I had a relatively strict and, probably, slightly old-fashioned
upbringing. So, I suppose that the clothes and lifestyle that I had were
more typical of a classic British upbringing in the late 1960s, rather
than what most boys of my age were going through in the 1970s.
As a younger boy, I did not wear a suit. I would normally have wore my
school uniform either to Church or on other days when, outside school,
formal clothes were to be worn, for example to visit relatives. School
uniform was of absolutely standard British type. I wore short trousers
with my uniform until are I was about 12, although I was put back into
shorts for the summer during which I turned 13.
As I said, my socks were always a long and grey. I frequently wore
sandals with the more informal clothing but with a suit I always wore
black lace up shoes.
I remember going to Harrods, the big department store in central
London. They had and has a range of short trousered
suits. I don;t know why, but I remember that they had them in "short"
and "longer" style--the latter being shorts which reached further down
towards the knees. The short pants suits were in sizes up to 30" waist.
They were all lined. My mother picked the shorter style for me.
When you buy a shortpants suit they do not measure the length of the
trousers like they do for a long pants suit. You more or less had to
take whatevere they had. Which is why Harods had the longer and shorter
short trouers. I can remember frieinds who were proportioned differently
having the suits altered.
The suit I wore was of grey woollen material, lined. The short trousers
were quite short as was the style then, several inches above my knees.
The jacket was also cut short and stopped just above the hem of the
shorts. I wore either a grey
or a white nylon shirt, short sleeved, with a tie, normally a school
design. I wore black lace up shoes, and grey knee length socks with turn
ups and a garter. Between shirt and vest I would normally wear religious
jewellery, normally a crucifix and religious medal.
My jacket was single breated. It ws not unlike a jacket for a long pants suit,
although. I think it was cut a little shorter, reaching only about
6 inches below the waist. The short trousers to my suit had pleats
and back pockets with buttons to
cover them. It also had belt loops but I didn't usually wear a belt. The
front pockets were quite high up and very small, rather like watch
pockets. I remember thinking at the time that this was rather strange.
Like most formal shorts in the 1970s and 80s, my suit shorts were cut
reasonably tight and reasonably short. I don't remember any shorts which
were "baggy" or long like English boys used to .
I first wore a formal short trousered suit at the age of about 11,
after my first communion (this was a little later than the normal then,
for my parents believed in very thorough preparation). I do remember that
some boys of around 11 years old did wear long trousers for their first
communion. I don't remember speaking to my parents about this because it
had been made fairly clear to me that my father particularly considered
short trousers to be both good for a boy in terms of discipline and in
terms of health and to I could therefore expect to wear them at least
until I was 13.
White suits were not very common for First Communiion, at least in
my experience. I think they are motr common now. When I was a boy,
most boys wore either dark short trousered suits or school uniform. The
girls, however, did commonly wear white dresses.
So far as Church was concerned, there was a wide variety of clothing
worn by boys in their early teens. At the age of 14, I was one of
perhaps no more than two or three whose parents insisted on formal
shorts for mass and for confession. The majority of other boys in of
my school or in my neighbourhood wore either grey long trouser suits or
long trousered school uniform. A very few wore more informal clothes such
as slacks and an open neck shirt but that was considered unusual. At the
age of 12 or 13, though, there would be quite a few boys, such as myself,
who were allowed to wear long trousers to school but not to Church. By
the time I was 14 I did speak to my father about the slight embarrassment
of kneeling at the altar alongside friends nearly all of whom wore long
trousers. He understood, but told me that he felt that it was perhaps
good for me to go on for longer than most of my friends.
I do remember talking to other boys about the fact that I and only a
very small number of others wore shorts. I wasn't teased, but the main
feature of the conversation was of the generally much stricter discipline
that I and the others had to endure compared with other boys'. The short
trousers were only one item of the more disciplined and more religious
upbringing that some of us had.
As I said, I continued to wear shorts for mass and confession until I
was about 14 . My 14th birthday was shortly before Christmas. I first
wore long trousers to Church that Christmas. I still had to go to
confession in shorts until the following Easter. So, the last time I
remember having to put my short trouser suit on was to go to confession on
the Saturday before Easter after my 14th birthday. I would have been about
14 years and four months old.
As you can see, my clothing was very closely connected to a strict
religious upbringing. I suspect, from looking at your site, that I may not
be the only one who has had that experience. I would be very pleased to
answer any further questions you may have.
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