*** button-on clothing -- country trends

Button-on Clothing: Country Trends

button-on suits
Figure 1.--This German boy was photographed in a button-on suit during 1915. Notice the very large buttons. We do not know the name of the family. Also notice the ringlet curls his older sister wears. A HBC reader wonders what color the boy's suit was. HBC is uncertain.

Button-on styling was popular for boys clothing. Boys had a spdcil problem. Unlike girls who wore dressess, boys after breeching wore separate tops and bottoms. And keeping up trousers was a real proiblem for boys before the teen years as they hd no defined waits. This was a problem thar boys in all countries faced. There were various ways of addressing trousr suspension and button-on grments was one way. We have limited informtion on mny countries. We note it being very commonly employed in American children's clothing, especially boys' clothing. Much of the information we have collected about button-on styling comes from Americam source, especially our large American Photographic archive. This might give the impression tht it was more common in America than Europe. This is a conclusion that we are to yet willing to draw. Our American archive is much larger than our European archives and thus can be misleading as to prevalence. We have also noted button-on clothing in many European countries as well. Button-on styling was popular in England and Germany and we believe several other countries as well, such as Italy. We do not yet, however, adequate information to assess country trends at this time. Styling conventions and chronolgical trends varied somewhat in the different countries.


American boys have worn a wide range of button-on outfits. Skeleton suits were button-on outfits. They were worn by well-off city boys, but America in the early 19th century was still largely rural so I doubt if very many boys wore them. We see large numbers of boys wearing button-pn outfits in the mid-19th century. A good example is an unidentified boy in the 1850s. Button-on styling was very popular in the United States during the early 20th century. It was especially popular during the inter-War era in the 1920s-40s. We note large numbers of American boys wearing button-on outfits. We see both play and schoolwear outfits. Often this involved short sets, shorts and shorts sold together, There were also long pants sets. It was common to sell the garments as sets as the buttons and buttons holes had to be coordinated. A good example of a playsuit was a sailor outfit worn by Jackie Hardy about 1940. Much of the information in the main button-on page reflects American button-on fashion trends, thus we have noy yet created a separate U.S. section here at this time.



We believe that Belgian button-styles and trends were very similar to French trends.


We have boted English children wearing button-on clothes. We have little information about English trends at thuis time. The style appears to have been especially popular in the early 20th century. An English reader writes, "I am only aware of buttoning on pants being used with boys just out of babyhood. I have one photo of me like that in the very early 1930s and nothing after that in my experience."


We have noted French boys wearing fancy blouses with button-on shorts as a dressy style. In the early 1950s these blouses were worn by boys up to 7 years of age. We have less information on the extent to which French boys wore button-on play clothes.


German boys extensively wore button-on clothes. The photograph here shows a German boy about 1915 wearing a button-on suit and fancy blouse. Perhaps more common in Germany were suspender pants--both shorts and longs. his appears to have been rimarily an early-20th century style. We do not have any images from the 19th century, other than the skeleton suits worn in the early 19th century. We note numerous images of German boys wearing button-on clothing in the early 20th century, through the 1920s. This German boy was photographed in a button-on suit during 1915 (figure 1). Notice the very large buttons. We note many one-piece suits before World war I, but after the War separate pants and shorts were much more common. We are not yet sure about the 1930s and 40s.


No information available yet.

(The) Netherlands

No information available yet.



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Created: March 3, 2002
Last updated: 12:14 AM 6/27/2016