An Unexpected Fashion Revolution

The Lempert Report
December 20, 2023

On the bullseye – no one seems to be able to pinpoint exactly when the fashion trend started, but the fashion trend of boys wearing suits is upon us. The tradition of young boys wearing suits dates to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this period, children's clothing was a direct reflection of adult fashion. It wasn't uncommon to see young boys dressed in miniature versions of their fathers' suits. This trend was particularly prevalent among the upper classes, where formal attire was a symbol of status and respectability.  A notable shift occurred in the late 19th century with the introduction of the sailor suit for boys. Inspired by naval uniforms, these suits became immensely popular and were considered both stylish and suitable for everyday wear. The sailor suit, with its nautical flair, marked the beginning of age-appropriate dressing for children, offering more comfort and freedom of movement than traditional suits. Then the roaring 20’s came and the 1920s brought significant changes to children's fashion. With the growing emphasis on comfort and practicality, the rigid formality of the past began to wane. Boys' suits became simpler and more functional, reflecting the casualization of dress that was sweeping through adult fashion as well. Following World War II, there was a brief resurgence in traditional dressing for boys. The 1950s saw a return to formality, with suits for young boys regaining popularity. This period is marked by a blend of classic styles with new, more comfortable fabrics and relaxed tailoring, accommodating the needs of an increasingly active youth.

Fast track forward and the July 2022 release of Minions: The Rise of Gru became yet another milestone in boy’s fashion as teenage boys hit movie theaters in their 8th grade graduation finest - most of the time wearing dark sunglasses to make their fashion statement official. Their swagger was part businessman, part secret service with a dash of self-awareness according to NPR. On TikTok the fashion trend, under the #gentleminions and related hashtags, reached over 100 million views. The junior male fashionistas were so impactful that some movie theaters did what I consider a really dumb thing and banned the wearing of fancy suits at their screenings. Right, let’s ban kids from dressing up and having fun. No comment. The idea of dressing up became a cult-like phenomenon and in my opinion added a bit of class to an age group of pre and teen boys that typically were known for, well, being slobs?

Just last week, according to a column in the Washington Post, two 8-year-olds, third graders, in Chelsea Main came to school dressed in suits. James Ramage and Lincoln Bolitho and added a bit of panache to Chelsea Elementary School. James asked his parents for a suit for his 7th birthday and started wearing it to school - when he was in the first grade. And now with his bud Lincoln, they are the dashing duo who wear suits to school every Wednesday. Teachers, their bus driver and now even other students have all joined in. The school is encouraging students and staff and sent out a notice to encourage all to join in on what is now called - “Dapper Wednesday”! James and Lincoln report that they are receiving lots of compliments and say that when people say they look good “It just made my heart feel really good.”

It’s a wakeup call for us all as we enter a new year and put the work styles of the past few years behind us. Wouldn’t it be great to have all our hearts feeling good? And if all it takes is brushing off that suit and tie, it’s an easy ask.

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