* American mail order catalogs with boys clothes -- 1915

American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: 1915

Figure 1.--Stuart's offered this romper suit for little boys from 2-4 years of age.

American mail order catalogs offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. American mail order catalogs in 1915 featured increasingly simple casual styles for younger children. We note rompers and tunic suits. Fauntleroy suits had given way to Olivr Twist suits. They styles were also increasingly gender specific. We also note boys wearing sailor suits. Most boys wore knickers with long stockings. Suits were still commonly worn, but we see a lot of phoographs of boys wearing blouses and shirt waists with knickers. Knee pants had largely disappeared exept for outfits for younger boys. Long stockings were still very common necesitating stocking supporters. High-top shoes were still common. Younger boys migh wear sandals.


Flat caps werethe most popular boys' headwear on 1915. We also see sunt hats and boaters. These are displayed in a Sears sample book. Some of the flast caps matched the suits, others were more sporty.

Toddler Clothes

A variety of stylish toddler styles with simple casual styles were available in 1915. The fancy, fussy styles for little boys are clearly a thing of the past. we notice quire a range of styles. The button-on style. often called Oliver Twist suits, appears to have been very popular for boys. And we see a variety of tunic suits as well as romper suits. The general age range was from about 2-5 years. We notice one company offering outfits from 6 months to 8 years, although the styling was apparently different. The play suits were done as wash suits, but most of the outfits were for pre-school children. And we do not see them very commonly at school, especially beyond 1st grade (6-7 year old).

Sailor Suits



We do not yet have much informatipon on suits advertized dyruing 1915. What we have been able to find shows both single- and double-breasted jackets were popular. Some jackets with Norfolk styling wwerealso available. Available information also suggests that just about all avialble boys' suits were knickers suits. Some suits were offered with two pairs of pants, mostlt another psir of knickers. There were also long pants suits, mostly for teenagers. Most boys began wearing long pants sometimes after their early teens. The actual age varied from family to family. That age declined somewhat during the decade. We do not yet know the age range for boys in 1915, but will be able to find this as we ad more catalog pages and periodical advertisements.




American children both boys and girls for several decades had been wearing long stockings. Younger children might wear socks, but long stockings were the primary hosiery for school age children. Black long stockings were especially common. This was beginning to change in the 1910s. Ascfar as we can tell, long stockings were still the dominant hosiery, but we begin to see knee socks and other socks worn to a greater extent than earlier, especially during the Summer. This trend would become much more prounounced in the 1920s.

Stuarts hosiery

Stuarts in 1915 offered a wide range of socks and stockings for boys and girls, but only one style of stocking supporters. Some hosiery was made specifically for boys or girls. Other socks were made for infants and children that did not specify gender. Stockings were made for boys and girls. Socks were mostly made for younger chidren up to about 8 years of age.

Black Cat stockings

Here we note an ad for Black Cat Stockings from Ladies' Home Journal (September, 1915), p. 32. The image of the boy getting undressed for swimming and unfastening his supporters to remove his black stockings is useful for its details of gettng dressed and undressed. We wonder about the marketing strategy. It also reveals something about stocking length in 1915. The ad appeared in September when mothers would be buying new school clothes for boys. Notice the interesting data on stocking color in the text transcribed below.

Stocking Supporters

We begin to see patents for stocking supporters in the 1860s. Some may have been even issued even earlier. We note quite a number issued in the late 19th century. We note a patent for an underwaist-shoulder brace in 1915. The applicant was Lena R. Perry. Womwn inventors were active in the garment trade. She calls it a "combined suspender waist and shoulder brace". She explains, "This invention is a novel combined suspender waist and shoulder brace, particularly designed for children; and the object of the invention is to provide a suspender waist and brace to which the lower undergarments of the child can be attached and suspended thereby from the shoulders of the child, and which will assist the child in standing errect without interfering with the free movements of te body; and which will be comfortable for the wearer."


Dressing in the early 20th century was more complicated than is the case today. Nothing shows this more than the underwear that was worn. Quite a range of underwear styles were available for children in 1915. There were shirts, drawers, and combination or "union" suits with the shirts and pants combined. There were also waist suits designed to hold up long stockings and other articles of clothing.


High-top shoes were still common in the 1910s. We see low-cut oxfords, but they were not as commomn. We see quire a number of children wearing sandals. They dirst appeared in the 1900s, but became more common in the 1910s. Swears offered them for adults and children. We mostly see younger boiys wearing them in the photographic record. They were rarely worn to school by boys. It is sometimes difficult to detinguish between a shoe and a sandal. A reader writes, "I note from the early 1900 catlogs that anything with a single, double, or multiple strap was called a sandal at the time. Button or lace versions were called shoes or boots." We also see canvas tennis shoes.


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Created: May 2, 2001
Last updated: 7:05 PM 5/6/2011