Boys' Winter Clothing in the 1940s

Updated April 17, 2017

Fashion is ever-evolving, and that includes within the last century. Boys winter clothing in the 1940s was much different than today's boys' clothing. During the first half of the 1940s, the U.S. fought in World War II, and the women and children in the states were expected to ration items such as certain fabrics and metals for the war effort. As a result, boys' clothing was very simple and often reconstructed from hand-me-down adult clothing. A man's shirt, for example, could be taken in and shortened to fit a young boy. But harsh winters in many parts of the country meant that children needed to bundle up with the essentials.

The T-shirt

The T-shirt absorbed sweat and acted as an extra layer of insulation as a winter undergarment for boys. The T-shirt was initially worn only by the military during World War II, but the undergarment gained popularity with young male civilians, who could wear it underneath sweaters and coats during colder months, and alone during hotter months. During the late 1940s it was common to see young boys dressed in T-shirts and jeans.


Caps made of felt, among other materials, were worn by boys during the winter. In the early 1940s, boys' caps were shorter and flatter on top, with rounder crowns becoming more popular near the middle and end of the decade. Some winter caps included ear flaps that could be tied over the hat and away from the ears when not in use.


Knickers, which were cropped trousers that hit just below the knee, were fashionable for boys in the early 1940s. In the winter, knickers could be worn with thick socks so the entire leg was covered. During the mid-to -late1940s, knickers fell out of fashion in favour of the more casual look of denim jeans. Jeans could be worn in any season and were made from a durable enough fabric -- denim -- to withstand snow and activities such as climbing trees and building outdoor forts.

Ear Muffs

If a cap came with no ear flaps, many boys in the 1940s would wear ear muffs, a trend still popular today. Since many families lived in rural areas where shopping was scarce, catalogue retailers such as Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Montgomery Ward would offer childrens' winter clothing, including ear muffs, through catalogues. Montgomery Ward, for example, sold lamb fur ear muffs through its catalogue in the early 1940s, according to the website Historical Boys' Clothing.

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About the Author

Crystal Vogt has been an editor and freelance writer since 2005 and has had her work mentioned on MediaBistro, Yahoo! Finance and MSN Money, among other outlets. She received her M.S. in journalism from Boston University and holds a B.A. in English from UC Santa Barbara.