My family was thrifty,working class. My mum did not work and so was
at home all the time to look after us. As a boy growing up during the early 1950's in
southeastern England (Kent) ,I don't remember being
clothes conscious. In fact I don't think boys in general gave a great deal of thought
to clothes, unlike boys today.
All my friends and I were dressed the same. In retrospect rather drably compared
to modern terms. We wore grey long socks , long baggy flannel short trousers and my shirts
were the blouse type with long sleeves. I don't think I had any with a tail and
certainly no T shirts.
The short trousers that we wore were virtually the same as any picture
of an English school boy of the 1950's inshape and length, in other
Material: I remember some shorts I had around 7-9 were a woolen flannel mixture and although lined with cotton used to make the insides of my legs sore where they chaffed. Some shorts were a more friendly rayon worsted fabric.
Pockets: They all had side pockets-how else could you look scruffy if you couldn't put your hands in your pockets?
Belts/braces: Some of my shorts had belt loops. Others were partley elasticated at the sides with button front and flies. Until about age 8 some of my shorts were worn with braces. The shorts were fitted with buttons outside the waist for attachment. A minor desirable item for your trousers was a snake belt. This was an inch or so wide, striped, adjustable elasticated belt that buckled together with a hook shaped and stamped like an 'S' on its side.]
We boys never really noticed the length of the shorts. I remember
one of my friends sometimes wore khaki shorts, especially during the
summer, that were quite brief and I vaguely remember how
much smarter he looked in them. At one time there was a vogue when
wearing ordinary khaki shorts to wear them with the legs turned up to
make them shorter.
I had two brothers, slightly younger and my mother was a very good all
round dressmaker and knitter so quite a lot of our clothes were made for us
and of course patched and repaired when neccersary. Mother made no
distinction in our clothes that I remember, even though I was older than my brothers.
Mum was always knitting and the wool in those days was always supplied in skiens that had to be rewound into a tight balls for practical convinience.
I rember having to hold these skiens with outstreched arms while mother
wound it into a tight ball. The only things knitted for us
were jumpers,pullovers,and cardigans and as baby's bootys etc.
I started infants school at age 5. We didn't wear uniforms at that age.
No uniform was needed until at age 7 I moved to primary school. The
uniform there was an optional school cap. As I remember there was a
plain green blazer worn with short or long trousers and any shoes and
At age 11 years I changed moved again to secondary school. The
uniform was optional, a dark, plain maroon blazer short or long trousers
and cap. I turned up the first morning wearing a cap and had comments
from 1 or 2 boys that I knew about wearing one. Until then I had
never heard comments that I can remember about the clothing that I wore.
The cap was dispensed with forthwith never to be seen again.
I never joined the cubs or scouts but the uniforms of my friends who
did was usually the same as worn for school with a couple of additions.
Garters were worn under the turned down top of the long grey socks these
elastic garters had a couple of green tabs about 2 inches
long sticking out under the turnup. A green cub cap and green woollen
jumper with various badges sown on completed the outfit.
Shoes were quite ordinary lace ups and I wore sandals with crepe
soles in the summer. Sandals were quite acceptable for play and school
and were quite comfortable. I wore them until about 8-9.
I always had a facination with shoes that had steel tipped heals
that some people wore,I liked the noise they made when walking but I never
managed to get a pair myself.
We had rubber Wellington boots for the usual (in those days) winter
I wore mostly turn-over-top socks. I think some had a dark band at the
turn-over tops. Mum being thrifty, darned all my socks after I wore
holes in them, particularly the heels. In summer I wore short grey
socks or none somtimes, especially when wearing sandals.
Outer wear that I had for the colder months is a bit difficalt to recall;I had at
various times until about age 11 a rubberised raincoat, a "windcheater"
this was a thin rubberised fabric jacket style,hoodless zipperd coat
gathered at the waist , and later after some pestering a duffle coat which I
wore home afer puchase with the hood up although the weather that early
evening was not cold.
Head wear was very little; at age 5 on starting school I had a cap to wear
chosen by me for the very bright colourful badge-motiff on the front.I
remember at about 8-9 seeing other boys wearing wearing a thin
leatherette flying helmet style hat that did up under the chin which I thought
desireable ,and after getting one wearing it about twice before realising
how uncomfortable it felt to have my head covered.
I wore short trousers all the time summer and winter I don't remember
having any long trousers to wear. Eventually at about 10 I was given my first
pair of denim jeans and they were fairly good thick quality.After putting
them on I remember now my feeling of how protected my knees felt,it was a
never to be forgotten experience.My younger by 2 years brother, for some
reason had a pair of jeans about 6 months before me.
My first pair of long trousers was about 10-11 when I started secondary school and I
never wore shorts afterwards.
I'm not sure if I had a suit as such with short trousers ;I have a picture of me about 6 with
what appears to be a short trousered suit but I think it was a jacket with similar colour grey
for the trousers.
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