Boys' Clothes for Outings to the Park: Edwardian Era (1901-1918)

Figure 1.--This photograph shows children in Louisville's Central Park during 1907. Note how dressed up the children are with wide-brimmed hats, tunics, and sailor suits.

Park Outings

Park outings during the Edwardian era continued to be important events in the daily life of nursery-bound children. The pattern set in the Victorian period continued into the Edwardian era until the disruptions of the First World War (1914-18) brought about social and economic changes that changed child-rearing practices, especially the practice of confining small children to a nursery run by a nanny. Daily or periodic park outings for Edardian children, however, to the major public and local public and private parks continued to be the highlight of many children's day. Some of the better known parks are discussed on the Victorian park outing page.

Visits to these parks were often the most exciting event of the day for the children. I believe continued to be the nanny's duty to take the children. I believe it was rather rare for the affluent Edwardian mothers, as it had been or Victorian mothers, to supervise the children on these outings. I also think it was not the job of the governess who was primarily responsible for instruction, although she may have been involved with the outings of the older children. There may have well been some differences between countries. French and Italian mothers, for example, may have been more involved in raising the children as they do not seem to have insisted on confining the children so strictly to the nursery as the English. This is dicussed in more detail in the Victorian outing page

Edwardian Park Clothing

Even though park visits were esentially play outings, the Edwardian child, like his Victorian father, was often outfitted in rather formal clothes for these outings. Fortunately, the photographic record offers a much richer insight into clothing styles for park outings for most of the 19th century. Drawings and paintings offer some insights as do memoirs of the era. As the turn of the century passed, photography moved out of the studio and began supplying outdoor images. Most early photographs taken in parks will be Edwardian images, but hand-held amateur Kodak cameras were available in the 1890s, so there may be some late Victorian images from the 1890s.

Figure 2.--The first photographs depicting visits to the park appeared around the turn of the century. They show boys in rather formal clothes like Fauntleroy suits. After the turn of the century Fauntleroy suits with short pants and white kneesocks appeared.

Edwardian boys wore many of the same styles popular in the 1880s-90s, but there were some changes. Small Edwardian boys still wore dresses, but by the 1910s this custom had begun to decline witth younger and younger boys kept in dresses. Likewise Fautleroy suits and kilts were still popular durin thr first decade of the new century, but apidly declined in the 1910s. Many of tgechanges with dresses, kilts, and Fauntleroy suits appear to have been accelerated by World War I (1914-18). Fashions popular in the pre-War preiod appear to have disappeared. Sailoe suits were popular choices for park wear. Frencgh boys appear to worn smocks. American boys were often dressed in Buster Brown suits or Russian blouses. Short pants became increasingly popular for boys in the Edwardian era, thus boys with above the knee shorts and kneesocks and ankle socks began to appear in Fauntlroy suits and sailor suits instead of the long stockings previously worn. At first only small boys would wear ankle socks with short pants.

There appears to have been some difference in dress depending on what park was visited. English cities had small parks to which local property owners had acces to. Children going to these parks or local public parks may have been dressed more informally than children beung taken to one of the large public parks such as Central Park or Hyde Park.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: July 10, 1998
Last updated: July 10, 1998