Boys Historical Clothing Essays: Parents

Figure 1.--.

Children in the 19th and early 20th century were more strictly diciplined and had much less say about their clothes and other matters affecting their lives. Children were t be seen and not heard. Mothers had more latitud on how to dress their children and fathers had much more authority.

The Family

The family has functioned differently over the years. I have not yet drafted the essay, but have begun collecting information on the dynamics of the family and child raising practices over the years.


From the perspective of the late 20th century, it strikes us as unusual that many mothers from the 1870s through the early 1900s dressed their boys in what we would now consider to be a girlish fashion. And though we may see it as a curious aberration today, dressing young boys and girls alike was common practice among the middle and upper-middle classes in the late 19th century. Delving further into some of the issues discussed above, a HBC contributor has provided a thought-provoking essay on "Mothers and Boys' Clothing in the Late 19th Century: A Psychological Perspective". The author is a clinical psychologist.


Fathers usually let their ives deal with the children when they were young, but even here fathers varied on how they exercized their authority. As a boy got older, his father would play an increasingly important role in his upbringing, including the selection of clothes. I have not yet drafted the essay on fathers, but have begun to collect some information.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: March 17, 1999
Last updated: February 3, 2000