American Boy Dresses: Elements--The Skirt

Figure 1.--This unidentified child looks like a boy to us. We would say abou 5 years old. The portrait is not real clear, but the boy seems to have a huge lace collar covering the shoulders and much of the bodice. We are not sure how to describe the dress, perhaps a jacketed dress, although this is only a look, nit a real jacket. The dress alsonhas a low waistine look. Notice that the velvet arrows connect the jacket and skirt. The skirt seems to be box pleats. It was done at knee level. The cabinet card portrait is not dated, but we would say was taken durung the 1880s. The studio was Brownn's in Burlington, Vermont.

The bottom part of a dress is the skirt. The skirt of course was the key feature of a dress. Other elements were used on various garments. There were two basic approaches to a dress skirt. One ia a kinf of A-fram dress where is no real destinguishing feature between the bodice and skirt, but one continual combined flow of material. There might be a sash of some kind or loose waist decoration, but basically just one piece of material. The other approach is a well-defined waistline giving the appearance of a separate top bodice and bottom skirt. There might even be differences in the decoration, detailing , and even material. There were many different ways the skirt could be done. The skirt could be pleated and there were different approaches to pleating or the skirt could be ruffled a bit. Often the skirt was left plain. There were different ways of doing the hem. The skirt could be decorated in countless ways. There were virtully endless ways that skirts could be decorated. And skirts were done at many different lengths. During the times that boys wore dresses this was generally below the knee, but we see some dresses done at knee length. More common wre very long lngths. Some dresses for younger boys even came to ankle level. We syupspect that this was not fashion, but buying in alarge size that did not fit, but that the boy could grow into. We don't believe, however, that mothers were prone to do the same for their daughters.


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Created: 12:39 AM 11/26/2014
Last updated: 12:39 AM 11/26/2014