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  • Place of origin:

    UK (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1900-40 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cotton, machine knitted

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Valerie Mansfield

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Combinations are so called because they are a combination of vest and underpants. They were evidently patented in 1862: child-sized versions seem to have been introduced a little later later than those for adults, but continued in use into the 1930s. Combinations were made in a variety of fabrics, but in the UK those for children were often made from knitted woollen or cotton yarn.

Many families came to see them as quintessentially childhood garments. The lack of need for fastening or elastic around the waist may have made them more comfortable to wear and more easily washed; they also gave a neater appearance beneath clothes, and provided a warm layer of clothing in winter. Child wearers would not necessarily have agreed about the comfort, especially in warm weather, or when the fabric from which the combinations were made irritated the skin.

Physical description

Child's combinations of pale grey flecked knitted cotton, with a round neck and short sleeves, and a button-through front extending into a split crotch with a placket back. The legs and sleeves are all finished with a band of matching ribbing.

Place of Origin

UK (probably, made)


1900-40 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cotton, machine knitted


Length: 59.7 cm centre back

Object history note

RF 90/1177. Ex-shop stock, given by Valerie Mansfield, costume book illustrator and (with her husband Alan Mansfield) co-reviser of The History of Underclothes by C. Willett Cunnington and Phyllis Cunnington (revised version published London: Faber and Faber, 1981)

Descriptive line

Pair of combinations for a child: pale grey flecked machine knitted cotton; probably made in the UK 1900-40


Cotton yarn


Machine knitting; Stitching


Children's clothes; Children & Childhood; Underwear

Production Type

Mass produced


Museum of Childhood

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