Figure 1.--This portrait is of William and Ida Cross, They were photographed in August 1886 at the Fleming Studio in Southsea, Hampshire. William wears a top hat and emaculate Eton suit, but I do not think it was his school uniform. Ida wears a wide-brimmed hat and classic sailor outfit. Photo supplied coutesy of the MD collection.
This brother and sister, William and Ida Cross, were photographed in August 1886 at the
Fleming Studio in Southsea, Hampshire. They are clearly from an affluent English family, although we have no details about them at this time. They look to be about 12-14 years old William wears a top hat and emaculate Eton suit, but I do not think it was his school uniform. Ida wears a wide-brimmed hat and classic sailor outfit. This is the only image we have of them so I do not know how they dressed when they were younger.
This portrait show brother and sister, William and Ida Cross. They are clearly from an affluent English family, although we have no details about them at this time. A British reader tells us, "I've been unable to find them in the 1901 Census - William Cross is a extremely common name, and Ida would probably have been married by 1901." The children look to be about 12-14 years old. Ida looks to be a few years older than William. Many boys wore Eton suits in the late 19th century, but top hats were expensive and only boys from rather affluent families would have worn them. We assume that as William came from an affluent family that he attended a boarding school and was home on his summer break. He looks to be about the age that he would be finishing his preparatory school and entering his public school. We are less sure about Ida. It was less common to send one's daughter toboarding school. There were, however, girl's boarding schools in the 1880s and it was becoming increasingly common to educate girls at schools. A British reader tells us, "I note your comments about girls boarding schools. It is unlikely I feel that this girl in 1886 would have gone away to school. More likely that she would have been educated at home with a governess."
They were photographed in August 1886. This is the summer holiday in England so they were presumaby on their school break. The HBC reader who provided us this old photograph, reviewed his collection, assuming that he could find an eralier image with a girl wearing a tradituonal sailor outfit. The earliesrt image that he coould find, however, was of unidentified children that looks to be from the 1890s. This suggests that girls in England began wearing traditional sailor suits in the mid 1880s. We do not note this becoming a coomon style until the 1890s when whole families might be outfitted in identical middy blouses.
They were photographed at the Fleming Studio in Southsea, Hampshire. We believe, however, that this was not where they were from, but rather a holiday resort town. Presumably they had their portraits taken while on holiday. Interestingly the studio backdrop has nothing to do with the beach or sea. Note that while on holiday, they are dresses very formally. Affluent families even at a beach resort dressed well. The fact that their family takes a summer holiday in the 1880s is another factor leading us to believe that they come from an affluent family. Southsea is part of Portsmouth, home of the Royal Navy which may have influenced the choice of the sailor outfit for Ida. A British reader writes, "There is no reason why they should not have lived locally, it would have been a reasonably affluent area, perhaps their father had naval connections."
William wears a top hat and emaculate Eton suit, but I do not think it was his school uniform. Ida wears a wide-brimmed hat and classic sailor outfit. This is the only image we have of them so I do not know how they dressed when they were younger.
Ida wears a wide brimmed sailor hat with color edging and a classic sailor outfit. The hat and middy blouse was classic styles that could just as easily been worn by a boy. Presimably her wide-brimmed hat has a long streamer at the back. Ida of course wears her sailor outfit with a very long skirt. Notice the black strip detailing at the hem. Also notice her dark leather gloves. She wears her gloves, unlike her brother. Also notice the lanyard. The end is neatly tucked under her blouse. Thus we do not know if she actually had a whistle or just what was on the end of it. Also notice her long straight hair.
This outfit is interesting as it shows that sailor dresses in the classic style were fashionable for girls in the mid 1880s. This is helpful for our chronology of sailor dresses. We have noticed girls wearing dresses with sailor influences or dresses based in sailor styles in the 1870s. The portrait here is, however, the earliest image we have of a girl wearing a classically styled sailor outfit, meaning one with the middy blouse realistically styled like the actual Royal Navy uniform. We do not think this was a school unifirm, but rather an outfit chose by Ida's mother, although Ida is reaching an age where she might have something to say about her clothes as well.
William wears anout a perfect example of an Eton suit as one can imagine. I am not precisely sure when the Eton suit became a standard for boys' wear, but it appears to have been the accepted style by the 1880s. William's suit is very plain. The jacket, vest (waistcoat), and trousers all match. He wears his suit with a smart top hat. William has a crisp Eton collar, although not an especially large one. He also has a fob, presumably with a pocket watch. Note that William has buttoned all hisvest buttons. The convention of leaving the bottom button unbuttoned developed later after Edward VII became king in 1901. William has politely removed his gloves--the expected convention for a young gentleman. Every thing about his outfit is perfect, down to the break of his trousers on his shoes. Note his short hair cut.
The plainess of William's suit leads us to believe that it is his suit rather than a school uniform. The Eton suit was worn at, of course, Eton as well as other public schools, but each school had its own embelishments such as colored vests or stripped trousers. William's Eton suit is free of all such embelishments. A British reader agrees, "I would imagine that these are the childrens 'Sunday Best' clothes and not their regular schoolwear."
This is the only image we have of them so I do not know how they dressed when they were younger. I am not sure just when this suit was bought for William. We suspect that it is realtively new. Unfortunatlely we do not kbow what he wore when he was younger.
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