Boys' Skirted Garments


Figure 1.--Boys in the 19th and even in the early 20th century wore a range of skirted garments. Our information on the early 19th century is limited, but the development of photography means that beginning in the mid-19th century we have a great deal of information. Here we see a girl who looks to be about 11-12 years old with her little brother who looks to be about 3 years old. The children are unidentified. Nor do we know when this portrait was taken, but we suspect arounf 1890. We do know thsat it was taken in the Spingfield, Vermont. The boy looks to be wearing a kilt suit.

Younger boys for several centuries wore dresses until being breeched. The types of skirted garments becamr more varied in the 19th century. We note boys in the 19th and even in the early 20th century wearingh a range of skirted garments. Our information on the early 19th century is limited, but the development of photography means that beginning in the mid-19th century we have a great deal of information. We have collected information on the various skirted garments commonly worn by boys. Dresses are of course commonly associated with girls, but until the 20th century were commonly worn by younger boys. The kilt was a boy's garment as were tunics, although there were differences among countries. Smocks were worn by both boys and girls. We have developed information on these different garments as well as trends with skirted garments generally in different countries.

Chronology

Younger boys for several centuries wore dresses until being breeched. We see this at the time when modern trousers began to develop in the 16th century. The only skirted garments we note at first are dresses. Our information is largely based on the affluent classes as these are the people most likely to have portraits painted and leave written records. The types of skirted garments becamr more varied in the 19th century. We note boys in the 19th and even in the early 20th century wearingh a range of skirted garments. Our information on the early 19th century is limited, but the development of photography means that beginning in the mid-19th century we have a great deal of information.

Types of Skirted Garments

We have collected information on the various skirted garments commonly worn by boys. Dresses are of course commonly associated with girls, but until the 20th century were commonly worn by younger boys. Dresses are, however, only one of the skirted garments that boys have worn over time. The kilt was a boy's garment as were tunics, although there were differences among countries. Smocks were worn by both boys and girls. Pinafores are mostly associated with girls, but boys did wear them. Tunics were a skirted garment that boys commonly wore. We also notice boys wearing skirts which can be difficult to desriminate with the kilt-skirts worn with kilt suits.

Features

We notice a range of stylistic features on both the bodice and skirt of a dress. A popular feature on the bodice of dresses and other sjkirted garments is smocking. A popular feature on the skirt is pleating. We do not yetb have much information on pleating. There are differentb kinds of plearing. Box pleating was a popular style. We cnote pleats done in different withs. We have some country pleating pages, including: America, England, and Scotland.

Country Trends

Many of the trends associated with skirted garments were similar throughout Europe and North America. Much of our information is American because we have the greatest access to American sources and photographs. We have, however, begun to develop information on several other countries as well. We do note some variation among countries. While the same basic garments were worn throughout Europe and North America. The convention of dressing boys in skirted dresses varies in prevalence in different countries. The different skirted garments varied in popularity among countries as well as sytling variations. There were also differences in the tine line. We are just beginning to assess these country variations. We now have pages assessing national trends on America, England, France, Germany, Italy and other countries.

Breeching

One of the most important events in a boys life was his breeching. Donning trousers, or breeches in the 18th Century, signaled to the world that a boy was growing up. Dressing like his father has always been important to a boy. But it is an event that has been poorly chronicled by the social historian. In part this is because most social historians are women and they often fail to recognize the importance of the event to a boy. There are many unanswered questions about breeching. One of the most interesting is if a boy was only bought a party suit with knee pants and continued to wear dresses for a while at home when not dressing for special occasions. Or was a complete new wardrobe purchased for him. Perhaps different families did it differently. Perhaps practices varied by country or social class. Little appears to have been written ob the subject.

Age Trends

Age trends for skirted garments hve varied over time and from country to country. Most young childten wore dtesses in the 19th century. This did not begin to chnge until very late in the century. We note quite a number of younger boys being brrched at fairly young ages in the 1890s. We still note wquite a few younger boys wearing dresses in the early-20th century. This fadhion rapidly went out of style after World War I in the 2920s. And we notice variations from country to country. We know a great deal about the United States, in part because photography became so common there. Here the rapid indistrialization of the country vastly increased the purchjasing of ordinary people. We know about many other countries. There were also different age ranges for various different kinds of skirted garments. We are develop age convention pages for each of the dofferent garments. Another factor tp be considered in social class. This is a more difficult factor to conider because lower income fmilies were less likely to splurge on a portrait. This was especially the case in Europe where family incomes were lower than in ASmerica, especially for working-class families. Social class is a factor because middle-class mothers had both the time and money to closely supervise their children, something that working -class mothers often did not have.







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Created: April 21, 2001
Last updated: 6:34 AM 6/25/2012