Boy Fashions in the 1930s

The average boy in the 1930s had relatively few sets of clothing.
The average boy in the 1930s had relatively few sets of clothing. (Image: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

The Great Depression coincided with the 1930s, and greatly affected fashion trends of all sorts. The fashions of men and boys alike mimicked the English drape style, and exhibited simple lines and an attention to comfort. The transition to wearing long pants rather than knickers, however, was not fully complete until the end of the decade.


Most American boys wore knickers for pants. Knickers were knee or shin-length and gathered at the hem. In summer, many boys wore shortened knickersv-- which eventually became known simply as 'shorts'. Cord was the most common material for everyday knicker construction and the 1930s saw the replacement of buckled hems with elasticized hems.


Like their fathers, boys either wore suits in a single or double-breasted cut. Rather than long pants, boys wore knicker suits, with kneesocks tucked under the ends of their knickers. Oxford-style shoes matched with their suits. By the end of the decade, older boys were often wearing long pants with their suits that mimicked the cut of men's clothing.

Clothing Lines

In the 1930s, fewer households were sewing their own clothing, and the development of ready-to-wear clothing to purchase boomed. Many of Disney's child actors even had their own clothing lines to mimic the outfits worn in popular movies of the time. These clothes were available in department stores and, more commonly, through catalogs.


During summer, it was common for boys to wear sandals. But, the 1930s also saw the rise in popularity of tennis shoes, which had first appeared in fashion a decade earlier. In the beginning of the 1930s, most American boys followed the European fashion of wearing kneesocks or stockings in solid colors; but by the end of the 1930s, boys had begun wearing ankle socks.

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