Button-on Clothing: Purpose

Figure 1.--This boy was probably photographed about 1920. He wears button kneepants, probably in velvet with a ruffled collar blouse. Note that the waistine of the kneepants is shaped around the buttons. Note his block set. The portrait was taken in New York City.


Button-on clothing was in part decorative. The large buttons were often in contarasting colors and used as part of the deoration for younger children. For older children they were generally made less obvious. The principal reason for the button-on device, however, was simple--to hold the child's pants on. Young children have no defined waists and thus belts are less effective than on adults. Suspender shorts amd longs are an alternative, but the suspender straps sometimes are bothersome and can fall down. The button-on clothing has the advantage that there are no bothersome suspender straps and once buttoned, the child's panrs are securely on. There are also no offtending shirt tails that can come out of the pants.


The child is wearing a banged hair cut. A white button on blouse with a large ruffled collar with a ruffled [?placket]. The long sleeves have ruffled button cuffs well above the wrist. I'm not sure if this is the style or if the blouse is a bit small for him. He is wearing knee colored kneepants, but I am not sure about the color. The kneepants have waisr buttons from the blouse. Notice how the waist rises where the buttons are. The keepants also have white ornamental leg buttons. He also has whote kneesocks and white high top shoes.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: July 20, 2002
Last updated: July 27, 2002