1920s Children's Fashion Facts: A Shift Towards Comfort & Convenience

The 1920s were a time of change, and the clothing experienced some big alterations! Get the facts on the kids' clothing styles of this decade.

Updated February 2, 2024
Vintage Family Photograph

Changes in children's clothing styles were part of the shifting cultural landscape of the 1920s. Though fashions for children changed less drastically than those for adults, there were some notable variations in the fabric types and overall usability of the apparel compared to years past.

If you're looking to learn more about children's fashion in the 1920s or where to find this style of clothing for your child, we detail all the roaring developments that occurred with kid's garments in the early 20th century. 

Pre-1920s Children's Clothes: Before World War I

Before World War I, children dressed in the same way they had for centuries — like small adults. While shorter dresses for girls and sailor suits for boys still appeared in the mid-19th century, the idea of clothes specifically designed for children did not take hold until much later.

Children's Fashion in 1920 & Beyond: The Roaring Twenties

By the 1920s, children's clothes were designed with children's needs in mind. This put a focus on comfortable clothing that allowed kids to play more freely. The Roaring Twenties was an era that emphasized liberation, and this was reflected in apparel trends for men, women, and children. Here are some of the more notable changes that the 1920s brought to children's fashion. 

1920s children

Streamlined Layering

Clothing designers maximized comfort through simpler styles. While people had worn multiple layers throughout prior decades, a 1920s summer outfit might consist of a single layer over underwear.

Even in winter, clothing was kept streamlined with minimal layers. Common outfits included wool dresses worn over stockings and long knit underwear suits with a knitted sweater and jacket on top.

Durable & Low-Maintenance Fabrics

Velvet, lace, muslin, and silk, used for wealthy children's clothes, were set aside for special occasions. In the 1920s, children wore clothes made of cotton and wool, with knit jerseys, cardigans, serge skirts, and shorts becoming common.

Youngster rides his tricycle on the sidewalks of New York City, c. 1920

Cotton and wool were sturdy fabrics that could withstand the weather and hold up well to rough and tumble play. Clothes that didn't require careful washing, starching, and pressing were also a benefit to busy mothers, allowing them to move their focus to other things.

Styles for Children in the 1920s

Clothing styles for both children and adults became less ornate and more practical in the 1920s. Styles changed for both girls and boys, but since girls had spent many centuries wearing restrictive clothing, they reaped the biggest rewards from these new fashions.

Girls' Clothes

Girls' summer dresses became short, loose, and made of cotton. Light cardigans were often worn over them. Summer shoes were usually made of canvas, making them lighter than the hard boots of the Victorian age. Toddler girls also wore rompers, giving them a modest look while they played. 

Little girl in a striped dress with a bow on her head, 1920s

In winter, girls wore heavy sailor suits or serge skirts with a sweater, often with a matching beret. A knitted suit of long underwear went underneath and included attachments for holding up long stockings.

Fast Fact

After centuries of having long hair, most girls started wearing their hair short, often in a bob cut. A big bow or ribbon adorned this simple style.

Boys' Clothes

Boys wore knickers, or knee-length trousers, all year round. Gradually, these trousers grew shorter, so boys had bare knees through early adolescence. In summer, they wore ankle socks with canvas shoes or sandals, and in winter they wore heavy knee socks.

Boy posing with hands behind back, 1920s

Boys also wore lots of knitted pullovers and cardigans. For school, they still wore suit jackets and ties, but these were much less restrictive than before. Special occasions might warrant a sailor suit or something made of velvet, but these were less fussy than their counterparts of the Victorian era.

Where to Buy 1920s Styles for Children

Perhaps you and your kids like the 1920s styles, or maybe you just want to take your children to a costume event that's themed around this era. You can find several excellent sources online for buying vintage 1920s children's clothing and reproductions.

If you're handy with a needle and thread, you can also use sewing patterns to make your own reproductions. Here are some of the best spots to shop and to look for style inspiration.


Several sellers on Etsy offer vintage children's clothing for sale. Many of these sites also feature shoes and accessories.

  • Twinkletots Vintage - At Twinkletots Vintage, you'll find a large assortment of vintage clothing for boys and girls, along with shoes, accessories, and patterns.
  • VintageVixen - This shop features vintage apparel for both children and adults from throughout the 20th century. VintageVixen has a solid selection of infant clothing from the 1920s, making it a good spot to shop for younger kids.


On eBay, you'll find an excellent selection of vintage 1920s clothing for children. Whether you're shopping for a cotton Baptismal gown for a little girl, a boy's sailor suit, or swimsuits, you'll stand an excellent chance of finding all of it and more on this site!

Vintage Dancer

If you're interested in reproductions of 1920s-era kids' fashions, then you will want to check out Vintage Dancer. The website features an outstanding clearinghouse of links to items like hats, dresses, skirts, sailor suits, and knickers from Nordstrom, Amazon, Brooks Brothers, and Target.

So Vintage Patterns

So Vintage Patterns has a tremendous selection of sewing patterns for men's, women's, and children's clothes. You can browse page after page of vintage patterns from multiple eras in the Children's Vintage Patterns category.

Related: A Full History of Children's Clothing 

The Spirit of the Age

It's important to realize that many of the fashions associated with the Roaring Twenties, such as flapper dresses, were for adults only and not for children. The Victorian idea of the sanctity of childhood became even more firmly expressed in 1920s children's clothing.

Just as a little girl wouldn't wear lipstick or high heels, neither would she wear the elaborate, more revealing clothing of her older sisters. Childhood was a time of innocent fun, and this perspective was expressed in the simple styles of the era.

Knowing the facts about kids' fashions of the era can help kids learn about the period, and the shift towards comfortable styles at that time means kids can even sport these looks today. Get inspired by a peek into the past with this look at kids' clothing from the 1920s. 

1920s Children's Fashion Facts: A Shift Towards Comfort & Convenience