*** American mail order catalogs with boys clothes -- 1922

American Mail Order Catalogs with Boys Clothings: 1922

children's rompers
Figure 1.--Rompers were very popular for younger children. They often came in two sizes, these were made for children from 2-6 years. Notice that they were made in blue and pink, suggesting that modern color conventions were beginning to become established.

American mail order catalogs offer a very useful time line on changing fashion trends. American mail order catalogs in 1922 featured many new styles that were not available in the 1900s. Rompers were especially available for younger children. Both boys and girls wore them. Most boys wore knickers in the early 20s. Suits commonly had Norfolk styling. There were also short pants, knee pants, and long psants suits. It was knickers, hoiwever, that were the most poular type of boys' trousers. There was also a wide variety of hosiery. Long stockings were still commonly worn. Older boys wore sailor suits and suits. Shirts were offered for boys. Earlier terms like blouses and waists were more common. There were overcoats for Winter wear. Children commonly wore waists, support garments, in addition to underwear. There were a variety of specialized underwear garments for children. We also notice BVD underwear for boys done in adult style.

Infants Clothes

Dress-like sleepers were made for small infants. Older infants might wear shorter skirt-like garments, perhaps only for the girls.

Montgomery Wards, infants clothing

Wards titles this page, "Pretty practical skirts for wee folks". They offered a wide variety of dress-like sleepers for small infants and skirt-like garments for older ones. They do not specify the skirt-like garments for girls, although this was probably becoming increasingly common in the 1920s. Almost all of the infant garments are white or cream. The HBC reader that has provided many catalog images and insights writes, "One of the reasons that I sent this page along with the romper/creeper page was that if you notice, rompers started at size 2, creepers and dresses were the only choices available from MW for infants between the ages of a few months and 2 years of age. I suspect the number of boys wearing dresses was probably quite high in the early 1920s; otherwise, I suspect MW would have made a greater distinction. Note on the rompers they do. I also noted your point about using white because when something needed to be washed often the color would have faded has a lot to do with the fact that all of the dresses are white. Note that the creepers/rompers come in colors so they were geared to older children." HBC believes that the laundry aspect was probably an important element in infanys clothing.

Toddler Clothes

One of the most popular styles for todlers and pre-school children, both boys and girls, were rompers. The rompers were a sharp departure from earlier styles for young children which were often very elaborate an constrictive. Loose-fitting rompers were a much more casual approch tobchildren's clothes. They were mostly made for pre-school children, but as they were made through age 6, some children may have worn rompers after they came home from school.

Montgromery Ward, Rompers and Creepers

Montgromery Ward offered a wide range of rompers for younger chilren. They were made in two types, one for younger babies through 2 years and a style for older children from about 2-6 years. Presumably they were primarily made for pre-school chilren, but at 6 years many children had begun school. They were primarily a play suit made in durable materials. Some were made in fancier styles and materials.


A company producing children's playwear was the Reliance Manufacturing Company. Unfortunately we do not have much information on their product line. We do note a variety of button-on play outfits offered in the Sears play suits in the Fall and Winter catalog. They were mostly kneepants outfits. The outfits were for little boys from 2 to 8 years. These outfits were almost all constructed with matching tops and bottoms with button-on pants are thus referred to as suits--albeit play suits. All the boys on this page are shown wearing their play clothes with long stockings, apparently dark brown or tan stockings.


Boys wore a variety of coats in the fall and winter of 1922-23. Double breasted coats appear to have been very popular, including reefer jackets with sailor styling.

Altmans, overcoats for younger boys

Altmans had a range of heavy coats for boys 3 to 8 years old. The all were double breasted. Some with fur and or belts. One was a sailor-style reefer coat.


Sweaters were very popular in the 1920s. Children commonly wore them to school and to play in during cool weather. We nore a catlog published by the Bradley Knitting Company. The company manufactured a wide range of sweaters and other cold-weather wear.

Juvenile Suits

We see a cariety of special suit styles for youngr pre-school or early-primary school boys. Many were called 'novelty suits' at the time. They were most popular for younger boys beginning at age 3 at the end of the toddler range, but HBC has noted some in sizes up to 9 years. Many of these outfits had social class connotations and were not commonly worn by working-class boys. Sailor suits were still worn by American boys in the 1920s and a big part of this ctrrgory. The sailor outfits were done in a variety of styles beyond the basic middy blouse. We also see Oliver Twist and Fauntleroy styles. A new style is vestee suits. We see some styles that look somewhat like shortalls. One is called a suspenders uit. Some had large white buttons. Junior Eton suits will become a major category here, but in the 1920s is more of a regular suit choice for primary-age boys. We see these suits being worn with Eton, Peter Pan, and modest Fauntletoy collars. They were mostly done with short pants during the 1920s, although knee pants were still fairly common in 1922.

Shirts and Blouses

It was in the 1920s that our modern concept of collared shirts became widely worn. The soft collar began to replace the Eton collar that had dominated older boys' dresswear since the 1890s. Both blouses and shirts were still offered in 1922, but shirts were becoming more popular with boys.

Honor Bright shirts and blouses

A company producing children's blouses and shirts as well as other children's wear was the Reliance Manufacturing Company. They made Honor Bright shirts and blouses. An ad for boy's blouses--from The Youth's Companion (June 15, 1922). This ad appeared just as school was letting out in mid-June and appeals to boys and mothers who want to put their boys in blouses that will stand up under the strain of the activity of summer play. Notice that the boy in the illustration is running with his school books after being released from school. He wears a tie with his blouse, a striped blouse, above-the-knee knickers, and long black stockings.

Montgomery Ward shirts

Wards styled this page, "??? wearing shirts for boys". It is significant because earlier boys shirts might more commonly be terme as "blouses" or "shirt waists". It is in the early 1920s after World War II (1914-18) that moern-looking boys' shirts begin to appear. The Eton collar was still common in the early 1920s, especially for casual wear. Theses shirts do not appear made for dress weasr. There are no shirts, but many varied colors. There are bothbcollared shirts and neckband style. Materiaicue percail, madras, chambray, flannel and others.


We do not yet have much information on boys' suits in 1922. We note that Norfolk styling was still popular. We also see both single- and double-breasted jackets. We note boys wearing short, knicker, and long pants. We also see kneepants suits, but kneepants were rapidly goung out of style. Knicker suits were by far the most common and were worn at lengths both above and below the knee. All of the major catalogs offer mostly knicker suits for boys. We see some short pants suits offered by the high-end retailers, presumably inflfuenced by British styles. The mass-market catalogs, however, mostly offer knicker suits. Knicker suits. Older boys might wear long pants suits, but theough the mid-teens, boys mostly wore knicker suits. The knoicker suits were primarily worn with long stockings, and the catalog illustrayions show this. We nostly see black stockings in the early 20s. We see some boys wearing knee socks, but long stockings were much more common.


American boys mostly wore knickers in 1922. The great bulk of the photographic images we have found show boys wearing knickers. They also dominate the catalog offerings. Some mostly younger boys wore kneepants, but short pants were begining to be more common for this age group. The vast majority of school age boys wore knickers. They were worn by boys of all school age, including older teen agers.

Figure 2.--Long over the knee stockings still dominated childrens hosiery in 1922. This illustration comes from the Montgomery Ward catalog.


American boys and girls still commonly wore long stockings in 1922, espsecially during the fall and winter. This is a continuation of a trend prevalent fir decades. Even in the siummer, long stockings were still quite common. Kneesocks had begun to appear more commonly in catalogs, but long stockings were still the most common for winter wear. Wesee this in the photographic record as well as the prevalence in catalogs. Three-quarter socks were more common during the summer--unless a boy went barefoot, still common in small towns and rural areas. Age was also a factor. School age boys, especually fter the first two years, very commonly wore long stockings yjroughout the decade. Hosiery for girls seems somewhat more varied. We note a page from the Altman 1922-23 winter catalog offering a variety of hosiery, all dark colors. We note knee sock referred to as 'golf' socks, altough the ones here ere not depicted with loud patterns.

Stocking Supporters

Stocking supporters continued to be an important item in a child's wardrobe during the 1920s and we see quite a few brnds and types. As American children so commonly wore long stockings, devices like garters to hold up the stockings were necessary. We see many ads for these devices in 1922. In addition to specifically designed stocking supporters, some underwear such as waist suits came with features to hold up stockings or attach garters. Waist union suits were a kind of combination stocking supporter/underwear item ith buttons strategically placed. An example here is the Nazareth Waist Union Suit. They were made for both boys and girls 2-15 years of age. We also notice the Warner's Perfection Unionettes. Unionettes seems to have been the company's own name for a waist union suit. They were made for boys up to age 14 years. Lengths tended to be long as boys mostly wore knickers and even short pants for younger boys were often longish.

Other Clothes

The 1920s clothing catalogs included a varietybof garments and accessories besides the major categories. Many are important to note as in some cases as fashions changed or developed, they would disappear or become important styles in future generations. This is one of the valuable elements of these catalogs, allowing us to track changing fashions with sources of known dates.

Montgomery Ward, work clothes

Wards devoted an entire page to overalls which were seen as the page suggests work clothes. They appear to be virtually all bib-front garments. They were often worn with ciffs turned up. The were not seen as casual clothes. They were not to be worn to school, except by less affluent boys in rural areas, and they were only worn by boys. Along with the bib-front overalls were several matching jackets. These overalls were mae in many different materials, not just denim. Both blue and black denim were available. There were overalls in also khaki cloth. There is also safari drill--I'm not sure what this was. One popular style was stripped drill--often referre to as railroad overalls, but not by Wards. There is one reference to "brownie style," but I'm not sure what that meant. These overall work clothes were made for boys as young as 3 years.


Underwear was still rather complicated in the 1920s, especially for tounger children. Children commonly wore waists, support garments, in addition to underwear. There were a variety of specialized underwear garments for children. In addition to the more compicated garments, we also see simpler styles for oldr boys like singlets and boxers. The boxers were sone a long lengths because knickers were so common. We know quite a bit about period underwear because it was so heavily advertized. Underwear was widely advertized in catalogs. We also notice extensive advertising in magazines. There were several important compaies. One was EZ Mills. They had an extensive product line. BVD underwear for boys done in adult style.


We still notice a lot of hightop shoes in 1922. The ones we see are mostly laceup shoes, sturdy styles. We see very few button shoes which were srill worn in the 1919s, esoecially the early-1910s. We note high-rop shoes being offered in the Altman Winter 1922-23 catalog on the page along with hosiery. We begin to see low-cut shoes increasing in the decade and by the end of the decade we see a lot of low-cut shoes, but in the early-20s, high-tops were still very common, not only in leather shoes but also sneakers. We see this trend most commonky with girls, but a lot of girls also wore high-top shoes.


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Created: May 29, 2001
Last updated: 1:08 AM 4/19/2020