Boys Historical Clothing Essays: Specialized Clothing

Figure 1.--.

Children for centuries simply wore small editions of their parent's clothes. The development of the skeleton suit was the first specialized children's garment. Girls continued to wear small versions of their mother's clothes for years. Specialized garments were, however, for dcades linited to affluent children. It was not until the late 19th century that children of all classes wore specialized children clothing. This fashion which only lasted a few generation may well prove to have been an aberation. Boys from the late 19th to the mid-20th century wore very destibrive clothes. By the mis-20th centurty this changed and both men and boys began increasinly wearing similar and incrreasingly casual styles.

An European HBC reader writes, "In my opinion the 20th century will be remembered as an exception to the rule that children are clothed as litlle grown-ups. Children want to look like grown-ups, typical boy-clothing is seen as childish and parents encourage them in the grown-up direction. Clothing is much more comfortable for everybody these days, there is no need for typical boy-clothing. If this is a pity? I'm not sure; the boys don't care, they feel very well in there grown-up look-a-like clothes and all this makes HBC the more interesting: a clearly defined period to concentrate on."

An American reader comments, "In history, boys tended to dress in small versions of adult clothes. Boys aspired to adult dress. It was only in the late 18th century that childhood began to be thought of as a seperate and unique state. And only in the 19th century that special clothing styles for children began to be designed. This lasted for about a 100 years. Then, after World War II, starting in the United States, the line between child and adult clothing began to be erased. Except that now it tends to be adults who continue to wear the same style clothes that they did when they were young. And the young -adolescents - now define and set fashion. This is, I believe, a unique situation. Kids and adults now dress alike."

These are some initial thoughts on the subject. HBC would be interested in reader comments. HBC intendcto pursue these thoughts in some detail.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: June 8, 2001
Last updated: June 9, 2001