Television Programs Illustrating Children's Clothing: The Brady Brunch (US, 1969-74)

Figure 1.--Here are Brady kids except Peter off to school with Alice, the family housekeeper who has prepared their bag lunches. The girls wear dresses with short skirts and knee socks. The boys wear collared shirts and long pants. The boys never wear shorts except when on vaction, although shorts were becoming increasing popular at the time. They also commonly wear T-shirts.

"Here's the story of a lovely lady..." begins a theme song familiar to many parents and their chidren. "The Brady Bunch" is perhaps the most recogziable TV show showcasing American kids during the 1970s was the Brady Bunch. It was about two previously married parents with three kids each. One of the last of those old style, fun around the house shows, with well scrubbed, polite children. The three boys are very . Greg (Barry Willians) was a bit old except that first year, but the younger two were just right: Bobby (Mike Lookinland) and Peter (Christopher Knight). Very little of special interest, because they never wore shorts--even to play in. The girls, however, often wore extremely short skirts and knee socks.


"Here's the story of a lovely lady..." begins a theme song familiar to many parents and their chidren. "The Brady Bunch" began its five-years' TV run on September 26, 1969. An animated format, "The Brady Kids", aired from 1972 to 1974, and in 1977, a variety format, "The Brady Bunch Hour" lasted for about five months. Some 30 years after the first TV episode broadcast, a Brady Bunch film and a sequel were made. And re-runs of the show have been syndicated from the time it went off the air. By any measure this is an American TV success story.


The premise for the show sets it apart from other sit-coms of its time. A widow, Carol, (played by Florence Henderson) with three daughters marries a widower, architect Mike Brady (portrayed by Robert Reed), who has three sons. Two families had now become one, and their adjustments to this new life provided the themes for many episodes. The possibilities were endless. "Four men, living all together" were certainly no longer alone. A new parent/spouse and three new, instant siblings radically changed the household dynamics for everyone. Yet, many episodes dealt with normal, growing up matters. Overcoming shyness, dealing with bullies,and self-consciousness were themes of many of the early episodes. As the Bradys grew up, first cars, dating, jobs, and other new issues surfaced. Mom and Dad almost always showed solidarity in matters of discipline, resolving problems, and decision-making. Carol and Mike Brady were two of the most understanding and reasonable of sit-com parents, rarely losing control of their emotions and solving family crises with exceptional patience and understanding. And if mom and dad weren't readily available, the Brady children could always depend on the family's live-in housekeeper, Alice Nelson (Ann B. Davis) to listen, console, and make them smile.


The oldest Brady daughter, "Marcia", was played by Maureen Mc Cormick (born in Los Angeles on August 5, 1956); the second daughter, "Jan", was portrayed by Eve Plumb (born on April 29, 1958, in Burbank, CA); and the "youngest one in curls", was "Cindy", played by Susan Olsen (born in Santa Monica, CA, on August 14, 1961). As the theme song described them, "all of them had hair of gold, just like their mother."

The Brady boys were all slightly older than their sisters. Barry Williams (born September 30, 1954 in Santa Monica, CA) was "Greg"; middle son, "Peter" was played by Christopher Knight (born November 7, 1957, in New York, NY); and the youngest son, "Bobby", was played by Mike Lookinland (born December 19, 1960, in Mt. Pleasant, Utah). All of the boys had dark hair.

Sadly, Robert Reed is no longer with us. Ann B. Davis joined a religious community. Florence Henderson has made commercials and may be seen in occasional guest spots on TV.

The Brady boys in real life had real problems: Barry Williams has overcome drug addiction; Christopher Knight has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder; and Mike Lookinland has a drinking problem now under control. Barry wrote a book about 10 years ago entitled "Growing Up Brady", a must-read for fans of this show, giving his memories and reflections of this enduring TV classic.


We're not sure who the costume director was and what other programs he or he workedon. We also wonder if the Brady kids themselves had any input into their costuming. We know that Coindy didn't like her curl, but we have no information at this time as to what the Brady kid thought of the costuming.


Watching "The Brady Bunch" in its entirety in reruns, one can see how clothing and fashions changed during an individualistic time in American history. When the show began its run, the Brady boys all wore fairly short hair that wouldn't have been out of place in any 1960s TV show. The short synopsis is a blinding blizzard of polyester.

Brady boys

The Brady Boys wore clothes that were fairly conservative, tending toward jeans or long trousers, white crew socks and athletic shoes. Usually they wore rather conventional short-sleeved shirts. As the show was set in a Los Angeles suburb, clothing for mild weather would be expected. As the years went on, however, the Brady boys remained fashionable. They wore the flared trousers, sometimes in vivid colors or patterns, that were popular in the early 1970s with young people. Their shirts, whether short or long-sleeved, had the long collars typical of the era. Their might as easily wear the suede shoes, or thick-soled, rather large-heeled dress shoes of their time as their familiar tennis shoes. The boys grew their hair fashionably long for the times, also: over their ears, touching or perhaps below their collars, and bangs combed over their foreheads. For dress-up occasions such as parties or dates, the boys chose the wide-lapeled jackets of striking colors; double-breasted jackets had made a comeback in the '70s and the Brady boys seemed to like this style. They seemed to favor sport coats and trousers over suits. One curious cosuming decission was that the boys almost lways wore long pants. This was despite the fact that many Americn boys by the 1970s were weaing short pants for casual wear, often with tube socks. This was especially true in California. A California reader writes, "It is indeed interesting that the boys didn't wear shorts on the TV show, especially given the fact that shorts ere so common in California during th 70. I noted, however, that the boy who played Bobby did wear shorts in the second Brady Bunch movie 'A Very Brady Sequel' (1996)." Clearly the producers and costumers made a conscious decission here, but we do not know why.

Brady girls

The Brady girls in the early episodes wore dresses, or skirts and blouses, but in later episodes were seen in long jeans, sometimes shorts, and mini-skirts. Marcia and Jan often wore knee socks. Girls' shoes, just as the boys, during the early '70's tended toward rather squarish toes, and thick soles and heels. Knee-length boots were also popular, and the Brady girls sometimes wore them. Cindy often wore short socks and tennis shoes.

Specific Episodes

There were a few interesting episodes that touched on clothing. The Brady boys in a few episodes broke with their usual costuming.

Marcia and the Scouts

Once, Marcia, showing certain feminist inclinations, joined Greg's boys' group (they were similar to the Boy Scouts, but a different name was used). In retaliation, Greg and Bobby put Peter up to joining Jan's "Sunshine Girls". Peter appears in the Sunflower Girls uniform. Peter wore the black cap with sunflower emblem and a white blouse over long black trousers. Pete gamely tried to sell a hard-boiled looking man a box of the group's cookies.

Bobby Become a Saftey Monitor

Another episode had Bobby becoming an overbearing school safety monitor.


In a subplot the family was building a small boat, and at the end when the boat is being christened, Greg appears in above the knee shorts, sandals, and a T shirt.


Late in the series Mike took the family on a working vacation to Hawaii. The boys wore T shirts, swimsuits, and sandals in one scene, and Greg has a couple of lengthy scenes when he is shown surfing.


A few rather sensitive episodes dealt with Peter and Bobby's insecurities. Peter was teased by members of his football team because he wanted to join the school choir. When the boys are visited by a sturdy looking pro football player who tells them that he also enjoys singing with a group, the teasing stopped.

Peter's Personality

On another episode Peter was told that he had no personality by a classmate. Pete tries various new "selves", wearing a dress jacket and an ascot in one scene to affect the appearance of a suave English gentleman, and to seem like a tough guy talks like Humphrey Bogart to Carol and Alice, who can barely contain their amusement. Eventually, Peter finds that just being himself and being a good friend to others gives him a fine personality.

Bobby's heighth

One other show had Bobby, the youngest Brady boy, despondent over being the shortest boy in his class. In one scene, Alice's boyfriend, Sam (Allan Melvin), greets Bobby by saying, "Hi, Shrimpo!" Bobby, pouring a glass of water, turned, repeated the name, and ran to his room. A touching scene followed as Bobby, curled up in his bed, takes a hanky from his pocket, rolls over and dabs his eyes. Sam apologized, of course, and Bobby learns by show's end that sometimes there are advantages to being small and disadvantages to being big.


There was one episode where Peter is forced to go to a girl's birthday party. One of the girls there has a crush on Peter and takes him by the arm as soon as he arrives. In some of the early scenes the girls looked very attractive in short party dresses and Mary Janes--it was the minny skirt era.

Cindy's class

About the only boy I ever saw in shorts was a boy in Cindy's class during one of the earlier episodes. The boy was involved in a play with her. At a rehearsal he was wearing grey dress shorts. He was quite young, I'd say 7 or 8.


There is one scene with Fauntleroy suits, one of the girls fantasize about a perfect marriage and child. In her dreams Bobby appears in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit.

Lady doctor

Another scene was when the mother hears Peter screaming upstairs. She had called her doctor to treat him and he was aghast to find a lady doctor was about to examine him. When she went upstairs, Peter had a look of horror on his face and was clutching the covers over him.

Pie fight

We remember that the new kid Oliver wore a sailor suit in the pie fight episode.

Snow white

The only The Brady Bunch episode I saw where all the kids are in short pants is when they are wearing costumes for a backyard production of "Snow White". The shorts had halters to make them look like Lederhosen.


As a reviewer, I think the success of "The Brady Bunch" has to do with its break from the TV norm of a nuclear family sit-com. In the America of its day our perception of home-life and the family were changing due to a higher divorce rate and other social phenomena. The group that "somehow formed a family" was much in tune with its times, at least in this respect. Children from non-traditional homes perhaps found a family, with whom they could identify somewhat. On the other hand, BB in content is derivative from the American sit-com tradition. Though poised on changing cultural times in American history, BB easily fits in with the traditional. Although it borrows from its contemporary culture some popular icons and images, it reflects little of the social changes of its times, beyond its family premise. Other TV comedies were beginning to incorporate some harder-edged themes themes during this era. BB may well be one of TV's last sit-coms from an age of innocence that was rapidly coming to an end.


There have been two movies made based on "The Brady Bunch" TV series, both made for TV-productions. One is "A Very Brady Christmas" (1988) and the other "A Very Brady Sequel (1996).


Williams, Barry. Growing Up Brady.


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Created: March 22, 2003
Last updated: 5:06 PM 1/1/2019