Children's Clothing From the 1920s

Updated February 21, 2017

The 1920s were an era of luxury fashion for both children and adults until the stock market crash in 1929. Clothing for children in this decade mimicked the less constrictive and more liberating designs that grownups enjoyed. Garments, for boys and girls, emphasised the more active lifestyle pursued in this era by both adults and children.


The formal wear for both boys and girls was for occasion such as christening gowns with Irish lace or fancy embroidery. White gowns of dimity and muslin were popular in the late 1920s but these became less affordable after the stock market crash in 1929. Informal clothes for babies of this era were dresses for both boys and girls that were practical garments of cotton, wool or silk depending on the weather. Crawling babies wore rompers to allow of movement. Shirts with jerseys and leggings were popular for infant boys.


Toddler-aged girls wore tunic dresses with matching bloomers made from soft materials like crepe and georgette for formal wear. Designers used embroidery, smocked rosettes and ribbons on the dresses. Decorations on clothes were sparser in the late 1920s when families could no longer afford expensive clothes. Girls wore rompers and dresses with bloomers for informal wear. They wore these garments in weather- appropriate fabrics like linen, cotton, silk or wool. Toddler boys wore rompers or short trousers.


Clothes for children in the 1920s were less constrictive and allowed greater movement for daily activities and play than garments before World War I. The clothing that the children previously wore was adult garments of corsets and long skirts that hobbled physical freedom. Girls of the 1920s, in the summer, wore loosefitting cotton dresses with ankle-length socks and canvas shoes. Winter clothes included hand knitted sweaters and wool twill skirts. When it was cold, girls wore undershirts with long suspenders attached to keep up woollen stockings.

Boys, until the age of 16, wore short trousers kept up with suspenders in both hot and cold weather. Knee length socks, hand knitted jerseys and long-sleeved shirts kept boys warm in the wintertime. They wore short-sleeved shirts and slipovers (sleeveless sweaters) in summer. Canvas shoes were for footwear in winter and they wore warm boots in winter. Formal clothing for boys was linen knickers, a V-necked sweater with a bow tie and spectator, or oxford-type, shoes for casual wear. An English driving cap often topped off the look in a jaunty manner.


Teenage girls imitated the fashions of adult women. They wore shirt dresses with Peter Pan collars or large bowties. Teen girls wore shoes with ankle straps and blocky Cuban heels. Other shoe styles included pumps, Mary Janes and t-straps. Popular colours were black, gold, silver, bronze and silks. Teen girls sometimes flattened their breasts with corsets to obtain a boyish look.

When boys became 16 years of age, they started to dress in long trousers. White shirts and ties completed these outfits. Some teenage boys, in imitation of aviators, also wore leather jackets and flying coats. Hats, such as fedoras and golf caps, were fashion statements that imitated adult male style.

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About the Author

Anne Cagle has been writing ever since she was a toddler who could scribble with crayons. Her first published article, at age 12, was in a teachers' newsletter. She was published in "Optical Prism" magazine and has worked as a reviewer for the Webby Awards. She holds a degree in English from the University of Oregon.