In our series The Great War – Through a London’s Child, we’re following “The Private Diary of Edward Hampton” to learn about life as a London child in 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War.
So what did people wear in 1914?
Well, to start, people covered up a lot more than we do today.
Women and girls never wore trousers and women wore long dresses and skirts. Men and boys would always wear jackets and ties, and keep their coats on even if it was hot outside.
Hats were also very popular – almost everyone wore one, from flat caps with peaks and school caps to boaters, and a nice flowery Sunday best one for the girls!
Children’s clothes were usually miniature versions of their parents clothes.
Here’s what young girls and boys would have worn in 1914…
Clothes for young girls in 1914
- Knee-length dresses or high-collared blouses and knee-length skirt, with socks and sandals, shoes or ankle boots
- Popular colours – well not purple or multi-colours, more whites, creams and pastel shades
- There was quite a lot of lace around collars and cuffs, as well as dainty bows of ribbon. Girls also often wore ribbons in their hair to keep their curls or plaits in place
- When outdoors, knee-length coats or capes were popular. Girls might also wear a bonnet or a boater (that’s a flat straw hat that some schools had as part of their school uniforms)
- Girls from poorer families wore plainer dresses and skirts, made from heavier and more hard-wearing cloth
- To help keep their clothes clean, girls would cover their dresses with a pinafore – a white cotton apron
Clothes for young boys in 1914
- Short jackets, often made of tweed with lots of pockets – perfect to keep conkers in!
- To keep warm, boys might wear a waistcoat or a woolly jumper
- Young boys wore knee-length, baggy shorts and long woollen socks
- Older boys wore trousers.
- Both would wear sturdy leather boots
- Fashion amongst middle and upper class boys was to wear stiff, detachable collars which folded flat over the tops of their jackets or waistcoats. They were called ‘Eton collars’ because they imitated the uniform of the boys at Eton College.
- Working class boys usually wore collarless shirts with a V-neck woollen pullover
- And hair? Well a good old short back and sides
Clothes were made from natural materials such as wool, cotton and linen.
Modern fabrics such as nylon and polyester did not yet exist nor did zips or velcro so clothes were fastened by buttons, hooks or laces.