How to Dress a Boy in a Vintage 1940s Look

24 May

For a throw-back look for theme parties to parades, or just plain old-fashioned fun, here’s how you can dress your wee lads in a vintage 1940s look.

{How to Dress a Boy in a Vintage 1940s Look}

Next weekend will be the 67th anniversary of D-Day — the largest amphibious assault in world history.

To commemorate the Allies’ June 6, 1944 landing on the beaches of Normandy, France, the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum will hold it’s annual World War II Commemorative Weekend, one of the biggest WWII reenactments in North America.

For reenactors and history enthusiasts, as well as vintage lovers of days gone by, this is the must-attend event of the year, held in Reading, Pa. Naturally, to be ready for such an epic weekend, it takes some wardrobe planning, and sometimes a little collaboration …

Hi Robin,
Hope all is well. I was wondering if you might be able to give me some ideas. I am looking for clothes for Reading, having no luck, (as usual).
My grandson will be coming down for a day. You had Regan dressed so adorable last year and I am hoping you can guide me as to where to find an outfit for him.
Thank you,

How to Dress a Boy in a Vintage 1940s Look:

My reply:
So, a couple of items make the basic outfit:

  • A tapered leg dress pant
  • A dress shirt (button-down with collar)
  • A tie or bow tie
  • Suspenders

Bonus Items: Hat & Waistcoat/vest

For a hat (newsboy cap or fedora): Check the mainstream stores — Children’s Place, Gap Kids, Gymboree, and H&M

For Suspenders: Go to H&M first and then the previously mentioned stores.

For Dress Shirt/Vest/Tie or bow tie: Check dept. stores or “ethnic” neighborhood children’s retail clothing store. Often at both retail options, these are sold together as a set (mostly it’s the tie/shirt combo).

For Dress Slacks: While you are at the above stores, you can look for the pants, but rarely are they found — or affordable. So go to a children’s consignment shop or thrift store.

For all the items above: A thrift shop will have you covered 8 times out of 10 — minus the suspenders and hat, which are extraordinarily hard to find for children in thrift stores.

As for shoes: Check Payless Shoe Source for a basic brogue or wingtip loafer. Payless carries Buster Brown’s which usually has a classic line to the shoe. Also, for fun, sometimes Reagan wears his Chuck Taylors, or as he work last year, a canvas slip-on, and it seems to work, too.

What’s the Take-Away?

Put a boy in a three-piece suit, top him in a fedora, and wahla!

Basic menswear hasn’t changed drastically since the advent of the modern suit. This means that for mamas and grandparents looking to dress their boys in a style of yesteryear, the job is pretty simple.

But, for accuracy’s sake, it is important to note that the style my son is wearing and the shopping how-to I’ve just listed is not an exact match for children’s wear of the 1940s.

The style I am suggesting is that of putting a young boy in a classic (albeit basic) men’s 1940s look. It’s the easiest and quickest way to take a modern child and throw him back in time — while creating an adorable effect which grabs the attention of every camera within three-square miles!

If you are in the Mid-Atlantic region, or want an excuse to have a weekend trip to the East Coast, you simply must check out Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II Commemorative Weekend.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been going since it began — I was barely 11 back then — and the years of full squadrons of WWII vets being in attendance are quickly slipping into the annals of history. But there are still an amazing number of veterans — both Allies and Axis — who attend and speak at the event.

Truly, this is the event’s most incredible feature — being able to speak and learn the first-hand accounts of history.

For me, being a swing dancer, the cherry on top is dancing with a veteran at the evenings’ big band dances under a Quonset Hut hanger, looking over his uniformed shoulder and seeing the silhouette of my favorite bird — the B17, the flying fortress.

Next weekend I’ll be sure to take lots of photos and some video, too. But send me a message if you plan to attend so we can meet up! In the meantime, here is a little taste of living history:

I need a French name, as does my son, because I’ll be role-playing a French partisan in a German-occupied village. Please include any name suggestions in your comments below! merci beaucoup


5 Responses to “How to Dress a Boy in a Vintage 1940s Look”

  1. Lynn Dalsing May 24, 2011 at 11:17 PM #

    He’s darling. Would he just hate me for saying so?

    I always liked Brigitte, Lucie and Geneviève. Adora is also apparently French and then you would have the same name as She-Ra!

    For boys, I like Etienne or Armand.


  2. laurettalynne May 25, 2011 at 7:18 AM #

    OK these are names you can not pick: Monique, Bridgette (Gigi), Amelie, Lola, Daphne, Josephine, Fifi, Mimi, and Sophia. These are all my sisters who work in the Cafe.

    I have always liked Sabine, Yvette, Manon (from the movie Manon of the Spring), Lorraine, and Maddie. Lucie and Genevieve are also good names as Lynn suggested.


  3. Nancy Ott May 25, 2011 at 9:00 AM #

    Thank you for the interesting article on the 67th anniversary of D-Day. My son, who is a little older than you son, is an avid WWI and WWII history enthusiast and would be very interested to visit the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, if we are ever in the area.

    As the daughter of a French-Canadian, some of my favourite French names are Sylve (accent over the e), Pascal (or Pascale, depending upon the gender of the individual who is the owner of the name – Pascal denotes “peace” and is the name of my great grandfather),
    Georges, Jean Paul (or plain Jean or Jeanne, again depending on the owner’s gender)and Andre. Hope this helps.

    Love all the other names suggested, as well.

    Best wishes for your re-enactment.



  4. Heather May 25, 2011 at 10:39 PM #

    Robin- nice piece! I’ll probably be at Fri night’s dance since 1) I have a family party Sat and 2) I hate the band on Saturday.

    My Dad’s first wife, who is originally from Paris, is named Vivienne. Her brother is George (pronounced of course with the zh sound in place of the g’.)
    Then of course, there is Francois, (my brother is Frank), Veronique (a family name)… the list goes on .
    See you then!


  5. Henri Bouvier November 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM #

    Yoiu can go wtih the following
    Rene, Henri,
    Pierre and Andre


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