** American mail order catalogs with boys clothes -- the 1970s

American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: The 1970s

Figure 1.--Here are some of the tops and shorts offered ny Sears in their 1973 summer catalog. Notice the wide white belt.

Casual clothes became increasingly common in the 1970s. Boys wore suits less than in the 1960s. American boys no longer wore short pants suits, although younger boys wore Eton suits. There was a major shift in the 1970s. Many American boys never wore short pants except when they were very young. There was a gradual change in the 1970s, By the end of the decade it was increasingly common for boys to wear short pants. One popular style was camp shorts. Shorts were often worn with with tube socks. Bellbottom trousrs became all the rage. The 1970s was known for the use of polyester.


A HBC reader has provided us an ad for summer wear. Unfortunately the ad is incomplete and we do not not know the source. We think it is from a 1970s newspaper, probably a department store ad. It shows an older boy wearing a tank top and camp shorts. Unfortunately the ad copy is missing.



All the major mail order catalogs offered camp shorts in 1971. Penney called them "camping style shorts". They were stylistic differences among the shorts offered. The Penney's camp shorts seem to be cut a little shorter than the Sears camp shorts. We note a 1971 Penney's ad for pogo sticks. the boy on the pogo stick is illustrated wearing camp shorts.



We have some information on 1973. mostly from Sears. Camp shorts were a very popular style os short pants in 1973. Sears was one of the retailers offering them. The cut was still relatively long. The Sears summer catalog offered several styles of shorts. Besides camp shorts, there were also cut-offs, walking shorts, and other styles as well as a wide variety of types.


A HBC contributor has proviude a scan of a page vfrom the Sears 1974 Fall-Winter catalog. The page offers boys sleepwear--all different styles of pajamas. He writes, "I think that due to the Energy crisis of the 1970s caused by the Arab oil embargo and sharp rise iun prices that home heating prices soared older. Perhaps thatbwas why Sears began offering footed pj bottoms for older boys. Prior to that 1960s/early-70s the sizing for footed pajamas only went up to size 8. I had not noticed that before." As best we can tell, this did not prove a popular item. It is also interesying tyo nnote that by thev1970s we seen African-American children as models in the popular mail order catalogs.




We notice an Ohio Deparment store newspaper ad for a white tennis outfit, a white shirt and shorts. These knit shirts in the polo style or a popular preppy garment and have remained popular for decades. Simplicity offered patterns for a range of casual clothing (bathing suit, tank tops, and athletic short pants) in 1977. Patterns weee not dated like mail order catalogs and adverisements, but this one has a date written on niot. on it.


A popular style of short pants were camp shorts. They were worn by boys of all ages. All the major retailers, both catalog stores and actual stores offered them. K-mart, a discount retailer, offered camp shorts in a wide range of sizes . -Boys' play wear in the 1970's reflected that decade's growing informality and more relaxed attitudes towards modesty. The short denim shorts shown here are typical of what American boys under 12 years typically wore on hot summer days by the end of the decade. Here is an ad from Zayre's department store, circa 1978, for boys' shorts and tees.


T-shirts and jeans were very popular. More boys were wearing short pants. Camp shorts were popular. Camps shorts were featured in sizes for boys from 8-20. The most popular color was blue. Sears offered Underoos in sizes up to 16 years. Underoos was underweae in traditional styles, but as costume characters. Sneakers were very popular.


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Created: April 9, 2001
Last updated: 2:10 AM 1/29/2021