The "Our Gang" productions are fascinating glimpses into American children's clothing, "Our Gangs" fils were made over quite a few years and thus provide a wonderful view of children's clothes in America during the 1920s and 30s. Some of the films were also shot in the 1940s. Some of the episodes even work the clothing into the story line. HBC is unsure as to how the children were costumed. Unfortunately we have no details at this time on just how the productions were costumed. This would be interesting information to have and we would be interested in what readers might know on the subject. They often wore rather ragged clothes, but as they were well paid for their acting this had to be costuming. They were dressed upo for some scenes or had characters who might be dressed up. Some of the fancier clothes, howevr, could have been clothes they actually wore.
HBC is unsure as to how the children in the "our Gang" dilms were costumed. Unfortunately we have no details at this time on just how the productions were costumed. This would be interesting information to have and we would be interested in what readers might know on the subject. Some pf the children wore rather ragged clothes, but as they were well paid for their acting this had to be costuming. They did not receive really high salaries, but it was enough to support the families involved. They were dressed up for some scenes or had characters who might be dressed up. Some of the fancier clothes may also have been costumes. But often they wore clothes that seem similar to what average kids were wearing at the time. We suspect that many of the children came to the shoots in their own clothes and that they were costumed only if the plot required some kind of garment or special look.
This image of the "Our Gang" kids was used in an advertisement in The Youth's Companion. It appeared in the September 2, 1926 number (p. 632). This was just when children would be
buying school supplies for their fall classes. YJe image reminds us that for the first half of the 20th century that there were no ballpoints. School children had desks with ink wells, where bottles of ink were placed. (With kids the potential for devilment was large.) Most kids had pens that were tyhen dipped in the ink bottle place in the inkwell. A real status symbo was your own fountain pen that did not need to be dipped. The problem with fountain pens was that kids kept losing them. The advertisement here is of the "Ingersoll Dollar Pen" manufactured by the Chas. H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen Company, 185 Astor Street, Newark, New Jersey. Presumably the pen cost a dollar. Remember that in 1926 a dollar was a nice piece of cash. Probably about $25 or more in moder terms. This ad is of considerable historical significance. One interesting aspect of this image is that it is virtually the only adverisement from the early 20th century that we can think of in which a black child was used, other than images presenting racial characteristics in a derisive way. We do not begin to see this again in American main-stream media ads until the late 1960s. Of course the inclusion of a black boy here was only possible because he is in a group and a film star. This advertisement and "Our Gang" in general is surprising given the fact that the 1920s was one of the most vicious periods for race batting in America. The Ku Klux Klan in the early 1920s had spread to the northern states and clkaimed 4 million members.
A HBC reader has submitted the image here from "Our Gang". It seems to me an interesting film image from a very early period--1926--with some important social implications. I suspect that this image is a promotion photo for the series
rather than a shot from an actual "Our Gang" short film. It appeared in The Youth's Companion (1926). The four boys and the girl all wear what Hollywood regarded as typical school clothes of the period. There is remarkable variety, probably more variety than would actually have been the case for real school children of 1926--at least school children from a single local school. Of course we do not know to what extent the children were costumed as opposed to their own clothes. But the styles seem more or less accurate.
Farina: Farina, the black boy, is racially stereotyped and wears more disreputable clothes than the others--torn and tattered bib overalls with one of his shoulder straps slipping off and the legs of his pants held together with patches and buttons. Here we believe that this is definitely a costume. Farina would have received a good salary and he and his gamily would have been able to afford nice clothing. Also notice the Afro haircut.
Jackie: Jackie wears short pants (beltless apparently) but without buttons to hold them up, a shirt with a rounded collar (almost Eaton style), and a floppy bow. He wears dark knee socks. One aspect that seems rather inaccurate is the boy's long hair. Short hair was much more common foir boys at the time--especially school age boy.
Mary: The "Our Gang" series normally focused on the exploits of the boy characters. And here we see only one girl along with four boys. Mary wears what looks like a gingham dress with a pattern around the skirt, knee socks, and sandals.
Mickey: Mickey (notice the strap with the school books) wears above-the-knee knickers held up by suspenders, a long-sleeved shirt with a rather grown-up but rumpled collar and a boldly striped necktie (like the school ties of many private schools although the image here is meant to be a public school with a range of children from affluent to very impoverished). He also wears dark knee socks. Notice the rakish felt hat with the brim pushed back.
Fatty Joe: Fatty Joe, another stereotype that would be considered insensitive by today's standards, wears a sailor cap, a long-sleeved shirt with floppy bow tie, dark short pants (again beltless--but maybe with an elastic waist), long black stockings obviously held up by hose supporters, and hightop shoes. Fatty Joe's clothes seem perhaps slightly more archaic than those of his schoolmates.
The "Our Gang" productions are fascinating glimpses into American children's clothing, "Our Gangs" fils were made over quite a few years and thus provide a wonderful view of children's clothes in America during the 1920s and 30s. Some of the films were also shot in the 1940s. Some of the episodes even work the clothing into the story line. Of course the clothing is supposed to be part of the comedy--a
way of individualizing the children in an amusing and memorable way, as though they were figures from a comic strip, but a certain degree of realism seems to be intended. All of these varied styles can be confirmed from actual photographs of American school children of the 1920s.
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main "Our Gang" page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Advertisements] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Theatricals]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [Essays] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web style pages:
[Return to the Main American movie page]
[Return to the Alphabetical "Om-Oz" movie page]
[Short pants suits] [Blazers] [Collars] [Lace collars] [Ruffled collars] [Peter Pan collars] [Fauntleroy suits]
[Sailor suits] [Ring bearer/page costumes] [First Communion suits]