Europeans beginning in the 16th century dressed little children, both boys and girls in the same styles of ankle-length dresses, often referred to as petticoats. For most of this time, no special clothing existed for children, boys or girls. Boys once "breeched", were simplly dressed in smaller versions of the knee breeches and other clothes worn by their fathers. Specialized clothing for children did not appear until the late 18th centuty-- and a first only for boys. Even so, many mothers continued to dress small boys in dresses for more than a century.
I have yet no information on boy dress styles in the 1600s. They apparently were just small sized versions of their mothers' dresses. Both boys and girls wore the same-styled dresses. It is clear that the fashion of dressing small boys in dresses was the prevalent fashionthroughout the 17th century.
Relatively little written material exists on the styles of the dresses worn by children. Much of what we know has been deduced from contemporary portraits and other paintings. It is amazing to some modern observers
Leading stings were comonly employed on children's dresses from the
16th to 18th Century. They were precisely what they sounded like. The
strips of fabric matching or coordinated with the dress fabric that were sewn on to the dress
at the shoulders. The other end fell freely down the back of the dress.
Some dresses did not have leading strings sewn on directly, but they
would be pinned on if the mother so desired. The "strings" were considered
practical for assisting younger chilkdren and contolling rambuncious
children for whom they were used rather as a lease.
Practices and conventions varied for boys and girls.
We know relatively little about what the boys of the era thought about wearing dresses. As destinctive styles for children did not exist for much of the period and the children involved were very young, it is likely that the fashion was of less concern to the boys than was the case for more modern generations. In addition, children of the era generally defered to their parents on such matters.
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