* French mail order catalogs and clothing advertisments with boys clothes--1939

French Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: 1939

Figure 1.--The Au Louvre was a popular Paris department store. This ad was in a 1939 newspaper, just a year before the Germans occupied France in 1940. Some of the casual styles for older children look very modern. Note the smock is shown being sworn by a girl. Also notice the romper suit and dressy shorts and blouse for younger boys. The ad copy reads, "Au Louvre Paris profitez de nos soldes vous ne trouverez nulle part d'aussi merveilleuses occasions." That means, "At the the Louvre in Paris you will benefit from our end of season sales. You will not find such marvellous opportunities anywhere else."

French mail order catalogs and clothing advertisements offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. HBC notes that department stores were offering some rather modern looking styles for older boys, including casual garments. Rather dressy styles and rompers for younger boys were popular. Smocks were available for both boys and girls, but girls' smocks were more prominetly featured. World War II broke out in September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. An alanysis of 1939 fashions provide a glimpse of styles right before the War tore apart Europe and the German occupation in 1940.


Rompers in 1939 still appear to have been made for very young children. They were exclusively for boys. They were primarily a play garment to be worn around the hiome are for outings to the beach, but there were dressier versins as well. One home sewing compamy offers roimpers for a somnewhat older boy.

Au Bon Marche rompers

The well known Parisian department store, Au Bon Marche offered a selection of romper suits for younger boys. They offered several styles of rompers, both dressier one-piece styles and bib-front romper play suits that could be worn at home during the summer or for trips to the beach.

Au Lourve rompers

The Au Louvre department store in Paris offered percale boys' rompers in sizes 47-52 cm. These were exclusively for boys, little girls wore dresses.

Unknown pattern compamy

Here we have the cover from waht we take take to be be a pattern envelope. We are not sure about the name of the company. Nor are we sure about what the pattern was for, the dress or romper suit -- perhaps both. The caption reads,"Voir a l'interieur Les explicationes et les dosde ces modéles, Pendant 8 jours. Le patron de la barboteuse peur étre envoye en PATRON-PRIME contre deux timbres a 1 franc plus le bon remboursable." That means something like,"See inside the explanations and the backs of these models, During 8 days. The pattern of the romper can be sent as PATRON-BONUS against two stamps at 1 franc plus the refundable voucher." We do not fully understand that. But the illustration clearly shows a boy wearing a romper suit with puffed sleeves and Perter Pan collar, and the illustration suggests a school age boy.


Both boys anf girls commonly wore school smocks in 1939. Advertisments give more attention to girl's smocks. This was probably due to the fact that more girls wore them, especially older girls. In addition, there were more different styles of girls smocks. Most boys prefered plain smocks in traditional styling.




We do not yet have any specific dvertisemebnts for suits from French magazines and catalogs in 1939. We do have an ad from a Parisian store, La Grande Maison, offering clothing for boys and young men. The ad has an illustration showing the age progression in boys' suits at the time. The younger boy wears a short pants sailor suit, a teenager wears a knickers suits, and a young man wears a sports jacket with long pants.


Blouses were available for dressy outfits for younger boys. They were worn with both rompers and short pants

Au Lourve blouse and short sets

The Au Louvre department store in Paris offered dressy blouse and shorts outfits for little boys in sizes from 2-6 years.


Some modern-looking casual shirts for plder boys and girls were available in 1939.


The Au Louvre offered blue and white short pants in sizes from 6-16 years.



A French reader tells us about some underwear for younger children. He forwarded us a Gallerias Lafayette advertisement for bonneterie. I think that means underwear. He tells us, The Gallerias Lafayette 1939 underwear advertisement here has styles that were commonly worn in both urban and rural areas. Older styles tended to persist in urban areas after they had disappeared among city children. The garment in second position was rather for country boys. The garment at the top and third place below were worn by the majority of city boys. The two extremes are girl garments."


The big Fremch department stores also sold toys. The catalog pages for toys a;so included illustrations of children depicting contemprary clothing. We note a Samaritaine adverisement dates July 1939. I'm not sure if it is a advertisement or a catalog cover. It show how popular American Indians at the time were in France and for that matter other European countries. I think this was in part a function of Hollywood movies. Indians were often referred to as Red Indians in Europe and now of course we prefer Native Americans.


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Created: August 27, 2001
Last updated: 11:52 PM 7/25/2007