School Clothes: Individual U.S. Schools--Grafton School: 1912

Figure 1.--This class portrait at the Grafton School shows the 2nd grade in 1912. The boys appear to be wearing knickers with long dark stockings.

Yonger boys in 1912 did not wear suit jackets to school. Most boys wore shirts and blouses, buttoned to the collar. None of the boys wore the ruffled collar that were still popular in the 1900s. One boy wore a bow and another a necktie. One boy had a smart sailor suit. Boys wore knickers, including some above the knee styles, with dark long stockings. The boys have short hair cuts, contrasting to the long hair worn by mot of the girls. Hair bows were very popular with the girls.

The Class

The photograph was 2nd grade class. The children would have been about 7 years old.

Helpful Information

Readers may find other HBC sections of interest in evaluating the fashions that the boys were wearing in 1912.

1910s chronology page

Boys fashions at the beginning of the decade were little changed from the turn of the century. The War, however, was a major dividing point. Many major changes occurred after the War and by the 1920s boys were dressing very differently than at the turn of the century. It is unclear just how the War had this impact. It certainly had the impact of destroying all the old certanties of pre-War Europe.

Figure 2.--The boys in the back row wear a small bow and a necktie. The other boys have simply buttoned their collar. I had thought the boy in the lower right hand corner was wearing a blouse with a ruffled collar, but this elargement looks like a plain collar.

U.S. 1910s chronology page

The early 20th Century was an interesting period in the development of boys' clothing. In many ways it was a period of many varied styles. Late 19th century styles continued after the turn of the century. Many of the new more casual styles of the 20th Century had begun to make real inroads in American boys' fashions. Styles such as tunics and rompers are characteristic of the period, other formerly popular 19th Century fashions had wined. The boys' kiltsuit was now little worn. The Fauntleroy suit was still worn at the beginning of the decade, but had passed from fashion by the end of te decade. The emerging 20th Century styles like knickers and short pants were wellestablished in the 1920s. Long ringlet curls were increasingly less common at the beginning of the decade and rarely seen at the end of the decade.

U.S. 1910s catalogs

Mail order catalogs show major changes in American boys clothes during the 1900s. Several important fashion trends are notable. A new style called an Oliver Twist suitappeared for todlers in the 1910s. It was much simplier than the fancy suits that younger children had previously worn. HBC notices another catalog, Stuarts in the 1910s. One notable trend is the increasing gender specific styles for younger children. Earlier both girls and boys wore dresses and it was oiften difficult to identify gender.

Boys' Garments

While we can not be sure, it looks like all the boys are wearing knickers and long stockings, although some boys may be waering kneepants. Their shirts or blouses are very plain. One boy wears a sailor suits. Both bows and neckties can be seen, although most boys just button their collars.


Many of these chilrdren would have worn caps or hats to school, but they are not shown in the photograph.

Figure 3.--Hairbows were very popular with the girls. Note the ranges of sizes, position, colors, and patterns. I wasn't sure about the second chid from the left in the back row. I thought this child might be a boy. While a boy might wear a blouse syled like this, I don't believe a boy would have worn kneepants or knickers with this styling.


None of these boys are wearing suits which would have been common in the early 1910s. Indeed only two boys have a formal look. This may in part have been a seasonal matter as it may have been to warm to have worn a suit jacket. One boy wears a bow and another a necktie with his shirt/blouse.


None of the boys wear jackets. Again this may have been a seasonal mastter.


None of the boys wear sweaters. It looks like the photograp was taken in the spring when the weather was warm.

Sailor suit

Sailor suits were still popular in the 1910s, but not as popular in the 1900s. Only one boy ear wears a sailor suit, but this was a small class. He has a light-colored suit, perhaps light blue. He does not appear to have been very happy about something.


The boys all wear plain styled blouses or shirts. At least some younger boys in the 1900s would probably have worn a ruffled collared blouse. The shirts are mostly light-colored. One is striped. They are asll long sleeved shirts.


One boy wears a necktie, but this was not yet the dominate neckwear. Notice the boy beside him wearing a bow.


The class picture is rather dark. As the boys wear dark pants and dark long stockings, little can be determined about their pants. The one boy wearing a sailor suit wears above the knee knickers. It is lokely that all these yonger boys in 1912 would have either been wearing knickers or kneepants.

Figure 4.--One boy wears a sailorsuit with above the knee knickers. I'm not sure what color it was, but it looks to be loght blue.


All of the boys in the front wear long stockings. They are all dark, probably black. None of the boys have yet begun to wear kneesocks that became so popular in the 1920s. The girls appear to be wearing the same dark long stockings.


The photograph is not sufficently detailed to determine what kind of shoes the boys are wearing.

Girl's Clothes

The photograph is no real clear. The girls appear to be wearing dresses without pinafores, but some of what look like white dresses could be pinafores. One noticeable trend is that they do not appear to be wearing the sailor styles which became very popular by the 1920s. The one accessory that seems to have been a fashion must was the hair bow. Note the ranges of sizes, position, colors, and patterns.


The boys in this class portrait do not appear to have dressed up much for their class portrait. Only two boys wear neckwar. None of the boys wear suits. The boy wearing the light-colored sailor suit may have been dressed up. The light-colored suit looks a little fancy for school and would have been easily soiled. Notably their collars are all fashioned, but this may have been simply the accepted convention. A HBC reader believes, "Since this was a school picture, I assume that the children are wearing their best clothes." This does not seem to have been true for this class.

Christopher Wagner

Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
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Created: June 3, 2001
Last updated: June 3, 2001