What Did Children Wear to School in the 1930s?

Updated July 20, 2017

Today's school fashions are very different from the fashions sported in the 1930s. Fashions created for children in the 1930s were designed to accentuate the natural essence of a child, whether it was for school, home, special occasions or play. In other words, children dressed like children.


In the 1930s, the Great Depression caused countless hardships throughout America. People, especially children, sought comfort through Hollywood movies. According to "The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through American History 1900 to the Present," movies and child stars profoundly influenced children. In fact, some child stars, such as Shirley Temple, endorsed their own clothing lines.

As children, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret Rose of England inspired girls' fashions worldwide as well.

Schoolgirl Fashions

Schoolgirls wore simple, full-skirted, puffed-sleeved, cotton dresses with collars and cuffs known as saque dresses. Girls wore short-sleeved dresses during the summer and long-sleeved dresses during the winter. They also wore jumper dresses. Girls wore ankle-high socks or knee-length stockings secured with garters called elastics. They often wore below-ankle shoes with laces or buckles. In disadvantaged families, girls wore shoes only when the weather was cold.

Schoolboy Fashions

Schoolboys commonly wore corduroy trousers (long and short) and striped knit shirts. Boys also wore button shirts and overalls or blue jeans with suspenders. Sometimes during the summer, boys did not wear a shirt with the overalls. However, during most summers, boys wore long-sleeved button shirts and rolled up the sleeves. Boys wore socks with lace-up shoes that covered the ankles, as well as lace-up shoes that did not cover the ankles. Boys from disadvantaged homes wore shoes only when the weather was cold.

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About the Author

A native of Chesapeake, Va., Jenny McClease began writing in 2010, when she interviewed a local rapper for "Entertainment Magazine.” She graduated from the Institute of Children's Literature, receiving a diploma in writing for magazines.