Norman Rockwell: Clothing Depictions

Figure 1.--Here we see a boy in 1921 having his portrait taken with his baby brother. The illustration was used for a 1921 "Saturday Evening Post" cover.

One especially notable aspect of Rockwell's work is the meticulous detail in his drawings. As a result his body of work represents a woinderful albeit idealized view of American families and life style. His work also provides a rich archive of clothing styles over time. Because he drew with such fine detail, his drawings are a rich source of information on the clothing worn during the decades in which Rockwell was active. Many illustrators produced charming although often not accurate images. This was decidedly not the case of Rockwell. His illustrations are not only charming and detailed but very accurate as well.


Here is a typical Roclwell illustration. Note the details in the depiction of the clothing. This charming Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell (dated 9 July 1921): "Watch the Birdie." The boy, holding the screaming baby on his knee (perhaps his little brother), is being photographed in a studio. Note the typical head rest at the back to keep the boy's head steady during the photographic session. He is obviously dressed up in his best suit for the occasion with an uncomfortable-looking high stiff detachable collar and small bow tie. He has a white handkerchief tucked into his breast pocket and his hair has been slicked down with some sort of greasy pommade. He wears above-the-knee knickers with long black stockings and hightop polished shoes. You can see the clasp of his hose supporter showing just under his knickers above his right knee. He looks doubly unhappy--first, because he has had to get so uncomfortably dressed up for the photographic session, and, second, because the baby in a romper suit is so difficult to control (apparently frightened by the photographer and the strange setting). The boy seems to be about 13 or 14 years old.

Reader Comments

A HBC reader writes, "A good example of how meticulously detailed Rockwell was is the small hole we can see in his stocking. It is clear that he wears longjohns under his long stockings. With all his warm stuff and the baby crying , I can understand how he can feel distressed."


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Created: 6:31 PM 12/3/2004
Last updated: 7:22 PM 12/3/2004