The popular blazer now commonly worn by boys first appeared in England during the 1880s at fashionable public (private secondary) schools. It became popular at British school as sports wear, especially for cricket. (Leave it to the English to dress up in a blazer for sports.) The jacket was initially flannel, striped in bright colors, and included a patch pocket where the school shield appeared. One fashion columnist wrote in the The Lady's World (1887),

The stripped flannel jackets, under the familiar name "blazer" brilliant in coloring, created for the river and the cricket field are worn on nearly all occasions now by girls and boys.

Blazers gradually became the standard dress for British school boys. It spread from the public schools to the preparatory (private elementary) schools. The blazer and shirts with soft collars generally replaced Eton suits and collars during the 1920s. British school boys in the 1920s began wearing short grey pants and knee socks with their blazers. The blazers and required peaked caps were often bright colors or stripped, giving us the current image of the traditional English school uniform. This style continued in vogue through the 1960s. Shorts with blazers were the standard dress at prep schools and even some of the secondary schools. Shorts and caps became less common during the 1970s, except for smaller boys. The blazers have, however, continued as standard wear, although they have become plainer. This is primarily due to the hight cost of the very extensive wardrobe once common at private schools. Many schools in an effort to broaden their appeal to middle class parents have attempted to simplify the uniform requirement.

Blazers also appeared at American private schools, as in England, initially for sport. The style became increasingly popular in the 1930s as a less formal style of dress wear for boys. It was quite common by the 1950s for American boys to have a blue blazer as part of their basic wardrobe. Some boys might wear short grey pants with their blazer, but most boys, especially by he 1960s, wore them with long grey pants. Penny loafers often completed the ensamble. An optional style appeared during the 1970s of wearing chino or kaki pants instad of grey ones. Fashionable younger boys might wear chino shorts.

Note: Space limitations do not permit me to provide more information on blazers or historical photographs. There is, however a great deal of additional information and many historical photographs on the expanded Boys Historical Clothing web site. For details click here >>>>>> Expanded Site.

Christopher Wagner

Related Chronolgy Pages in the Boys' Historical Web Site
[ 1880s] [ 1930s] [ 1950s] [ 1960s] [ 1980s]