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French Boys Clothes: Familiy Chronology

Figure 1.--This family scene looks to be from the late 1940s or early 50s. Note the formality of the clothing, especially the father's suit and the little girl's dress.

French families have of course changed significantly over time. The most significant change has surely been the size of the family with moderm families much smaller than was the case in the past. The roles of the father and mother hav also changed. The dominate family patriarch is now more likely to share family decissions with the mother. He is also much more involved in raising the children, especially younger children, than in the past. The family portraits sometimes subtely reflect these changes, but they show very clearly how the fashion styles of the entire family changed over time. One major change has been the increasing informality of family dress, not only the children but parents as well.

The 19th Century

Family images are wondefful ways of assessing fashion trends because they show prople of different ages and genders. This is particulasrly important because France was such an important country in setting fashion trends during the 19th century. This was particiularly true of women's fashions, but the French also influenced children's fashions. We have only a few images of French families in the 19th century and can not yet make any real assessment. Our French 19th century archive is still very limited, but we have a few family images from the second half of the 19th century. We are gradually expanding our archive of 19th century French imasges, but it will be some time before we have an adedquate family section. This section provides a useful way of comparing French fashion to those in different countries chronologically.

The 20th Century

We have a number of French family images during the 20th century. Our 20th century archive is much larger than our 19th century archive. Not only do we have more images, but now we have family snapshots rather than just studio portraits. The snapshots tell us not only about fashion, but also a lot of information about family life. World War I had profound impacys on family life, especially the role of weomen in France. There are not enough images to draw any conclusions, but they provide some interesting glimpses into the French family and developing fashion trends over time. We notice a lot of boys wearing sailor suits in the early 20th century. The convention of younger boys wearing declined in popularity, especially after World War I. A new fashion appeared for younger boys, rompers. We see knee pants and bloomer knickers in the early-20th century. Short pants became more common after World War I. Knickers were never as common in France as in merics, but some older boys wore them.

The 21st Century


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Last updated: 4:46 PM 3/9/2012