* clothing for events in boys' lives

Boys' Costumes for Important Events

There are several major events in a boys life. Often mom makes sure that her son is smartly dressed up for these events. We have thought of several such events. Several have varied overtime, including some which have disappeared. Perhaps you can suggest additional events that may involve destince dress or with which dressing up is associated that HBC should chronicle.

Figure 1.--This was the day this boy was breeched.

These pages will include details about these events and experiences along with images and a descriptions of the dress styles associated with these big events in a boy's life. Perhaps you may recall some of these experiences yourself. If so, be sure to provide HBC somevof your own reminiscences.


One of the least studied events of boyhood by social historians is breeching. This event for centuries was a major event in a boy's life until the 1920s. Boys until that time wore dresses. For several centuries European and American boys wore dresses just like their sisters, with perhaps only little clues such as sashes to distinguish them. By the late 19th century, some dresses were made specifically for boys, usually plainer than the styles for girls. Boys did not, however, always get these boy dresses. Many dresses were designated as "children's styles" for both boys and girls. Some mothers did not like these plainer styles and purchased the more elaborate girls' styles for their sons. Other boys inherited the hand-me-downs of their older sisters.

First Haircut

A boy's first hair cut is still a major event in a child's life. It now generally takes place when a boy is quite young, although the precise age varied from family to family. It used to be even more important, often comparable to beeching. Somemothers believed in breeching a boy before his curls were cut. Others believe that his curls should be cut first.


Bithdays used to be small events held in one's home and involved traditional games like pin the tail pn the donkey. Practices vary from country to country, although the biryday cake is an institution througout Europe and America. The bithday event in America has become an extranvaganza with hired clowns and ponies and often held in a McDonalds, Chuki-Cheese, or other kid-friendly restaurant.

First Communion

Communion in the Christian is an ecclesiastical term signifying the relationship to each other, involving mutual cliaims and duties, in which those persons stand who are united by unifomity of belief into one religious body or belief. The most important symbol of the realization of communion is the act of partaking of the Lord's Supper, a rite itself known as Communion. For all Christian churches, communion or the Eucraist is at the center of religious belief. There is a great deal of common thought on communion. Communion viewed as remembering what Jesus did for us. The following is a Christian explanation of communion. The age at which a child takes first communion has varied from country to country and over time.

Dancing School

American boys were dragged along to dancing schools usually by the time they were 11 or 12 years of age, sometime earlier. Usually the girls were quite excited by the idea--but many boys viewed it very differently. Children used to dance up for the occasion. This at the prospect of spending a perfectly good afternoon with girls rather than playing ball was not an appealing prospect for most pre-teen boys. I think this is not as common as it once was, perhaps because of the style of modern dancing.


Mothers insisted that there sons put on their best suits for any recitals or performances. Dress standards in recent years have become more casual, but mothers usually insist on something beyond "t" shorts and jeans. The clothing standards at recitals and performances have varied over time with changing fashions.

School Events

A boy's first day at school is another major event innhis life. For some it is the hardest day in his life and often his parents--especially mom. It is probably not as important as it used to be as many children now are taking care of in pre-school daycare, often from an early age. Even so that doesn't always make the event easier for some and tears may still be shed. Before World War II (1939-45), school was more commonly the first important event away from home. It could be a heartwrenching experience full of big and small worries for the boy and for his parents. Children were and still are uneasy about starting a new routine, getting along with other kids, and being away from mommy and daddy. While that firt day at school was the major event. Each year as the boy moves from grade or form is also important, especially the transition from primary to secondary school. In England and other countries, boys often changed from short pants to long pants when they moved, or soon after they moved, from junior to senior school.

First Camp

The first summer camp is a mostly American experience. It generally takes place about 2-3 years after a boy begins school, most commonly at about 8 years of age. This varies widely from family to family as does the period at camp. Many boys are home sick that forst year. Many northeastern camps used to have uniforms of "t" shirts and short pants, although that is less common today.

Scout Awards and Jamborees

Cubs and Scouts generally wear their best uniform with full kit of award ceremonies. These awards were important milestones, much like advancing in school grades or forms. An important event for a Scout was also attending his forst Jamboree. Cubs do not zattend Jamborees, but may visit during the day. Even in america where Scouts until the 1960s did not normally wear short panys, the Jamboree uniform was always short pants.

First Long Pants

A boy's first pair of long pants used to symbolized the end of boyhood. Events after a boy goy his long pants were graduation. the first shave, and college--all events of young adults. This used to occur at 12-16 years of age, depending on the country and time period. This has changed in our modern era as boys no longer wear short pants until a certaion age, but more commonly wear them as war weather seasonal clothes.


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Created: December 15, 1998
Spell checked: November 20, 1998
Last updated: May 27, 2000