Boys' Clothes during the 1920s

The 1920s was a major turning point for boys' fashions. Short pants worn with knee length socks rapidly replaced knee length pants and long stockings. The growing popularity of the Boy Scout uniform played an important role in popularizing shorts. The trend was particularly rapid in England and Continental Europe. Quite old boys were soon wearing short pants suits and sporting bare knees. The length of the shorts became shorter ad shorter on the continent, especially for younger boys. But even some older boys were were wearing thigh- high shorts by the end of the decade. These were suits chosen by parents and not school uniforms. In England shorts remained mostly just above the knees. Older boys of 13 or so would wear longs. Some older English boys wore shrts, but primarily as part of a school uniform. All English and European scouts wore shorts. American boys, except for the younger ones did not join this trend and the knicker suit was the dominante fashion. Even American Boy Scoyts wore knickers. Some older American boys wore short trosers, but primarily boys in wealthy with English or other European connections.

The knitting fever of the war years carried over into civilian life of the 1920s but in soft yarns of lovely colors, in sweaters and caps. Children's clothes were now designed with knee length skirts and shorts, both garments growing shorter and shorter. Boys took to wearing flannel, tweed and serge suits with shirts and scarfs like those of their elders, topped by the beret and also the peaked cloth cap. Girls' dresses were of gay fabrics with flowered, striped and spotted motif.

Boys' pants or trousers through the 1920s had button closures. The BFGoodrich Co. in 1924 registered the name "zipper," although it would be a number of years before this closure was used in any apparel other than overshoes, it would eventually repace buttons.

Most little girls wore their hair short and boys had their heads cropped as soon as they could convince their mothers.

Girls fashions also changed. Small misses wore the beret, the cloche and soft tams.
Girls also began wearing short socks, including the younger teen-agers, hence the name of "bobby-soxers."

Before the 1920s most well-off families had household help to assist with heavy cleaning and the onerous weekly laundering. Availability of servants decreased in the 1920s as immigration was restricted and more women entered the work force. Such help was needed less as labor-saving conveniences such as electricity and running water came to most homes. Also, vacuum cleaners and electric washing machines were readily available. Even so, the increasing participation of women in the work place and the declining availability of servants for all but the wealthiest families were major factors in the popularity of simpler clothing styles for children as well as adults.

Christopher Wagner

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