Children's Fashion in the 1930s

Updated March 23, 2017

During the 1930s, parents reeling under the economic burden of the Great Depression often handed down their older children's clothing to their youngest. More affluent consumers had greater choices in children's clothing than ever before, as advertisers targeted children as a demographic and department stores devoted entire floors to children's clothing.


Older boys wore overalls or knickerbockers, which are short trousers that fell just below the knee, while parents dressed toddlers in shorts. Boys wore buttoned shirts, often accompanied by hats such as sailor caps or aviator helmets, inspired by aviator Charles Lindbergh's exploits.


Girls wore dresses and donned styles inspired by actress Shirley Temple's look by the mid-1930s. Collars were standard on girls dresses and saque dresses, which had accompanying bloomers, were also popular. Girls often tied a ribbon in their hair to complete the look.


Most Depression-era children went barefoot during warm weather, saving their shoes for winter. Girls wore shoes that rose to the heel and fastened with laces or buckles. Boys shoes sometimes rose to the ankle and were tied with laces.

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About the Author

Since 2006 Jim Orrill has produced reviews and essays on popular culture for publications including Lemurvision and "Sexis." Based in Western North Carolina, Orrill graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina with a bachelor's degree in office systems.