Boys' Clothes Styles during the 1950s

American boys experienced another key turning point in their clothing during the 1950s. Boys clothing styles, especially in the first half of the decade, varied greatly between America and Europe. The 1950s was in fact the last decade before the the mass media succeded in developing a trans-Atlantic children's style. Boys clothes were much more varied in the 1950s as the world emerged from the economic hard times of the Depresion and the rationing of the 1940s. Incomes were rising. Most American families in the postwar era could afford much higher expenditures for clothes. Boys instead of having a Sunday suit and a few changes of clothes now acquired several different outfits. (Of course he was still far out classed in the clothes department by his sister.) Families in Britain and some European countries, however, did not all share America's prosperity.

The economy of the post-War years seized upon the new synthetic fibers. These fibers appeared in clothes for both children and adults. The first years of the decade (1950 to 1953) were busy years for manufactured fiber companies. Acrylics were introduced in 1950. Olefin and modacrylic were introduced in 1949 and polyester in 1953. The first version of the Flammable Fabrics Act banned highly flammable fabrics in 1953, partly as a response to the tragedy of "torch sweaters," brushed rayon sweaters that ignited instantaneously. Textile public relations experts during the 1950s wrote of "miracle fibers" and consumers eagerly bought apparel and household textiles made from nylon, polyester, and acrylic fabrics or their blends with natural fibers. Fully automatic washers and dryers made caring for apparel and household textiles easier than ever. Families without washers and dryers could patronize the local launderette. Fabrics made from synthetic fibers gained widespread acceptance and women soon learned to avoid setting high temperature when ironing the new fabrics. "Drip dry" nylon and polyester apparel were promoted heavily for travel, though some consumers found 100 percent synthetics unacceptable because of low absorbency, static electricity buildup, and a feeling entirely different from the familiar natural fibers and rayon. The industry responded with blends and fiber modifications.