Long Pants Suits

Boys since the introduction of sailor suits and skeleton suits in the 18th Century have worn long trouser suits. Long trouser suits of various forms were common in the early 19th Century, although boys night wear a lace collared tunic over long trousers before graduating to a proper suit. After mid-Century knee pants became more common. American catalogs in the 1880s tended to show knee pants suits through 12 years of age and long pants suit begining at 10 years of age. By the end of the Century boys it was increasingly common for teenagers to be dressed in knee pants suits. Many boys might spend many of their teen years in knee pants. This varid greatly from family to family, but for teenage boys in knee pants, receiving their first long pants suit became a major rite of passage. This situation was commom in America, England, and Europe up to the First World War. After the war, fashion standards became much more diverse.

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. Eventually vitually all pabts would have zipper rather than button closures.

American boys after the War generally wore knickers. Younger boys might wear shorts, especially during the summer. Some wealthy families, especially those with British connections, might also choose shorts for their boys. Another group which was more likely to wear shorts were European immigrants from countries where even older boys commonly wore short pants and knee socks. American boys through the 1930s, howver, most commonly wore knickers. Some boys wore knickers to at least the first years of high school. In the 1920s even older boys might wear knickers, sometimes through high school. Most boys looked forward longingly to the day when they would get their first long pants suit. After the 1930s long pants suits became increasingly common. Younger boys and boys from more affuent familes might wear short pants suits , especially if they went to private chools. Most boys, however, wore long pants suits. Americam public schools did not require uniforms and then had no influence on wether boys wore shorts or longs.

English boys by the 1920s were almost uniformily outfitted in short pants, with knee length shorts. Most boys, hower, receved a long pants suit in their early teens. Older boys wore shorts, but this was usually their school uniform and the school, not the parents, insisted on shorts. Boys of all economic classes wore shorts. Wealthy boys when they were young might be dressed in kilts or blouses with lace collars, but in many cases they might get their first long pants suit earlier than boys of more modest means. This is in part because less wealthy boys might not have a suit and rather wore their school uniform for dress up ocassions. earlier than poor or middle class boys.

European boys wore short pants suit much more commonly than British and especially American boys. The choice to keep their sons in shorts, in many cases well into their teens was the parents's choice. Wearing shorts on the cotinent had less to do with schools than in Britain. Younger teenage boys on the Continent could be seen which would never be the case in either Britain or the United States. Much older boys could be seen in short pants suits on the continent than in Britain. The length of shorts on the Continent rapidly became shorter during the 1920s. By the 1930s-40s, Europen boys, even older boys, could be seen wearing much shorter shorts than British boys.

Christopher Wagner


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