The most popular item for younger boys in the 1930s was the shorts and shirt suit, held together by buttons at the waist. It was known as a buster suit.

Boys of all ages wore short trousers and it was only when they hit their mid-teens that they could be promoted to long trousers, although some schools still insisted that all male pupils wore shorts. For formal occasions, boys’ suits were often smaller versions of those worn by their fathers.


Popular American child star Shirley Temple and the young Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, influenced girls’ fashions, in particular party dresses which featured multiple frills of organdy and ribbon.


Title: Joce and Gill at Home
Date: [1936-1940]

Film-maker: Joseph Emberton

A group of children attend Jocelyn’s 7th birthday party in the Emberton’s garden.
The girls at the party wear similar style, knee-length dresses, with puffed sleeves and Peter Pan collars. The main variation is in fabric design – whether checked, floral or solid colour. The girls’ party frocks in this clip are decorated with frills and ribbons.

One of the boys at the party wears a blue and green buster suit. As he stands at the top of the slide, it is possible to see the buttons that fasten the shorts to the shirt. The dyed cotton shirt has long sleeves, pointed collar and buttons all the way up the front. The wide-legged shorts are made from a thicker material. The waistband is designed to look like a belt to disguise the fact that the outfit is an all-in-one tunic. Another boy wears a green short-sleeved open-collared shirt and separate khaki-coloured linen shorts.


Title: Joce and Gill at Home
Date: [1936-1940]

Film-maker: Joseph Emberton

Jocelyn and Gillian Emberton are filmed riding on ponies on Blackpool Beach in 1939 in matching red and blue tartan printed cotton dresses.

The girls’ dresses are short with long sleeves, high necks and Peter Pan collars. They also wear identical sunhats. Matching dresses for sisters were popular in this period. The Sears Catalogue for 1940, a year after this film was made, shows an advert for a ‘Big-and-Little-Sister two-piece jacket dress in a tartan print’


Title: [Garden scenes; Wedding pictures; Seaside; Toddler]
Date: [1930s]
Film-maker: Not known

This toddler wears a typical cream knitted outfit, comprising a little jacket and trousers, which has most likely been homemade.