Conventions for dressing boys have varied over time. One popular convention was to dress boys of similar age in similar or coordinated outfits. This varied from family to family. There were also many age associated clothing conventions these have varied over time as well as the populatrity of age-graded clothing itself. One major such convention was dressing younger boys in skirted garments, but this convention declined after the turn of the 20th century. Another major convention was dressing boys in shortened length pants of various styles. Like breeching, obtaining one's first long pants became for many years a major milestone in a boy's life. Here we can both look at some of these conventins as well as clothing worn by boys at specific ages over time.
One popular convention was to dress boys of similar age in similar or coordinated outfits. If there were young enough boys and girls during the 19th century could even be dressed alike. This varied from family to family. We see quite a number of American children wearing identical outfits in the photographic record. The sailor suit was an important garment used in these identical or coordinated outfits, but it was only one of many. We do not think that corrdinated dressing was as common as in Germany, but we have found quite a few examples. Many are in the 19th or early-20th century, in part becausecfamilies tended to be large. One of the best known example of brothers and sisters dressed alike is Ernest Hemmingway in the early 1900s. His mother Grace loved to dress him and his older sister in identical frocks. At the time it was not unusual for sometimes quite big boys to wear dresses. Often the dresses worn by boys would have some boyish touches, perhaps the color or plainer style to identify the boy's gender. Grace Hemmingway, however, dressed Earnest and his sister in absolutely identical outfits. This fashion was passing, however, and Earnest's younger brother Leister, named after his uncle, was not outfitted in dresses.
In contrast to identical outfits, some parents (mostly mothers) took an age-graded approach. Age grading was adopted in many other countries, but seems especially popular in America. There were different approaches here. Many mothers focused exclusively on clothing. Many age associated clothing conventions these have varied over time as well as the populatrity of age-graded clothing itself. Thus we see families with several children altering the outfits to some extent varying on the child's age. Sometimes the variations are minor such as just changeing the collar and/or neckwear. This was particularly popilar in the late 19th and vert-early 20th century when floppy bows and large collars were stylish. This also made in very easy tto add or remove age gradeing touches. Others are more significant such as varting the type of shirt/blouse and trousers. We have age gradeing discussions on many of the specific garment pages. Clothing was not the only element in age gradeing. Hair styles were also used. Some mothers used clothing items and others hair styles. And others used both clothing and hair styles. This wac largely determined by each mothers fashion sence.
One major such convention was dressing younger boys in skirted garments. This was very common in the 19th century as it was for several centuries earlier. Here trends in America may have been somewhat different than in Europe, but by the 19th century they were very similar. The convention of dressing boys in skirted garments continued into the early 20th century. This convention declined after the turn of the 20th century.
Another major convention was dressing boys in shortened length pants of various styles. This was largely a 20th century convention because the convention of shortened-length pants only became common in the late 19th century. Like breeching, obtaining one's first long pants became for many years a major milestone in a boy's life.
Here we can look at the clothing worn by American boys at specific ages. This of course changed substantially over time with changing fashion trends and child raising conventions. Looking at the popular styles at each age over time, however, provides interesting insights on fashion trends and conventions. Families varied on the appropriate age conventions for their children. This was especially true in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Family variations have become less pronounced by the mid-20th century because of the growing importane of the mass media and increasing influence of children in the family. An important facror here was the concept of teenager which was a term not even used in the 19th century.
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