Norman Rockwell: Saturday Evening Post Covers Illustrating Boys' Fashions during the 1950s

Figure 1.--.

Rockwell sold his first cover painting to the Saturday Evening Post in 1916 and ended up doing over 300 more. The early Post covers provide fascinating glimpses of children clothes. Rockwell was fascinated by children and many of the covered addressed their foibles and nicely illustrated their clothing. The Post covers include all areas of Americana, including presidential portraits. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson sat for him for portraits. He also painted other world figures, including Nassar of Egypt and Nehru of India.

A helpful HBC contributor has nicely cataloges the Rockwell Saturday Evening Post cocers with information about boys clothing. He notes that, "I did not try to include every single cover which has a boy in it. For example, "A Day in the Life of a Boy" does not appear, because it, and other covers I haven't put in here, do not show enough costume details to be interesting. I also exclude a few showing boys on the borderline of adulthood wearing clearly adult outfits.

Note: HBC contributors are incouraged to submit additional pertiment details about these covers, and the fashions illustrated, that thet may have noted.

HBC Synopsis

Rockwell painted several interesting covers, but far fewer than the more productive 1920s and 30s. Knickers have disappeared. Notably a boys wears a short pants suit to church in 1953, but by 1959 a boy attending church is wearing long pants.

The Covers

Here is the details on the covers provided by the HBC contributor. The chronological organization provides a useful time line reflecting fashion chnges and can be compared with the chronological information available on U.S. boys clothing.

October 21, 1950 "The Coin Toss"

Two gangly youths in period football uniforms watch the coin being tossed by the ref.

November 18, 1950 "The Trumpeter"

A boy of about ten is practicing his trumpet in an easy chair, not too well, judging by his dog's reaction. He's wearing a purple short sleeve sport shirt, brown long pants, brightly colored socks, and brown shoes.

July 14, 1951 "The Facts of Life"

Boy and his dad are having "that talk". Kid is wearing striped T-shirt, grey slacks, white socks and hightops.

November 24, 1951 "Saying Grace"

Another very famous painting, a boy and his grandmother say grace in a shabby, crowded restaurant as onlookers watch respectfully. Boy is wearing white shirt and black pants that have buttons in back.

March 29, 1952 "At the Vet's"

Boy sits with his dog in crowded waiting room. Boy wears striped sweater over collared shirt, jeans, white and red socks, brown shoes (one untied).

April 4, 1953 "Sunday Morning"

Family walks to church through inner city. The two boys are each wearing light blue short pants suits, with matching cap. Each wears black shoes--younger boy wears white ankle socks; older wears striped ankle socks. Their father wears a long pants suit of the same color, with a hat rather than a cap.

April 17, 1954 "The Choirboy"

A young choirboy in a red and white choir outfit carefully combs his hair. Visible below his robes are fallen-down striped socks and scuffed brown shoes.

August 21, 1954 "Progress?"

Three lads are arguing with a construction worker who has come to destroy the vacant lot where they play baseball. One boy wears a baseball uniform; a second overalls; a third an open necked shirt and jeans.

May 19, 1956 "The Optometrist"

Young boy is getting first pair of glasses. He wears sweatshirt, rolled up to elbows, over red shirt (collar is showing), jeans, sneakers, red-white-and-black-diamoned socks, and baseball cap currently secured under his belt.

December 29, 1956 "The Discovery"

Classic shot of boy (wearing white pajamas with faded dark stripes) with shocked expression on face, having just discovered Santa Claus outfit in Dad's dresser drawer.

March 15, 1958 "Before the Shot"

Another well known classic, this of a boy standing on a chair in his doctor's office, lowering his blue jeans for a shot in the buttocks while examining the doctor's diploma on wall. He wears a sleeveless undershirt as well, Also visible in area are items of boy's winter outerwear--blue coat, blue cap with ear flaps, green mittens, yellow scarf.

September 20, 1958. "The Runaway"

Another well known classic, showing a cop and a young boy sitting at two stools in a diner. Cop has evidently apprehended the runaway (bundle of belongings on stick visible on floor) and is taking him for a milkshake before returning him home. Boy wears yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, white socks, brown shoes.

May 16, 1959 "Easter Morning"

Family is marching out of door on way to church--all except Dad, who, with a guilty expression on face, is in his easy chair and wearing pajamas, reading the paper. Mom and the two girls are ignoring Dad, the boy (wearing a gray long pants suit with bow tie, matching cap, black shoes) glances at Dad out of the corner of his eye.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: January 1, 2000
Last updated: Janyuary 1, 2000