*** United States boys first communion suit: 20th century inter-war years

United States First Communion Suits: 20th Century Inter-War Years (1920s-30s)

First Communion knickers suit
Figure 1.--American boys by the 1920s commonly wore knicker suits for First Communion. The knickers varied with the current fashions. This photograph was taken in 1925 when knickers buckling below the knee were becoming standard.

We have noted many images of American boys taking their First Communion during the inter-War period. Boys wore mostly solid-colored suits, bith dark and white. A few boys wore Eton collrs and some boys wore bows in the 1920s. Regular collars amd neckties were more common in the 1930s. Most boys appear to have worn knickers, especially in the 1920s. Short pants becom more common in the 1930s. Relatively few boys wore long pants. Some boys in the early 1920s appear to have worn long stockings, but we note more and more boys wearing kneesocks as the decade progressed.


We have little definative chronological information available as this time, primarily becuse few of the available image are actually dated. We have made some general chromnolgical assessment of trends based on an estimates of images used in this section. We note in the inter-war years boys wearing a range of First Communion outfits. We see many white suits. I am not sure about the jacket styles yet. We do see a variety of pants style, including knicker, short, and long pants suits. Short pants outfits first became common in the 1920s, but we also see knicker suits. . We do not have any image of kneepants suits, but am sure they were worn in the early 1920s. One notable change from the pre-World War I era was some boys, but certainly not all, did their First Communion in dress shirts without suit jackets. Often these outfits were decided by the local Church so the children were all dressed alike for the service.


Boys mostly wore knicker suits for First Communion. Both dark and white suits werevworn. Some boys wore short pants or long pants suits, but the knicker suits were most common. American boys commonly wore single breasted suits for First Communion. Some suits, however, were made in the double breasted style. Often a boy received a new dark suit as was common in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Beginning in the late 1920s it became increasingly common to buy a regular suit that could be worn for many other occassions rather than a special First Communion suit. Some of the suits were white to match the white dresses worn by the girls. White knee socks were worn with the white suits. Well dressed boys still wore Eton collars in the early 1920s, especially for dress occasins. Some boys even wire floppy bows with their Eton collars which were worn with both white and dark colored suits. The Eton collar was, however, rapidly being replaced by more comfortable modern-looking soft collars. Even in the 1930s Eton colars were still worn. Younger boys continued to wear collar bows in the early 1920s, but much smaller than before World War I. White bows were the most common. Bowties and neckties began to appear in the 1920s. Floppy collar bows were much less common by the mid-1920s and rarely seen by the end of the decade. Most First Communion suits had knickers. Early in the 1920s, above the knee knickers were often worn, usually with long stockings. Knickers that bloused out were sometimes called "plus fours" (especially in England). Some boys had long pants suits, but they were not nearly as common as the knicker suits. The long pants suit were rarely all white, presumably because there would be little use forvan all white long pants suit after the First Communion service. Long pants suits became more common in the 1940s, although gradually after the 1940s boys began wearing more informal outfits for First Communion, white shirts and slacks instead of a suit. Girls continued to wear very formal white dresses. During the inter-war era, however, long pants were not very common for First Communion, especially in the 1920s. Some boys wore short pants suit, but in America the knicker suits were much more common than was the case in Europe The short pants suit were often white suits worn with white kneesocks. The white short pants suits appear to have been more common than white knicker suits. More commonly the knicker suits were dark suits. HBC is not sure wehy this was, but may be because white short pants suits were more commonly purchased specifically for the First Communion service. Boys by the 1920s were mostly wearing oxfords with their suits. We have noted some boys still wearing hightop shoes in the early 1929s, but low-cut oxfords became more common even before the mid-20s. They almost always were black oxfords, except with white suits when white shoes would normally be worn. Almost always oxfords were worn with white suits.


We see American boys wearing mostly dark suits for First Communion in the early 20th century. Dark suits continued to be popular in the inter-War era. We are not yet sure what color the dark suits were. We think that probably dark blue was more common than black, but we are yet positive about this. White suits appeared in the early 20th century and we see even more in the inter-War era. Outfits were either dark suits or white suits and other outfits. We do not notice other colors being worn. We see quite a range of white outfits. There were knicker suits. We also notice boys wearing bloyses, floppy bows, knee pants, and white stockings. This was more common in the 1910s, but we still see it in the early 20s as a kind of group outfit. Gradually we begin to see boys wearing short pants suits whoch were common by the late 20s. Here the white suits were more common with short pants, but knickers were more common for the dark suits. We notice both dark and white suits. Short pants suits seem the most common, but we note white knickers suits as well. suits.

Individual Accounts

We are beginning to collect some information and images about First Communion ceremonies and outfits in the inter-war era. We note the knickers suit and high-top sjoes Jim Ruffato was wearing during 1922 in rural South Dakota. We do not have any information about Frank Sinatra's First Communion, but we have a portrait showing his First Communion suit about 1923 in New Jersey.


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Created: December 15, 1998
Last edited: 10:28 PM 1/28/2014