Shorts: A Coming Fashion

- English Mode for Boys Scheduled to Supplant Knickers During Current Year
- Boys Demand Bare-Knee Effect
- Cap to Match Rough Tweed or Homespun Suit
- Golf Leggings or "Rolled Top

DURING past years the boys' trade in this country has been like a ship without a rudder, so far as fashions are concerned, tossing aimlessly, fully equipped, but heading nowhere in particular; uncertain, careless at times as to the outcome, and always eager for a safe haven, but not able to attain it. In other words, the trade was leaderless.

This magazine, heavily handicapped, as it has been, in its "mewling" days, will co-ordinate ideas and set things straight. We shall soon have controversies in the trade as to whether a boy of ten should wear a vestee suit or whether a boy of fifteen should wear an Eton jacket-or a Tuxedo at his birthday party, and such matters of proper usage. But, vastly more important, we shall see the boys' departments take on new life and interest under the inspiration of the only leadership in the field: and, equally important, the trend of fashion will be sensed and chronicled and the production of novel, artistic and smart creations will become a matter of pride among designers and tailors.

It is one thing to record a tendency when it develops; it is quite another to predict the near advent of an entirely new and unexpected fashion. The latter I am doing this month, confident that events will shortly bear out my views.

In brief, I venture to prophesy that during Nineteen Twenty we shall witness the successful introduction of short pants, otherwise known as "shorts." in boys' school and play suits. Prominent students of boys' fashions agree with my prediction. The subject is so interesting that I am giving these two pages to it alone.

Well do I remember the "shorts" of my boyhood days; tight-fitting things that bound the muscles of my thighs so that after riding a bicycle, say to Brighton Beach. I would look upon them and marvel that they did not burst apart.

But the "shorts" that have been known hereabouts in recent years are those which the Boy Scouts have as a part of their regulation outfit. They are almost as loose as running pants, but of course in khaki, and they are used for the big outdoors, being too loose and light in weight to look well for any dignified occasion.

The "shorts" that I believe will soon appear on the market are of the sort pictured opposite, a cross between the snug-fitting pants of unhappy memory and the modern khakis of sport. The length of them is to a point just above the bend of the knee. And that, apart from the boy's fondness for easy garments, which are best adapted romping, is one reason for heralding them as a coming fashion. The boy of today wants to wear leggings and to have his knees bare during the warmer months.

This desire has been apparent in recent summers, when many boys have worn knickers fastened above the knee and leggings, though the two clearly do not go well together. Knees bend easier when there's nothing on them, you know, and that's what boys' knees are doing most of the time during waking hours.

"Shorts" of this type have been worn by English boys for about thirty years. Just occasionally one sees them on this side when an English boy has crossed the deep, but that has been extremely rare even since the armistice. Now we may expect the more enterprising shops to be showing and advertising them before the spring season is over, as the most advanced note in boys' dress.

Our artist was of English birth, and his portrayal here is just what he has beheld scores of times as the clothes of the upper class boy of London. When the writer suggested showing the boy without a jacket, so that the details of the shirt and the fact that the pants have no back pockets might be apparent, he remonstrated. No, no; an English boy would not think of appearing out-of-doors without his jacket on, and we must start our fashion articles with the highest possible standard of good form in mind, just as we have done in compiling the Correct Dress Chart for Boys.

And there's something in that. We don't think American boys care a fig whether English boys wear their jackets always or not, nor will they change their custom of shedding the jacket for all strenuous games and whenever it becomes oppressive. But we'll have to hand it to the English boy and to his portrait artist for the smartness of his get-up. The more I have looked at this picture the better I have come to like it.

The cap shown is full of crown, in a rough tweed or homespun material to match his suit. The suit has low, self attached collar, patch pockets and sleeves, detachable just above the elbows. For spring the best wear in cravats will be bias striped four-in-hands in bright contrasting colors.

The stockings with the suit will be either golf legging with the heavy cuff top, of Scottish woolens, or plain black stockings rolled down below the knee as in the sketch on page 24 of this issue. The shoes will be heavy brogues, much perforated, of dark brown or black.

One particular reason why I am glad to see this new mode in the making is that the way the older boys wear their knickers nowadays is getting on my nerves. It seems that in the peculiar code of their clan, "only kids wear their knickers fastened below the knees." The older boys pull them down below the knees, making an unsightly effect for which they were never intended. The new "shorts" will remove this practice for all time-I hope.

The Boys' Outfitter, April, 1920

Usage Critical in England

Article from The Boys' Outfitter

LONDON-Juvenile outfitting in this old country differs fundamentally from what you find anywhere else in the world.. The shirt-waist boy of America, for instance, is unknown. Boys take off jacket and waistcoat for games-or a fight. But they do not go to the cricket field or any other scene of sport in the clothes which they will wear during the game. , There is no necessity, we think here, to walkthrough the streets, or even along a country road, in what an English boy would consider only half a suit or less. Soft shirts are worn at school, by boys of almost any age; and nowadays, as soon as a boy reaches the collar period at all, he puts on a soft collar, if there isn't one attached to his shirt, for all occasions except when he is being dragged off by his mother or sisters to some abhorred social duty. .Then he wears what he calls "Etons"-equivalent to the morning-coat outfit of his father-of which more anon. From the moment a boy leaves the nursery-and-long-hair period behind him his costume is largely determined by the convenience with which it can be cast off for formal games, and worn in the playground for games that are informal. Sporting costume is a strict and conventional thing. We do not go in for the protective devices used in America for baseball and football, though leg pads and gloves are worn by the batsman at cricket. Baseball we do not play at all, though there is a poor and undeveloped embryo of it in the playground, played with a soft ball and called rounders. I notice that a real, unadulterated American baseball fan becomes angry when told that baseball is only a glorified form of rounders-but it is.

Outfit for the Cricket Field

As often as not the wicket-keeper does not wear gloves. He catches better, and not worse, without them. Cricket, you must remember, is an almost religious ceremony here, To my mind it is one of the silliest games ever invented, and I never thought otherwise, even before I saw a baseball match, though it would have been bad policy, at a public school, to say so. American writers have complained of the slowness of a game in which a single player often makes' a hundred runs, and a side, of eleven players, 600. They also remark with acerbity 'that we say, "well played, sir," when we mean "attaboy." The implications are .the same. In the mid-Victorian age men played cricket in tall hats. Pictures in color of side-whiskered veterans in wide trousers, stiff collars, starched shirts-and ridiculously high hats of grey felt, stovepipe shape, adorn every clubhouse. Boys of a public school-in this country the term means one of a very small number of schools, all of ancient foundation, attended by the sons of the wealthy-wore tall hats at cricket, too. ^ Nowadays the outfit.'-is a pair of white flannel trousers, kept up by a wide silk-ribbon belt of the school colors, a silk shirt, white buckskin shoes with spikes or studs to prevent slipping, and a flannel cap, again of the club colors, but not always worn during play. Boys change into this costume in the pavilion at big inter-school matches. At house-matches they commonly arrive ready to play, having "changed" in the dormitories. Cricket owes more to inspiration than to perspiration. But after all games an English boy takes a cold shower and gets into loose clothes.

Short Knickers for Football

Football, which, as a game, is worth ten of cricket, is played in short flannel knickers with perfectly plain ends, bare legs, heavy hob-nailed half-boots of chrome leather, and a jersey. It necessitates a complete change before and after play, especially after, as a serious player, particularly of the Rugby game, is liable to have little of him visible, for mud, when the whistle blows "time." A very complete bath, with soap, is therefore indicated. Football in the Winter, and cricket in the Summer, are the only games treated seriously at good-class schools. Lawn tennis is beginning to be introduced, but schools do not challenge each other as yet. Lacrosse and hockey are, strange to say, girls' games here.

The two official games are played as an integral part of the school curriculum and in the playing-field. But inferior versions of them, and less august games, are played in the school playground, especially in the lesser public schools and in boarding schools which, though they may be just as expensive to attend, do not rank as "public." It is for convenience in starting one of these games with scratch teams that a boy's ordinary working outfit for school life is designed in soft, loose-fitting styles.

First the Velveteen Fauntleroy

It may be convenient, in this preliminary letter, to follow an English boy through his sartorial career-if yon will excuse, just for once, the detestable adjective.

When he is, as we call it, breeched-that is, when he ceases to wear frocks--3. well-to-do child who will presently become a boy is generally put into a velveteen suit, rather of the Fauntleroy order, and wears his hair long, A lace collar, and perhaps cuffs, adorn him, to his discomfort when he meets boys of slightly lower social status. In the Summer the suit may be of shantung silk. Boys of less wealthy origin often wear horrid little suits of striped galatea-a kind of stout cotton, rather like a bolster case--in hot weather, and a waistcoatless cloth suit in Winter. Both, in Winter, will wear a short overcoat, half-way down the thigh, and long buttoned gaiters, like Edna May in "The Belle of New York," if you haven't forgotten it, to reach to the same point upwards.

Sailor Suit Is Next Step

The next step, but never until the hair is cut, is usually to the sailor suit, and on this subject a very important remark must be set down. No English mother of any standing would allow her boy to wear what, in the cheaper trade, is called a "fancy" sailor suit-made with sailor-style blouse and large collar, but in silk or velveteen. A sailor suit isn't correct unless it is made of blue serge with long trousers, which can be either white duck or blue serge, matching the blouse. Similarly, the collar can be either of duck or of serge, with the lines of braiding on it of blue or white in contrast. Little boys wear these with knickerbockers and the legs in that case are always bare.

But the sailor suit goes further than I have been saying. Of course it is not the only available outfit for a little boy coming out of frocks. He can have a Norfolk or what we call a Rugby suit, and this will have either knickerbockers or breeches, and in either case will be worn. with stockings.

The sailor suit really comes into its own and is the correct wear for a good many years when it takes on the authentic sailor style, made of real Admiralty serge, designed in regulation style, and fitted with all the navy attachments. The children of the Royal Family in all its branches invariably wear sailor suits of this type during the years when they are of the right age for. it. Two firms-Rowe of Gosport and Morant of Southampton--specialize in these correct-style sailor suits. Rowe has a fine place in Bond Street, selling all kinds of juvenile outfits, but specializing on the sailor suit. Both firms are actual contractors to the Admiralty for serge, which, according to Admiralty requirements, must be of pure new wool and dyed with natural indigo.

The suit includes such things as lanyard, pocketknife, whistle, and a large-brimmed soft hat of the man-o'-war pattern. Although worn by boys who would not be in long trousers ordinarily and do not wear long trousers with their Norfolk suits, these correct sailor suits are never made with knickers, and the trousers are made in the generous width made famous by' the navy. It is possible to tell a little gentleman at sight when he wears a sailor suit. There is never anything wrong with the details.

The Eton His Formal Dress

Just as a boy wears long trousers as soon as he gets into a sailor suit, so also he wears long trousers when he gets his first formal outfit, which we call an Eton suit. This consists for day wear of a black jacket and waistcoat, the waistcoat generally having a special collar and the jacket being of the regular Eton type. It is hollowed out round the lower hem, with a sort of point in the middle. Americans who see these things for the first time call them Manx coats. They look so much as if they ought to have tails but do not have any. Grey tweed or cashmere trousers are worn and a stiff white shirt, never a colored shirt.

The linen collar is, a very large turned-down pattern, never, I think, varying, and called the Eton collar, and it is put on over and outside the collar of the jacket. Usually a black silk knot is worn, or else a knot of school colors. The essentially correct headgear is a tall hat, much like a man's, but with the brim rather close. A straw boater is sometimes worn, however, and you may occasionally see a flannel cap of school colors, though this should not be worn.

A properly-made Eton suit, custom-made by father's tailor, is the mark of the young aristocrat. As I have said, it is always worn with long trousers, no matter how small the boy. A tiny little chap of seven in these long trousers. and with the tall hat, looks funny to the unaccustomed eye, but undoubtedly he does look a little gentleman. I think it may be said as a general rule that the higher the class of the family the sooner long trousers are worn. Evening Suit of Broadcloth

For parties an evening suit, with black trousers, Eton jacket and a black waistcoat, cut almost as low as a man's evening waistcoat, is worn by boys from ten years upwards until they: go into tails. Then they wear a white tie with the ends under the collar. This suit is usually made of that obsolete material, broadcloth, not in twill or hopsack, like a man's evening suit. Low shoes of patent leather and silk socks go with it.-THE BARON.

Christopher Wagner

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