What did girls wear in the 1930s?
Young girls fashion in the 1930s meant wearing dresses almost all day, everyday.
Dresses in small prints (florals and dots) or solids with contrasting ruffles, piping, cotton lace and ribbon came in a variety of pastel colors. Richer hues came into style in the second half of the 1930s (deep blue, burgundy, green.)
Toddler age girls dresses were waist-less, with puff sleeves and a white collar. Some had tie backs starting around the ribs. Dresses were hemmed above the knee growing longer with every year she aged.
School age girls, 6-10, would wear belted to waist tied dresses, also with puffed sleeves and a collar. The hemline was down to the knee to below the knee by the time they reach age 10. Their dresses looked nearly identical to those of their mother’s house dresses/daytime casual dresses.
For church, graduation, confirmation and parties young girls dresses were made in nicer fabrics with more ruffles and bows.
Dresses were worn with colorful ankle socks in summer and long knit stockings (held up with garters) in winter. A sweater or long coat was also worn in winter to keep warm.
Most girls did not wear hats on the daily. They were required for church. Hats started out as cloches in the early 30s and changed to small brim hats, berets, and bonnets for most of the 1930s.
What did girls wear to school in 1930?
For school days, 1930s girls wore dresses or skirts and blouse/sweater sets.
Children were expected to dress well to go to school, although in rural areas and during the depression these expectations could not be met. Poor children wore whatever hand-me-downs, charity, or cheaply made dresses they could get.
Many mothers and grandmothers would collect pretty flour sack bags to make clothing for babies and young girls. A mother’s old dress would also be remade into children’s clothing. Nothing was wasted in the 1930s.
Many schools require girls to wear special clothes for gym class. These were usually a white blouse or polo shirt with a pair of shorts. More about gym clothes.
Did girls carry bookbags? Most school age girls only carried their lunch to school in a simple sack bag. Older girls in wealthier cities may have had a briefcase style book bag (similar to a messenger style bag today.)
What did casual girls clothing look like?
Did girls wear trousers in the 1930s? Yes. Unlike women, girls were wearing overalls and trouser leg play clothes from the time they could walk. As they ages these play clothes became work clothes for helping on the farm or in the garden.
Overalls were the most common pant for girls in the 1930s. Wide leg trousers, rompers or shorts, especially in white or blue with nautical themes, were popular summer clothes. Girls wore them on the weekends and at home.
The beach pajama trend in the early 1930s has young girls and teen wearing colorful jumpsuits to the beach, lake, or just out to play. They were fun and comfortable.
Girls play clothes heavily influence women’s casual clothing in the 1930s and beyond.
What style of shoes did girls wear?
1930s girls shoes came in several styles. The dressiest were one strap or T strap low heel shoes in white or black patent leather. These were best for indoor use to going to church and parties.
For everyday wear, a lace up oxford shoe was the most practical shoe. They came in brown or white. Some fun colors and two tones (yes, saddle shoes) were sold in the summer.
Girls 1930s footwear followed similar styles to women’s shoes, but always with a flat or very low heel. Girls were not allowed to wear higher heel shoes until their late teens.
Sandals, worn with socks, were another footwear for girls. They are what you might call fisherman sandals today, not flip flops.
Sneakers, were flat white canvas low top and high top shoes worn for gym class.
In winter lace up leather boots kept feet warm and dry. Rubber rain boots were also an option.
More 1930s Girls Fashion History
From Clothing the child, by Florence E. Young, 1935
Girls Ages 3-8
Girl of school age This young miss will need many little cotton prints as well as plain colored cotton dresses, durable, simple in line, and yet individual. There will need be a change in style of dress for this age level.
As girls grow so fast they become awkward and ungainly. Those dresses that hang from the shoulders are no longer becoming, and so belted dresses take there place. A silk dress has its place for occasional wear, but for school it is out of place.
Simple slips now are an important article in the wardrobe. These can be of knitted rayon or silk and of slip-over style. Panties should be simple and devoid of elastic.
For the young girl in this group, anklets (socks) are still appropriate; but for the ten and twelve year old they are out of place.
Older Girls Ages 8-14
Adolescent girls: For this group we want the simplest, unsophisticated dresses, something to keep our young girls youthful. It is at this age they try to wear the adult fashions.
From ten on, two other undergarments may be needed in the growing girl’s wardrobe – braissécrs, not restricting, and a foundation garment of light weight firm material. The latter gives the body more shape and hives a smooth surface for the outer garment.
Long hose (socks) should be worn, and they should never be rolled either.
While I don’t focus on children’s fashion on VintageDancer, I am happy to answer questions you have. Use the contact form to send me an email.
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.