Styles for Boys in the 50s


Boys in the 1950s did not dress in the relaxed styles common today. The 1950s served as a transition period from earlier, more formal times to the less conventional styles of the 1960s. Boys from wealthier families dressed more formally than those from less well-to-do parents, but almost all boys had "Sunday meeting" clothes.

Slacks and Shoes

  • For the most part, boys in the 1950s wore slacks, not jeans, on a regular basis to school, church and to any function outside of play, work or a sports activity. Slacks were pressed with a relaxed, not overly fitted, contour. With the slacks, boys in the 1950s usually wore dress shoes, either buckle or lace-up, and socks, often striped. Saddle shoes became a staple for boys and girls. In New Hampshire, a pair of boys' shoes sold for about $5, while in Wisconsin shoes were purchased for a couple of dollars less. Dress-up often meant not only slacks and shoes, but also suit jackets, much like those worn by fathers.

    A certain amount of formality and looking "sharp" in dress was prized by parents, especially after World War II. This outlook did not change until 1957, when standards began to soften into a more informal style of clothing.

Shirts, Sweaters and Ties

  • During the early part of the 1950s, clothing reflected the styles of adults. This included wearing button-down, collared shirts and sweaters or sweater vests for boys, teens and men. With the influence of designers such as Saint Laurent and with teenagers starting to purchase their own clothes, markets began to cater to a younger clientèle. This affected styles not only for teens, but younger boys as well. By the end of the 1950s, neckties were relegated from normal school wear to special function wear.

Dress Up and Play

  • For boys in the 1950s, there was a clear demarcation between clothes normally worn -- slacks and shirts -- and clothes worn for play and work. In the early 1950s, boys did not hang out in jeans, and jeans were not the fitted styles of today. When jeans were worn -- for home or work activity -- they were rather rugged, not tightly fitted, and were worn with cuffs. Toward the end of the 1950s, schools began relaxing their strict dress codes and more schools began allowing boys to wear jeans to school.

Winter and Summer

  • In cold weather, boys in the 1950s wore bulky winter coats, snow boots, stockings or fur-lined hats, and knitted mittens instead of gloves. Long scarves wound around the neck finished off the winter ensemble for boys in the 1950s.

    In the summer, short pants might be substituted for long pants for church and other functions. Shorts and sandals were also worn for play.

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