United States Boys' Clothes Chronology: The 1910s--Styles


Figure 1.--Here we see a family snapshot. It looks to have been taken during World War I, perhaps about1915 or a little later. The children look to be about 5-9 years old which neans they are probably not all from the same family, unless the girls are twins. Thee boys wear a sailor suit and military styled tunic suit, both with knee pants. Knickers had become standard in the 1910s, but some younger boys still wore knee pants. The girls wear plain waistless dresses, althouh one has a a lace collar. Notice the great hair bows.

The early 1910s marked a major shift in boys' clothing styles. The flat cap became the standard headwear for boys. Boys no longer wore dresses. Kilt suits had disappeared. The only skirted f\garment we see to any extent are tunics which had become an important style in the 1900s. The old formal styles had declined in importance during the 1900s. Major styles like Fauntleroy suits had largely disappeared. Suits were still common. Norfolk styling was popular. While suits were still commonm, the new more casual styles became increasingly important as the 1910s progressed. Kniclers became standard for boys. Short pants were not as common as in Europe. Even the Boy Scouts in America did not wear shorts as was the case in Europe, except at camp. Neither knickers or shorts had the casul connotation that shorts have today. It was morea matter of age apporopriate clothing.

Headwear

Hats declined in popularity for boys in the 1910s. We see far fewer boys wearing hats. We note wide-brimmed sailor hats with the brim turned down. This is a signature style of the 1910s. Younger boys still wearing hats often wore them with the brim or part of it bent up or dowm. Some hats like boaters had stiff brims tht could not be folded down. Other hats had more flexible brims that could be worn in many different ways. This was largely a style for children from well-to-do families. Most boys wore caps. The flat cap continued to grow in popularity during the 1910s. Caps in the 1900s were more diverse. We still see other caps in the 1910s, but the flat cap was decidely the most popular style. The flat cap is today seen as a rather casual style, but for boys in the 1910s it was worn both as a casual style as well as a more formal style with a suit. Many boys wore flat caps to school. We see other cap styles mostly in the winter. Boys in northern states might wears woodsmen caps. The flat cap could be worn during the winter and many flat caps had flaps that could be pulled down over the ears. The British-style peaked cap which was quite common in the 1900s declined in popularity. It also took on a more upper-class association and became more of a formal style worn with suits. The American Boy Scouts adopted the broad-brimmed hat used by the Brirish Scouts and most other Scouts around the world. There were no Scout caps in the 1910s.

Tunic Suits

Tunics were very widely worn by American boys in both the 1900s and 1910s. A good example is American boy Hewett Lindsley in 1910. Tunics continued to be a very popular garment for younger boys throughout the 1910s. We notice large numbers of offerings in the major catalogs during the 1910s. There are also many examples from the photographic record. As far as we can tell the tunic styles were very similar in both the 1900s and 1910s. We see tunics being done in different styles. Sailor tunics were especially popular. A good example is Theodore Roosevelt Johnson in 1912. We also see Martin Murphy in 1912. He is wearing a white sailor tunic. And we see 3-year old Paul Burham Dailey in 1914 wearing a sailor tunic suit. There were other styles as well. Tunics suits were mostly worn with bloomer knickers. We also note a wide range of colors and detailing. The summer colors thst were most popular seem to have been white, blues and browns and to a lesser extent red. Detailing seems to have been somewhat less elaborate than in the 1900s. The heavier wunter tunics seem less common than in the 1900s. The tunics during the 1910s may have been cut somewhat shorter than during the 1900s. We have not been able to find enough dated photographs to be able to understand stylistic changes over time. We notice the Hubbard boys in 1917.

Fauntleroy Suits

Little Lord Fauntleroy suits were decling in popularity, but still worn. Most Fauntleroy in the 1910s suits still had knee pants, but some were now made with short pants. They were increasingly worn with white stockings or white three-quarter socks. The size of the jackets increased to cover the blouse entirely. In addition large lace collars began to be replaced with ruffled collars and smaller bows. Many Fauntleroy suits were now worn with no bow at all. Some ruffled collars were wore with open necks, emphasizing the new more casual styles even in formal clothes. Note how all late 19th Century Fauntleroy suits were worn by tightly button collars with large bows.

Sailor Suits

We note boys wearing sailor suits throyghout the 1910s. Sailor suits continued to be worn in the 1910s, but had begun declining in popularity. World War I broke out during the 1910s. The War began in 1914, but America did not enter the War until 1917. American entry was largely based on a maritime issue--freedom of the seas. The Germans decided to reintroduce unresstricted submarine warfare. I'm not yet sure how this affected the popularity of sailor suits. Sailor suits were popular in the 1910s, but we do not think there were as popular as in the 1900s. We see many different styles of sailor outfits, including tunic suits, blouses, reefer jackets, and button-on outfits. Sailor blouses were very popular in the 1900s. We see more button-on outfits in the 1910s. The style by the 1910s, however, was beginining to become a fashion for little boys. The knee pants that predominated before the war had began to be replaced with knickers and to a lesser extent short pants. By the 1910s we only see younger primary-age school boys wearing sailor suits.

Knickers

Knickers were standard wear fo boys in the 1910s, an iconic style. They appeared in the late-1900s, replacing knee pants, and by the 1910s were nearly universal. have no idea what cause such a rapid transformation. We see them worn with both suits and pants or casual occassions. They were both a dressy and play style. Tey were worn by both primary school boys and younger teenagers. Here we do not see as old as the boys who wore knee pants in the 1900s, but younger teenagers commonly wore knickers throughout the decade. The knickers boys wore like knee pants mostly wore at knee length as can be see on the previous page. Knickers were the dominant type of pants for American boys during the 1910s, but not all boys wore knickers. Younger boys mostly pre-school, but some also some boys in the first primary (elementary ) school grades might wear other garments. Many younger boys wore knee pants outfits.










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Created: 2:55 AM 4/4/2019
Last updated: 2:55 AM 4/4/2019