Aren’t you guys out there glad you’re not living in 1930? First off, there was a Great Depression. According to The Boys Buyer, the trade magazine of the boys’ millinery business, 20 million boys were not able to buy new apparel after the stock market crash. But in 1930, the magazine’s editors wishfully predicted, the market would be coming back—as long as buyers sold the heck out of their lines. (Apparently, there were no government bailouts for knickers manufacturers.) Second off, the idea of dressing in munchkin versions of adult go-to-meetin’ clothes ignored the reality that boys are different from older folk. But think about this: young boys were expected to wear short pants until they were well into their teens. Knickers (short for knickerbockers, which are breeches or baggy-kneed trousers) were an alternative to shorts that also bridged the age gap.
The ads in Boys Buyer, a rather ambitious little trade journal, were geared to the clothing buyers who congregated once or twice a year for their profession’s New York convention. One of the big sellers of 1930 was the Polar Patrol Playsuit (of course). And modern boys’ underwear took away a prize too. How many average boys wore these garments is not clear, but they were designed for little men, not kids before becoming men.
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