Now that I have a vintage camping trailer, I thought it would be fun to wear some vintage camping clothes. Taking a look back on 1920s to 1950s hiking and camping clothes, I have a choice from long skirts, to knickers, to pants, and even dresses. What decade would you most like to camp in?
Follow the links within for shopping suggestions and more history of each type of clothing.
1920s Hiking, Camping Clothes
The sport togs outfit of the 1900s-1910s continued to be worn in the 1920s. Some ladies wore an everyday skirt and blouse pairing, but most women wore togs. Cross-dressing in menswear or men’s inspired clothing was trendy with teenagers and practical for women who took hiking and camping seriously.
In the 1920s, there was a greater variety of shirts and neckties, jackets, sweaters, and cardigans to choose from. They paired well with a pair of breeches (aka knicker pants), tall golf socks, and lace up boots or low heel oxford shoes. 1920s outdoor hats could be bucket hats, wide brim western hats, safari hats, soft cloche hats, and flat caps (golf caps). All inspired by men’s workwear and casual clothing.
These sport outfits were used for all kind of outdoor sports and activities as well as some female occupations such as driver, filmmaker, and farmer.
Shop women’s breeches/workwear style clothing.
For men’s clothing look at Men’s 1920s Camping, Hiking, Hunting Clothes.
1930s Hiking, Camping Clothes
The sport togs hiking outfit was also worn throughout the 1930s. With a little more variety in styles of breeches, knickers, plus fours (men’s golf pants) as well as long riding jodhpurs, women could choose a unique hiking or camping outfit.
Shorts were the newest contribution to hiking clothes in the 1930s. Some women simply cut pants and made long walking shorts that looked like knickers/plus fours, pairing them with long socks or boots. Or in the later 1930s, they took long pants and rolled them up to the knee.
Most women, however, purchased sport shorts (or gym shorts) to wear on casual hikes and camping trips. Girls and teens flocked to summer camps where a pair of shorts or a playsuit (romper) was the required uniform.
Long pants and overalls became more common later in the 1930s. These casual outfits turned into appropriate hiking and camping clothes when made of durable denim or heavy cotton twill. Learn more about women’s 1930s pants and overalls styles.
1940s Hiking, Camping Clothes
The biggest trend in hiking and camping clothes in the 1940s were long pants and denim jeans (also overalls). Women took long pants and rolled them up to calf or knee for a trendy new look inspired by the teenager’s fashion trend for wearing men’s jeans.
Westernwear, too, was frequently worn for outdoor activities.
1950s Hiking and Camping Clothes
The rolled denim pants of the ’40s were still popular, but now the 1950s introduced cropped capri pants and pedal pushers. Denim was best for rugged hiking and camping, but lighter weight cottons were fine for camping. There was little distinction between “camping clothes” and general casual fashions.
Not all camping had to be rustic. Glamping started in the 1950s, when many women still wore dresses while camping. Modern tents, camp stoves, and trailers made camping cleaner, while an abundance of new, paved, trailer parks and campsites literally paved the way to glamorous camping.
Hiking Boots Through the Decades
The turn of the century saw women taking to the out-of-doors in droves. Their need for sturdy boots was a growing industry. Abercrombie was one such company who is still around today. Their hiking boots were over the calf high with long laces and hooks for maximum flexibility. Paired with tall socks, hiking boots remained unchanged from the 1910s to the 1940s. Shop boots.
Once hiking and camping became less serious and more casual, so did footwear.
- Frye Boots – Tall lace up Veronica boots are $$$ but worth it.
- Royal Vintage also has Bessie boots based on the 1930s pair of hiking boots.
- Redwing Heritage boots are the best quality for short lace up boots.
Canvas sport sneakers such as classic Keds “Champion” or Converse style hi- and lo-top shoes were worn from the 1930s onward, but especially in the 1950s and 1960s. They came in a lot of bright fun colors, with thick rubber soles. Shop sneakers.
Hats were an essential part of hiking outfits in the mid century. Starting in the late teens and early twenties, sporty hats were soft felt or straw bucket hats with a rolled brim. Hat colors coordinated with outfits: yellow-gold, white, lilac purple, jade green, hunter green, and gas blue.
The rolled brim bucket hats turned into cloche hats with a narrow brim and tighter fit. Many sport hats had a versatile brim that could be flipped up or down, side to side. Colors were sand, dark brown, rose pink, bright red, black and green.
The cloche hat remained popular in the 1930s, being replaced by small felt hats with a round crown and flip-able roll brim. Sears clothing company called them Gadabout hats. They were not too unlike the 1920s version but much smaller overall. Hat colors were navy blue, tan, pink-rose, royal blue and white.
Late 1930s and 1940s sport hats took on the look of menswear hats such as the fedora. They also looked a bit like Robin Hood hats with a pinch front, soft brim, and plain hat band. Common colors were green, brown and grey.
By the 1950s the need for sport hats had dwindled. Women looking at casual clothes as a chance to be hatless. Women who did wear hats had the choice of a cotton baseball cap or the traditional felt or cotton round hat with flip rolled brim.
Repro Brands for Outdoor Clothes
What hiking outfits are you planning to wear? These new and reproduction clothing brands can help create a quality outdoor friendly outfit.
Old Field Clothing – Knickers, trousers, shirts and knitwear in durable countryside friendly fabrics.
Cathcart London– Sometimes carried rugged 1930s repro clothes for women and a 1930s polo shirt is always in rotation.
House of Foxy – Breeches and shorts in the 1930s-1940s styles.
Freddies of Pinewood (UK) – 1940s and 1950s jeans and overalls for women. VivienofHolloway also has good 40s and 50s jeans and jackets that are quite durable. Lady K Loves– is well knot for vintage denim jeans, shorts and coordinating tops.
BluecityShop– Is where I bought my light corduroy breeches/riding pants. Similar shops on etsy and ebay imported from India. Photos are not always accurate.
Emmy Design – Creates high quality tweed pants, coats and knitwear in the fall/winter season. In summer, the shorts and blouses would be nice.
Bloody Edith – Casual 1930s-1950s clothing, mostly in summer weight fabrics. Good for Resort, Riviera, and Tropical looks.
Vercona Vintage– Excellent trousers, knickers and suits in tweed/wool fabrics.
Palava Quirky prints and colors. Casual, colorful pants, knitwear and tops.
Dehen 1920 A small selection of casual jackets, chore coats, and heavy shirts.
Schott NYC – Mostly leather jackets, some suede jackets, sweaters and boots. Excellent quality.
Many women wore men’s clothes which were easier to find and less expensive. That may be a good choice for you too. See the list of men’s brands under “workwear/casual.”
- 1900s-1910s Edwardian Hiking and Sport Clothes for Women
- Vintage Trailer Camping 101
- Vintage Overalls History – 1910s to 1950s
- 1920s Men’s Workwear and Casual Clothes
- 1930s-1950s Westernwear History
Debbie Sessions has been teaching fashion history and helping people dress for vintage themed events since 2009. She has turned a hobby into VintageDancer.com with hundreds of well researched articles and hand picked links to vintage inspired clothing online. She aims to make dressing accurately (or not) an affordable option for all. Oh, and she dances too.