* boys clothing: depictions in television shows

Boys Costumes Depicted in Television Shows

Figure 1.--The son in the English TV series "1990 House" wears a blue sailor hat and long pants suit. Long pants suits were worn, but kneepants suits were more common.

Television programs are generally not as elaborate productions as movies. Budgets often do not pemit such elaborate sets and cotumes for shows with period settings. Television shows set in historical eras, however, often do often accurately show case contemporary fashion. This has proven true in European and Japanese television, and generally in American television. There are some exceptions. For some reason, after the early 1950s, Ameican television programs almost never showed boys in short pants. Television in the third world is rarely reflects popular clothing tgrends, but usually the fashions and life style of the elite and middle class--in many countries a small part of the population.

I am compiling a alphabetized list of television which accurately depict period costuming for boys. I've been so involved with constructing this site that I haven't been able to get to the television list, but it is one of the items on my to do list. Please let me know of any movies and television shows that are good depictions of period dress.

There is a bit of a confusion over just what is a movie and what is a television show. HBC is including made for TV movies under the movie series. This category of television shows will be reserved for weekly series carried on TV.

Chronological Styles

Turn of the Century

Turn of the century clothes are nicely showcased in 1900 House (1999?).

Inter-War Years

Post World War I boys clothes are depicted in at least one segment of the English series Up Stairs Down Stairs (U.K., 1970s?).

Post-War Years

An excellent view of post- boys clothing in America is An excellent view of post-war boys clothing in America is available in: Dennis the Menace (U.S., 1950s), Lassie (U.S., 1950s-60s), Leave it to Beaver (U.S., 1950s), My Three Sons(U.S., 1960s), The Andy Grifith Show (U.S., 1960s), Silver Spoon (1970s), The Brady Brunch (U.S., 1970s), Mr. Majestik (England, 1970s), ??? (1980s), Tool Time (U.S., 1990s), Malcomn in the Middle (U.S., 2000s). We stress that we are only listing some of the best programs here, but all pertinent programs are listed in the alphabetical section.


We have not yet made pages with many subject listings as we have done with movies. This is in part because television programs with children are often family shows rather than written with more thematic approaches. Thus while subjects like bullies, choirs, danceing, holidats, schools, youth groups, and other topics addressed by movies are more likely to be just one or two episodes in a TV series. We have archived made for TV movies in the movie section. A HBC reader has asked about TV programs touching on Schools so we have created a page with the limited information we have. There is also a Brats page. We haven't noticed any TV programs devoted to youth groups. Quite a few TV series, however, had at least one episode devoted to youth groups. As far as we know, however, only one such group has been used in television programs--Scouting or Scout-like groups. And also all the examples we know of are American.

Figure 2.--One of the most beloved Australian children's YV shows is "Skippy"--staring of course a kangaroo. Click on the image for another view.

Country TV Series

Early TV programs were almost never exchanged between countries. I never saw a foreign program on American television until PBS began running English shows in the mid-1960s. Likewise American shows were not shown overseas until they began to take Europe by storm in the 1960s. Television program in different countries vary widely. The American sitcom and adventure series format that have proven so successful in sindication around the world has not been so dominate in other countries. The small home domestiv market in many countries have limited the number of programs that can be produced with quality production standards. This is one reason that American programs so dominate the HBC listings. Another factor is of course that HBC is just not very familiar wkith television programing outside the United States and Britain. We this hope that readers from other countries will provide us information about favorite TV programs. We plan to list on the country pages just some of the best programs. We will, however, list all pertinent programs in the alphabetical section. Many foreign TV series show clothing and school uniforms worn in those countries during specific periods. We will also assess the nature of television programing and viewing in neach country, although the information we have gathered on this is still very limited at this time. There are also many differences as to how TV is organized around the globe. In some countries such as China and Cuba it is entirely controlled bybthe Government. In other countries such as America, television is operated by comercial enterprises. Other countries have varying mixes of state and commercial operaions. In recent years both the internet and satellite TV have complicated governmental operations around the world to control media.

Alphabetical Listing

HBC will list TV series alphabetically here to make them easier to find. TV shows, except for American TV shows, are generally not well know in countries other than in the countries in which they were made. They are also much more current than movies. Almost all TV sghows date from the 1950s at the earliest. Costume dramas have the same problems as in the movies, but a great deal of useful information is avialible from TV shows set in contemporary periods. As non-American TV shows are not as widely distributed as movies, often little information is available on these shows outside each country.

Media Depictions: Garments

Clothing styles are chronicled in television. This is because the great majority of TV programs are set in contemporary times. Thus there is a excellent source of information on popular trends. Usually these shows are accurate depictions. One glaring exception, is that boys on American television, especially the main characters, rarely wore short pants. At this time HBC has a general media depiction page which primarily deals with the U.S. media. As HBC expands we will develop separate pages for specific media like television as well as add information on other countries. We also note clothing being used as parts of gags in commedy shows. Garments also were used in character development.

Children's TV

The TV programs surveyed by HBC include programs in which children are depicted. This means programs about children which are commonly family oriented shows. Children are also depicted in children's programing. A growing body of literature has been devoted to the studying of children's television. Scholars are especially interested on the academic and social impact of watching television, given in the fact that in different countries it is interlaced with commercial and ideological messages. Julia Alexander wrote an interesting paper in 2000 on American Saturday morning advertising and educational programming for children in the 1970s and 80s. An especially valuable source is Timothy and Kevin Burke's Saturday Morning Fever: Growing Up With Cartoon Culture. Spencer Downing has researhed American children's programming from Howdy Doody to Sesame Street. Many other aspects of children's programming are being studied. One scholar reports working on how we remember programs from our childhood, in the recent "resurrection" of programmes like Bagpuss, the Clangers, Rainbow etc which have now acquired something of a cult status, largely among people who are too young to remember their original transmissions! She is interseted in how we remember programmes from childhood, in the recent "resurrection" of programmes like Bagpuss, the Clangers, Rainbow, etc. which have now acquired something of a cult status, largely among people who are too young to remember their original transmissions! As with TV itself, this has varied widely from country to country. In terms of children's TV in the U.K., a good starting points are provided by the various writings or studies edited by Professor David Buckingham.


It is interesting to note that until the more liberated 1970s or even 80s, virtually all the TV-programs with child leads were about boys. Here there are quite a number. Some of the most prominent that come to mind are: Dennis in "Dennis the Menace", Timmy in "Lassie", Beaver and Wally in "Leave it to Beaver", Joey in "Fury", and various boys in "My Three Sons". There were several others. We also note that the serials on the "Mickey Mouse Club" were primarily about boys, series such as "Spin and Marty", "Clint and Mark", and "Gallager". We can think of virtually no programs at all comparable to the programs with boy leads. There were several programs with boy and girl leads or boys and girls in the family, but almost no programs with a girl lead. The only one we can think of at this time is the very forgetable and short-lived "A Date with Judy" (1952-53). We are not sure why there was a gender difference in early TV programing, but a variety of factors occur to us..


HBC of coirse focuses on the costuming shown in television programing and other media. When we review a specific program in detail, we include details about the plot, setting, and other information to put the cotuming in perspective. We also include cast information to assess how actors were costumes in different programs as well as how he dressed reguklarly when not costumed for television and movie roles. We have drawn from a variety of sources for this information.

There are many good printed sources on TV programing, especially American TV programs. The principal source HBC uses is Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows. (Ballentine: New York, 1981). It does not cover foreign programing. The latest bersion is The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946 - Present was published in 2003. It includes a lot of very short run programs and very old programs that may not be listed elsewhere. A lot of early children's programs are listed because they ran in prime time. Now most of the new children's programs seem to be on cable networks like Disney and Nickelodeon.

There are also on-line sources. A comprehensive on line source is TV Chronicles. It is an excellent source with detailed historical information as well as up to date coverage of current programing. Especially useful is information about television in other English speaking countries besides America. HBC does not of any good source, however, on television programing in non-Ebnglish speaking countries. We would be interested if reades know of any such source.


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Created: March 13, 2000
Last updated: 3:00 AM 1/31/2008