Children's clothing in the 1930s

Updated February 21, 2017

In the 1930s people wore whatever they could afford. Many boys wore handed-down knicker suits from the 1920s. Mothers made new school dresses from chicken feed sacks. People who could afford new clothing copied the styles worn in the movies. Styles changed slowly during this decade even among the well-to-do.

Infant Clothes

Infants no longer wore the fussy long gowns worn in previous decades. Rubber trousers and terrycloth diapers made shorter dresses more practical. Hand embroidery became easier with the advent of iron-on transfers so infant layettes were decorated with hand embroidery.

Toddler Clothes

Toddler clothing was simple and practical during the '30s. Toddler girls wore short dresses which hung from the shoulders. Sunsuits with gathered waists and legs and shoulder straps were popular. Tiny boys wore short trousers which buttoned onto their shirts or loose one-piece suits. They still wore sailor suits. Boys wore sunsuits with straight legs. Airplanes and trains were popular embroidered motifs for boys. Puppies and kittens were popular designs for both girls and boys.

Clothes For Young Girls

Shirley Temple set the style for young girls for most of the decade. Her very short dresses and ringlets were copied by many girls. Girl's dresses were simple and practical with charming dressmaker details. Many styles hung straight from the shoulder or had a high yoke. Hair ribbons were worn by all girls who could afford them.

Clothes for Young Boys

Young boys wore suits with shorts until they were 5 or 6. Sweaters, suspenders and small caps with a brim were popular accessories for young boys.

Clothes for Older Girls

Older girls wore dresses that were fitted through the waist and had very short skirts. Feed sacks of the time had colourful calico prints; with dressmaker details and inexpensive bias trim a feed sack could become a very attractive girl's dress.

Clothes for Older Boys

School boys wore knicker suits until late in the decade. In the winter they added sweaters and socks that reached to the band of the knickers or went over the knee. Boys began to wear sneakers during this decade.

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About the Author

Camela Bryan's first published article appeared in "Welcome Home" magazine in 1993. She wrote and published SAT preparation worksheets and is also a professional seamstress who has worked for a children's theater as a costume designer and in her own heirloom-sewing business. Bryan has a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from the University of Florida.