** English boy clothes -- suits trousers knickers








English Boys Suit Trousers: Knickers--Chronology


Figure 1.--Here we see an English boy in a knickers suit, we think in the early 20th century before World War I. The cap suggests it was probably a school uniform or school clothes. All we know about the boy is that he was from Cleveland. He looks to be about 13 years old. Notice he weaes knee socks with hus knickers. American boys at the time wore long stockings.

The English knickers, almost always referred to as knickerbockers, were close or medium-fitting trousers that were cut short. The length varied from just above the kne tcalf length. The length caried over time. They appeared in the mid-19th century. The first to appear were the bloomer knickers for younger boys. Standard knickers for older boys appeared later. We are not sure about the precise chronlogy. Our albeit limited archive suggests that long pants were still the common troudsr type for English boys' suits as late as the 1870s. We begin to see quite quite a few boys wearing knicker suits by the 1880s. We see many boys wearing kncker suits at school in the late-19th century. We are not sure if schools were affectd by popular fashion or helped to set the style. But many bosrding schols adopted knicker suits s a school uniform. We see them in late-19th century photographic record. They seem to have commonly been worn to school. They were also worn for country outings by young men and adults. This would have been a relatively narrow part of the population. The unidentified boy here is wearig a knickers suit, we think in the 1900s (figure 1). By the 1910s shorts were becoming more important in England, in part we think because of the inluence of Lord Baden Powell's Scout movement. English boys by the 1920s more commonly wore shorts although some older English boys wore knickers. Here the age conventions and choices varied from family to family. The photographic record suggests that shorts were much more prevalent. Most English boys when they outgrew short pants wore long pants. Knickers in the 1920s and 30s were not nearly as popular in England as in America or even the continent for boys. We notice fewer knicker suits in the 20th century, especially after World War I. Some teenagers wore them, but they were not commonly worn by boys. A British reader writes, "I certainly never saw them being worn here and believe they died out even earlier - maybe the 1920s - at which point most boys were wearing short trousers." Knickers were more common as smart casual wear by the affluent class.

The 19th Century

The English knickers, almost always referred to as knickerbockers by the British, were close or medium-fitting trousers that were cut short. The length varied from just above the knee to calf length. The length caried over time. They appeared in the mid-19th century. The first to appear were the bloomer knickers for younger boys. Standard knickers for older boys appeared later in the century. We are not sure about the precise chronlogy. Our albeit limited archive suggests that long pants were still the common trouser type for English boys' suits as late as the 1870s. We begin to see quite a few boys wearing knicker suits by the 1880s. We see many boys wearing kncker suits at school in the late-19th century. We believe school rules were involved, but wehave few details at this time. We are not sure if schools were affectd by popular fashion or helped to set the style. School rules may have driven prevalence in the wider society. At the time the public (elite private boarding) schools had an impact on popular fashions. But many bosrding schols adopted knicker suits as a standard school uniform. We see knicker suits in late-19th century photographic record. They seem to have commonly been worn to school, but theywere no universal. We also see preparatort schools for younger boys wearing long pnts uniforms. Knicker suits were also worn for country outings by young men and adults. This would have been a relatively narrow part of the population. As are English archive grows we hope to be able to developed a better understnding of trends associated with knickers and the other types of suit pants. One noticeable trend here is that unlike America we see some English boys wearing knee socks rather thn long stockings with knickers.

The 20th Century

We still quite a few English boys wearing knoicker suits at the tun-od the 20th century. Knee pnts suits were nore common, but knockers suits were still common. The unidentified boy here is wearig a knickers suit, we think in the 1900s (figure 1). By the 1910s shorts were becoming more important in England, in part we think because of the inluence of Lord Baden Powell's Scout movement. English boys by the 1920s more commonly wore shorts although some older English boys wore knickers. Here the age conventions and choices varied from family to family. The photographic record suggests that shorts were much more prevalent. Most English boys when they outgrew short pants wore long pants. Knickers in the 1920s and 30s were not nearly as popular in England as in America or even the continent for boys. We notice fewer knicker suits in the 20th century, especially after World War I. Knickers were more common as smart casual wear by the affluent class. Some teenagers wore them in the 1920s, but they were not commonly worn by boys. A British reader writes, "I certainly never saw them being worn here and believe they died out even earlier - maybe the 1920s - at which point most boys were wearing short trousers." A few boys may have worn knicker suits in the 930s, but they were not common. We no longer see them after World War II in the 1940s.









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Created: 2:03 AM 1/11/2015
Last updated: 9:09 AM 2/4/2016