Immediately following World War II, many countries around the world experienced a sharp increase in births, known as the baby boom. This all-time high in total births resulted in a huge population of children during the 1950s, and for the first time in decades, families could afford multiple outfits for each child. Boys in America and Australia typically dressed casually, while children in Europe traditionally wore more formal clothing.
During the 1950s, many American families saw an increase in income. Because of this, they were able to afford several different outfits for each child -- a far departure from the Great Depression of the 1930s and rationing of the 1940s. Young boys under age 11 generally wore a short pants suit for church and long trousers for school. Older boys mimicked the popular styles worn on TV shows: cuffed blue jeans, white T-shirts, plaid button-up shirts, and sneakers, loafers or saddle shoes.
The styles worn by children in England were much more formal than that of their American counterparts. Most schools required boys to wear uniforms, consisting of a blazer, tie, shorts, knee socks and closed-toe sandals. These uniforms were typically worn in elementary schools through the first years of high school. As for play clothes, boys rarely wore denim trousers and sneakers, but instead, wore an old pair of school shorts and sandals.
France and Italy
Clothing styles in the 1950s in France and Italy were even more formal than those worn in England. Boys in elementary school wore short pantsuits or smocks, shorts, knee socks and dress loafers. These styles were generally worn year-round until boys reached age 13 or 14. When boys reached their early teens, they would wear long trouser suits to school. When playing, children wore formal shirts, shorts and knee socks, however, at home, boys typically wore denim jeans or corduroys.
The fashions seen in England and the United States dominated Australian culture throughout much of the 20th century. While most schools did not enforce a dress code during the 1950s, most young boys wore knee-length, baggy shorts. Younger boys often wore short pantsuits to school and for play, but teenage boys were strongly influenced by the styles shown in movies, such as "The Wild One" and "Rebel Without a Cause." Older Australian boys, like Americans, mimicked the rebellious styles of Hollywood and wore denim jeans, white T-shirts, plaid button-up shirts and sneakers or boots.