United States Boys' Clothes: Skirted Garments--Usage

boy kilt suit
Figure 1.--This print from a glass plate negative was probably taken in the 1890s. Its shows an unidentified famaily went to the seaside for an outing. Notice the boy fishing is wearing a kilt suit.

One question we have about skirted garments is did the boys wear them for all the varied activities in which younger boys pursued. We wonder if breeching took place all at once or if it was a gradual process. We note in the movie "Life with Father" that Harlan wore knee pants for every day, but had a dress up kilt suit. We are not sure if this was historically accurate. Did mothers dress boys in knee pants for family outings or play and reserve kilt suits for special occassions? Or did they wear kilt suits and dresses for all activities. Of course there may be no simple answer to this question. Families may well have had varied approaches. Here the photographic record is not very helpful. This is because in the 19th century when kilt suits were worn, there was very limited amateir photography producing snap shots that shed light on every day clothing. Most of the photographs of boys in kilt suits are 19th century studio portraits. After the turn of the 20th century when we begin to see large numbers of family snapshots, kilts suits very rapidly went out of style. We have not yet been able to find any written information addressing this issue.


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Created: 10:33 PM 12/29/2008
Last updated: 10:33 PM 12/29/2008