Boxer Shorts: Individual Boy

Figure 1.--When we first saw this photograph we assumed it was American until we saw the boy's sandals. This suggests to us that it may have been French, but we are just not sure. The mural in the background suggests England, but the sandals are not typical English school sandals. We would date it to about the 1950s.

When we first saw this photograph we assumed it was American until we saw the boy's sandals. Not only does the style not lok Americn, but we do not recall seeing American boys wearing sandals with grey socks. This is, however, common in England. This suggests to us that it may have been French or English, but we are just not sure. The mural in the background suggests England, but the sandals are not typical English school sandals. All things considered, we would date it to about the 1950s, probably taken in England but France is a strong possibility. The sandals in paticular suggest France.


This boy looks to be about 9-10 years old to us. Aw have another photograph on HBC, probably taken in France, of this boy a couple years earlier.


An American reader writes, "Isn't that domed building the U.S. Capitol? If not, it may be a State Capitol. In any case those sandals don't rule out a U.S. origin for the picture, as I had similar sandals when I was 5 or so." HBC at first thought of the Capitol, but after noting Westminister to the left thought it might be St. Pauls Cathedral, which would suggest England. Our American reader replied, "I have to agree that the image probably isn't American. The boy's socks are shorter than American boys' socks of that era, and the shorts are longer. Another detail is that the sleeves of the t-shirt are banded, which was not the usual case in the US, and the banded area is much longer than found on American t-shirts. And yeah, the dome is a slightly closer match to St Pauls than to the US Capitol." A British reader writes, "You were querying the location of the photograph, the picture behind the boy suggests England. I say this because the domed building looks very much like Londonís St Paulís Cathedral." Another English reader writes, "The boy in boxer shorts and sandals does look French. The accordian on the left is typical of a French band and you are right, the sandals are certainly not English. The background mural is probably misleading. After all I know of clubs in England with pictures of the Eiffel Tower on the wall and I regularly eat in a restaurant with a picture of the Taj Mahal as a backdrop. That is why it is clothing that is the best guide to nationality and why this is so interesting." Here HBC wonders about the mural. I can see a restaurant in London having Indian and French scenes, I'm less sure about a restaurant in Paris having an English scene. Do people in Paris go to English restaurants? I'm not sure I would. Now the Club scene is different. English music has a bit better reputation than English food.


There are several interesting aspects of the boy's clothes that various readers have picked up on to identify this boy's nationality.


Bos this age in America generally wore colorful stripped T-shirts. White shorts weremore seen as an undershirt. Tennagers wore white T-shirts, but not to school. One reader points out the banded sleeves, which was more of a European style. I'm not sure as to just which countries in which banded sleveves were worn.

Boxer shorts

Boxer shorts were worn by boys this age in America, but these seem a bit longer than the ones I remember in America. e have noted European boys earing boxer shorts, but we do not yet have information as to national trends. An English readerwrites, "This boy's shorts remind me so much of the ones I wore for my gym class, only mine were of black sateen and these had a sheen to them. I never wore a T-shirt as I didnít much like them. In the film The Loneliest Runner which is described on HBC, there is a scene of a gym class running around an athletic field. The boys are wearing what I think is mauve coloured T-shirts and boxer shorts in the same colour. In the film these were referred to as sweats. In England it would have been PE kit. "


American boys would not have worn socks like these with sandals. American boys did not wear grey socks with sandals or for that matter grey socks very commonly at all. More colorful socks were common in America. These looks like socks commonly worn in England. I'm less sure about other Euopean countries.


Sandls were widely worn by English boys in the 1950s. This style was not worn commonly worn in England, although it is not impossible that an English boy might have been outfitted in foreign sandals. More likely is that the boy is French. Boys in France wore a much widr range of sandal styles than is the case in England. An English reder writes, "For me the suggestion that the boy is French is the sandals. I see now that you mention the grey socks suggesting an English boy,whicn is true. However if it is a French band touring England it is possible that the socks were bought here during the tour.I say this as I recall that the French boy I mentioned borrowed some of my brother's socks and underwear during his stay when my mum was washing his stuff (and didn't like them). If the boy was on tour with his parents' band they would probably have to replace items of clothing like socks periodically which were not too expensive but not items such as sandals. Even the shorts and t-shirt may have been bought in England - the shorts are quite long for the French style at the time and as a reader suggests look like English gym shorts of the time - I'm not sure t-shirts were that common in England until the late 1950s."


An English reader asks, " would like to know what this boy was doing?" HBC thinks this is a good question. We suspect because he isnot holding an instrument that he is going to sing. It is a bit urpring, howevr, that he is not more formally dressed. Our eader writes, "I speculate that he may have been on stage to sing or perhaps do a dance routine and the sandals may have had taps attached to their souls. [HBC doubts if sandals had taps attached.] This picture also brought memories of my own past. When I was the same age as the boy in the photograph, my Mum was a member of a concert party, which would tour what we Brits call a working manís club. I could never go to these events apart from when the concert party did a charity show at church or community centre. I remember one show I went to. I got up out of my seat in the audience and went and sat up on the stage while my Mum was doing some song number. She took my hand and led me back to my seat in the audience telling me that the stage was one place where I couldnít sit. Then she returned and finished her singing." Another reader speculats, "The boy could be casually dressed as these photos are often taking during the rehearsals to avoid disturbing the audience at the performance. Casual clothes are worn during rehearsals and then the band get dressed up for the performance. If singing or dancing the boy would look very different when the show was on.Alternatively he may just be with his parents band on tour and not performing at all - just having his photo taken on stage during an interval - although if this was during the show he'd probably be dressed up to so I speculate this is at rehearsals."


Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main short pants type page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Literary]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: January 4, 2004
Last updated: January 5, 2004