Figure 1.--This boy, Hugh Patrick McGinley, was photographed in a dress during 1923 showing that the fashion of dressing little boys in dresses had not disappeared in the 1920s. Note that to his right is an older sibling in an identical dress.

Hugh Patrick McGinley (United Stares, 1922- )

Hugh Patrick McGinley was born April 5, 1922. He was photographed at about age 1 years wearing a boy dress, a very plain long sleeved dress with a large pointed collar. This shows that while outfitting boys in dresses declined after World War I (1914-18), the custom did continue into the 1920s. After the War, however, is was for the most part only very young boys that continued to wear dresses. Hugh had an older sibling that wore identical dresses.

Reader Question

A HBC reader writes, "Your website about historical boys clothing is phenomenal. Who would have thought that a site with such detailed information would exisit. Ironically, I've been looking for information on boys' dresses. I have a picture of his grandfather in the outfit (figure 1). Sorry for the picture quality. Is there a particular name for what he is wearing? I would love to be able to find either a replica of this kind of outfit or something vintage. Our son is named after his great grandfather and we would like to stage a reproduction of this photo with him in the appropriate clothing. Any ideas?" Kerry Clark

HBC Comment

We are pleased to read you have found our website of interest. Yes HBC has rather grown beyond our expectations, primarily through interesting information submitted by our readers. The garment your grandfather is wearing looks to be like a simple dress that younger boys wee wearing at the turn of the century and the 1900s. Sometimes they were marketed as "boy dresses" because of the simple styling. Earlier in the 19th century young boys and girls wore dresses that were virtually identical. By the late 19th century boys wore dresses but many (not all) wore dresses that were not as fancy as the ones worn by girls. (Boys with older sisters or with especially fashionable moms were an exception here.) As the dress is rather basic, by guess is that any friend who has basic sewing skills could fashion one. There are conmpanies which make replica clothing who service reenactor entusiasts. Theu should also be able to help you. We have begun to collect the names of some of these reenactor supply companies. Hope this helps. Good luck with the restaging.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: August 8, 2002
Last edited: August 8, 2002