles worn in the 1920s and earlier in the 1930s. Knickers were still worn, but declining in popularity. Long pants were becoming increasingly common. Younger boys still wore short pants, especially in the summer. We tend to see short pants most commonly worn not just by younger boys, but by boys from affluent families. We continue to see a trend toward more casual clothing, but suits were still commonly worn, but much less commnly to school. We see short pants, knicker, and long pants suits. We have some limited information on American catalog offerings in 1938. Sears in 1938 offerd boys Mackinaw jackets in its 1938-39 Winter catalog. This was a popular style in both the 1930s and 40s. Sears also offered a wide range of waist suits for boys and girls in the Handwear store brand. Hosiery was varied. We see ankle, knee socks as well as long stockings, although long stockings were decling in poularity. .
We note a range of jackets and coats. We note both cold weather jackets and overcosts, the difference being primarily length. The children in the Easter advertising shoot here are both wearing overcoats. The only catalog listing we have at this time is mackinaw jackets.
Sears in 1938 offerd boys Mackinaw jackets in its 1938-39 Winter catalog. This was a popular style in both the 1930s and 40s. This means that they would have been bought for going back to school
suits and obvously Winter wear. These mackinaws are for the very coldest weather. We suspect they sold especially well in northern states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Maine. The illustrations shpw boys wearing various style of cold wear caps worn bu boys in 1938. Flat caps seem popular, but we also note stocking caps.
We continue to see a trend toward more casual clothing, but suits were still more commonly worn than is the case today. They were much less commnly worn to school. This varied somewhat from to school to school, but the general pattern was for increasingly casual clothing. We see more formality at private chools and evn some public schools, but the iverall partern is for more casualwear. Age was a factor, especially at school. We still see some suits in highschool, especially for the older boys. And suits were still commonly worn for church and special occassions. We do not yet have any 1938 catalog pages, but the general pattern can be seen in the other 1930s pages. We have for some reason found some fashion photographs like the going to church image here (figure 1). They seem to be images for advertising publications and magazines. We see short pants, knicker, and long pants suits. We have found some fashion photographs. We note more and more long pabts, especially for the older boys, but we still se short pants and knicker suits.
We note a range of hosiery in 1938, including ankle socks and kneesocks. Long stockings were still worn, but not nearly as common as they once had been. Waists and stocking supporters were still availavle to hold up long stockings. We note both hosiery and waist suits offered by Sears.
This Sears catalogue page offered children's hosiery (Spring and Summer catalogue, 1938, p. 245). It's
interesting that although this catalogue is obviously for the warmer seasons of the year, Sears still devoted almost an entire page to long stockings for boys and girls from infants (only a few months old) to
older children up to the age of about 14. Four grades of long stockings for children from about 6 to 14 are on offer here while only two styles of 5/8th-length socks are available and one style of knee socks for
boys to wear with shorts. I think there must have been a separate page for knee socks for boys wearing knickers, which were still advertised widely elsewhere in 1938. There is a separate section at the bottom of the page for infants' long stockings in five different grades (some with part wool content).
Sears offered a wide range of waist suits for boys and girls in the Handwear store brand. The Sears ad copy read, "Keep 'Em Happy! Let 'Em ... play outdoors, romp indoors, stretch, jump, bend,
twist. Just Be Sure They're in Sears Long Wearing Waistsuits!
Handywear--Our Own Trade Mark."
This page covers three different categories of support garments in 1938--pin-on garters, underwaists, and garter waists. That there are several grades offered
in all three categories seems significant to me. Notice also that boy
and girl models are equally represented. 1938 was a year in U.S.
culture when support garments for long stockings began to be very
prominently advertised in both Sears and Wards catalogs. Ads for long
stockings were also featured saliently during the same years. This
prominence lasted until about 1943-44 and then very quickly died away
after the war came to an end.
We note quite a variety of underwear offered in 1938. We see some of the older styled underwear as well as many modern looking items. This is one area that the photographic record offers few clues, but the big mail order companies provide very detailed information. We note long underwear offered by Sears. Long underwear was still widely worn durung the Winter, especially in northern states.
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:
[Main U.S. page]
[Main U.S. 1930s page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Flat caps] [Sailor suits] [Sailor hats] [Buster Brown suits] [Knickers] [Short pants]
[Eton suits] [Rompers] [Tunics] [Smocks] [Long stockings]