Family Outfits: Dresses

Figure 1.--These two siblings (probably brothers), one looks to be about 2 the other 4, wear an identical lace collar dress. The photograph probably dates to the 1890s. Their short hair is a little unusual for such an early age.

Some mothers dressed their children, including brothers and sisters, in dresses. Some chose identical styles. Others chose similar styles while still others chose entirely different styles. Mothers had the additional decession as to how to style their children hair. Here some styled the hair differently. Others chose coordinated styles or even identical styles.

The Dresses

Many mothers liked to dress their children in identical or coordiated outfits. In the 19th Century this mean having the children wear identical dresses, at least when the boys were younger. The age for boys wearing dresses, however, varied widely from family to family. Most boys were breeched at about 5 years of age. Some boys, however, were breeched earalier and others kept in dresses longer. Some boys still wore dresses at 10 years or even on rare occasions older. Thus there were some families that had several children wearing identical or similar dresses.

The Hair Styles

The hair styles of the children dressed in identical or similar dresses varied widely. Some mothers liked the look of dresses, but were willing to cut the child's hair at an early age. In other instances, mothers were insisted in having the children, including the boys grow long hair. I do not think there were accepted practices here, it was simply left up to the individual preferences of each mother. There were destinct national preferences. American mothers were particularly fond of curling the long hair into ringlets. French mothers were not particularly fond of ringlets, but liked to add hair bows.


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Created: November 3, 1998
Last updated: 2:20 AM 11/1/2004