* American advertisements and catalogs with boys clothes--the 1960s

American Advertisements and Catalogs with Boys Clothings: The 1960s

Figure 1.--A HBC reader has provided this image from the fashion section of a 1969 issue of "Parents Magazine". Notice the turtle-neck which became popular in the 60s. We see American boys by the late 1960s wearing short pants more commonly than in the early 1960s. Nostly it was casual shorts that were becoming popular. Dressy outfits like this were much less common. We see them, however, in fashion magazines. Also note the long bangs, no doubt influenced by the Beatles."

Major trends occurred in boys' fashions during the 1960s, mostly in the secomd half of the century. Fashions were still conservative in the early 1960s. Gradually we begin to see new styles like turtle necks and large hairy sewaters becoming popular. Camp shorts appeared in the 1960s and short pants increasingly began to be seen as casual clothes. Fashion magazines often showed boys wearing dressy short pabnts outfits. A HBC reader has provided us some information from a 1960s Spigel catalog. The general trend, however, was the emergence of short pants as a popular cassual garment for summer wear. We begin to see much more colorful clothing in the second half of the decade. We begin to see Hippy-influenced psychedelic clothing. The Hippies and flower children defied the conservative conformity of the 1950s. Tight jeans were fashionable and bell-bottoms that flared wide at the knee became a fashion hit. ' Ethnic clothing makes an appearance, especially leather jackets. Along with the new Mod fashions, preppy fashions for more conservative youth remained popular, including Madras plaids. Synthetic fibers mostly used as blends with cotton and wool had a major impact on 1960s fashions leading to an even more important role in the 1970s.

The 1960s

We have found some advertisements and catalog items which we think date to the 1960s, but cannot identify the specific year. One of the values of catalogs is that they are dated sources. We have found, catalog pages, however, with useful information that are not dated. We usually can identify the decade, but of course this is not fool proof. Perhaps HBC readers can help with the dating. We note a Butterick pattern for little boys suits without lapels. We notice a Montgomery Ward catalog page offering summer cotton boxer shorts. This was a casual or play style. We notice a Sears catalog page from the early-60s offering clam diggers along with other types of casual summer pants.



American mail order catalogs in 1961 featured jeans and other long pants for boys of various ages. Khaki slacks were a staple. Stores offered shirts in a variety of bold prints as well as standard white annd blue colors. Button down shirts were very popular. A popular style or youngr boys were shortalls. The fact that the son of the new president, John F. Kennedy, wore shortalls helped to popularize them. Younger boys might wear short pants Eton suits. Most older boys wore long pants suits. We do see boys from well-to do families earing short pants suits, but it was not very common. Some private schools had short pants school uniforms looking like British schoools. While dressing up in short pants suits was bcoming less common, we see more boys wearing shorts for play and casual wear during the summer. A popular style of casual short pants for boys in 1961 were play and camp shorts. Sears offered camp shorts in sizes to age 22.


We note J.C. Penney ads in Life magazine during the early-1960s. Penney's celebrated their 60th anniversary in 1962. We note an ad for polo shirts, although they did not use the term. Penneys seem confused as to what they should call these shirts. Here they used the term 'sports shirts'. There were all kinds of variously colored stripes. Even though Penney's called them sport shirts, the boys were all pictured with their collars buttoned. The models all have short hair.


Best in its 1963 Fall and Winter catalog offered a variety of monogramed clothing for younger boys and girls, including long-sleeve polo shirts, play smocks, robes, pajamas, and sweatshirts. They were uni-gender garments, excpt for the polo shirts which had different collars for boys and girls. The sweatshirts had a hooded option. We note more J.C. Penney ads in Life magazine during 1963. We note an ad for polo shirts, although they did not use the term. Here they are pictured for teens. Penneys seem confused as to what they should call these shirts. Here they used the term 'knits'. There were all kinds of variously colored stripes and turtle necks with chevron fronts. Penney's continues to show the shirts with collars buttoned. The models still have short hair. A Sears Spring 1963 advertising supplement shows children wearing party clothes. The girl wears a frilly yellow pastel dress. The boy wears a grey Eton suit.


We do not yet have nuch information on 1964. We notice a 1964 Marshal Field's ad with dressup clothing for youngr boys and girls. Marshall Field�s was a Chicago department store that expnded to become to become an importnt chain before being acquired by Macy's. Their 1964 ad offered two styles of Eton suits and shortalls for boys as well as what looks like a wedding outfit. W also have found ad for clam diggers/peddal pushers. They were a casual style for summer wear. They did not prove very popular with boys. Girls seemed to like them more.


The United States committed combat troops to Vietnam in 1965. The war was to affect fashions as have earlier wars. A HBC reader reports, "I was at my public library last week and I found a 1965 Spiegel catalog. They sold a large array of boys and men's clothes and they are all in color with peopl modeling them. There was a section titles "Shorts and Sers". Remember the page on camp shorts on HBC? They show a boy modeling three pairs of camp shorts, navy blue, khaki/tan, and sky blue. The Spiegel camp shorts had seven pockets on them compared to the five pocket type that I wore as a boy. They also had the half elastic back same as mine. The extra two pockets were on the left and right sides of the shorts. That is the first time that I ever saw those type of camp shorts. Mine came from Sears, Wards, Horn's, and Kauffmans. I guess the reason for that is because we did not get the Spiegel catalog. They also show the same boy, he looks to be about 12 or 13 years old, modeling three different pairs of jean shorts. They were regular blue denim, ecro white, and a sort of grass green color. The ad copy stated that the jean shorts had an extra strong back yoke. The same boy modeled each of the three colors with different types of shirts. In the blue denim shorts he wore a striped blue jersey with white tube socks. In the ecro white shorts he wore one of those western style cowboy jackets it was also ecro white. In the green shorts he wore a long sleeve checked shirt, just like Timmy wore in Lassie. All of the shirts and jerseys were tucked in on the boy model presumably so that the waist features of the shorts could be seen. The excepton was the ecro western style jean jacket. With the camp shorts he wore a blue and white stripped jersey, also present in all six color photos were the white tube socks with different color bands on the top and what looked like Keds tennis shoes. The odd thing about all these photos is the boy was not wearing a belt and all the shorts had belt loops on them. It looked to me that all the clothes did fit him perfect, so maybe that is why he did not wear a belt in any of the pictures. One other possibility is that Spiegel wanted to show the entire product without any frills or attachments. The price range was $5-6 for the shorts. The jackets, shirts, and jerseys were also in that price range. All the shorts on that page were cut mid lenth and all were hemmed. The size range for all the shorts was size 8 to 20." We note an electric power ad showing the all-white underwear worn in the 1960s.


J.C. Penny offered a range of what we would call polo shirts in Life magazine ads. Pennys had a catalog, but unlike Sears also advertized in mass market magazines. This is a term that is used vasriously even by the sane company. We would describe polo shirts as essentially collared "T" shirts. Pennys called them knits. They were done in various colors with with both button and turtle-neck collars. Interestinfly, Penny's allways depicted the collars buttoned, even when the boys were playing football. We note that union suits were still offered into the 1960s. Here we have union suits in the Sears 1966 catalog. These advertisements and mail order ads are an interesting way of following hair style trends. We note the boy models all with short hair cuts, although we no longer see crew cuts.


We so not yet have much information about 1967. A reader has sent us an item on overcoats for younger boys and matching leggings from the 1967 Best Departmnt store catalog. This is one of the last listings we have found for leggings, presumably because it was no longer coimmon for boys to wear short pants in cold winter weather. I was a little surprised by the date.T his would have been a tyle for affluent families at the time. Our reader writes, "The year for the catalog was 1967. I recall wearing winter outfits like this around 1960-61. I remember still seeing children from either very conservative families or higher society families still wearing those types of clothes until around 1970 but not very often by then."


We still see some ads for suits. We note a Simplcity pattern for Nehru collar-buttoning jackets. They were not a specifically popular style, except among hippies. We see virtually no examples of boys wearing them in the photographic record. They became a staple, however, among hippies and anbti-War protestors. Nehru was seen as a symbol of pacifism even though India actually fought wars. We see junior Eton suits being offered for younger boys in the major catalogs on sizes up to 6 years. This has been a popular style since the 1920s and is still seen today. And we do see them in the photographic record. The Sears Fall and Winter 1968 offered Eton suits with plaid jackets for boys 2-6x years of age. They were oddered with both short and long pamts. The shorts were shown worn with knee socks. There were coordinated outfits for girls done in both skirts and jumpers. There were also ads for Scout uniforms, both in the big mail order catalog and in Boys' Life, the Boy Scout magazine. The BSA promoted the short pants uniform for summer wear. An example is a Boys' Life ad (June 1968). The BSA stressed the comfort factor. More Scouts were wearing shorts in the q960s, but Cubs usually chose long pants.


Casual styles were increadsingly popular. Fewer boys were wearing suits. Most boys in the 1960s were wearing long pants suits. We still see some younger boys wearing short pants suits. This seems most common with conservative, affluent families. We note some dressy short pants outfits with kneesocks in fashion magazines such as the outfit seen here (figure 1). We note a double breasted short pants suit in the "Family Fashion" section appearing in a 1969 issue of the Parents Magazine. We notice some fad fashions in the 1960s. One such style was Nehru jackets, but they do not seem to have been very popular. Spieleg in 1969 offered Nehru jackets for boys. This is an indicator that Hippy styles were entering main-stream fashion. They were offered for boys 6-12 years of age. We do not, however, see ecamples in the photogrsphic record. Seas offered coordinated Winnie the Pooh outfits for pre-school boys and girls. The girl outdits were done in slightly larger suzes than the boy outfits.


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Created: January 3, 2003
Last updated: 10:19 AM 7/25/2020