** American advertisements Best summer wash suits for younger children

Best Younger Children Summer Wash Suits, 1918

Figure 1.--Best & Co offered a wide range of wash suits for younger boys up to 4 years pf age. We have seen many of these styles made for boys up to age 8 years, but these best suits were mostly for pre-school boys 2-4 years of age.

A variety of todler styles with simple casual styles appear. They were often done with kneepants. The button-on style appears to have been very popular for boys. Knickers were more common for older boys. These toddler suits were done in a wide range of styles. A good example is the wash suits offered in the Best 1918 Summer catalog for toddler boys.

Best Company

The Best & Company appaers to have been an important New York City department store that went national. They were seen as an upscale firn. They eventually had branches in many states. They built a large store at 645 5th Avenue at East 51st Street, NE Corner (Wing on 52nd Street). It was located in Midtown Manhattan. The building was replaced by the Olympic Tower of Aristotle Onassis. I am not sure when the comapny was founded, but note that they were active in the 1950s and 60s. They varried an extensive line of fashionanle clothes. We know that Best & Company was a major U.S. depattment store chain, bit have little information on the company at this time.

Wash Suits

Was suits mean that the suits could be laundered and thus were serviceable. Wash suits were often an indication that the outfits were play suits for everday wear.


The dresses here are mostly for children 2-4 years of age. Some are done in sizes up to age 6 yeatrs, but most are in the 2-4 years age range. The styles done for slightly older boys were the two sailor suit outfits at the lower left (W-214 and 215) of the page which were done in sizes up to 5-6 years of age (figure 1).


The Best wash suits were done in a wide range of styles. Sailor styling was clearly very popular. There are several different suits done with sailor styling. These include middy blouses which were not button-on outfits, although some are done in the button-on style. There are also several suits done with button-on styling. Here there was a variety of styles. Detailong included both buttons and belts. Collars were both rounded and pointed. We also notice open square neck openings. Some were detailed with ruffles. String tie tassels were also popular. Some of the outfits were done with smocking work. There was one outfit done as a smock, but described as a French peasant style. We have the ad copy from the page, although the style of the outfits is usually not named. One interesting aspect of this page is that some of the outfits look somewhat like more modern shortalls


The suits here are done in a range of color. Blue was a particularly popular color. We wondered when looking at the dresses if the blue/pink oprionprovided for summer-lqaen frsses might have been an indication that some of the Best Summer lawn dresses were appropriate for boys and girls. It may be that color conventions were not yet as firmly set as they are today. We note that two of the garments here were done in pink. One garment was available in pin pin stipes (item 208) and the other with pink trim (item 212). While it is interesting that pink was used a all, it should be noted that blye was a much more popular color in the boys' suits here. Also we note it is being used in pin stripes and trim rather tjan as a solid color.

Frills and Fancy Detailing

The suits here include some classic boys' styles, especially the sailor suits. There was fancy detailing used in the suits here, included ruffled trim on the collar and smocking.


Weare not sure about the usage of these suits. They are was suits, but look a little fancy to have just been worn as play suits. Perhaps that this was just the way boys from wealthy families were dressed. We are not sure, however, that they would have been seen as suitable dress outfits for occassions like going to church.

Social Class

We are no sure about the social class conventions here. Notice the prices. They seem quite high for 1918. Many Americans would moy have been able to afford them. We doubt if really wealthy peope would have shopped at Best, but the prices here suggest they the dresses were for family in comfortable circumstances. Some of the styles seem like outfits that might have been more likely worn by affluent families, especially the smock outfits.


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Created: 8:24 PM 2/7/2006
Last updated: 8:24 PM 2/7/2006