*** vintage boys' clothing chronology

Vintage Clothing: Chronology

Figure 1.--Most of the vintage clothes we have archived on HBC come from the late 19th and early 20th century. We have been able to find items from these earlier historical periods. This looks to be a boy's suit jacket from the 18th century, although we can not confirm that. It was probanly worn with knee breeches.

Textiles are perhishable materials. Thus the further back in history one goes the less likely it is to find clothing items. Most clothing does not survive very long. This is particukarly the case of children's clothes which are subjected to hard wear. Of course before the 19th century vthere was no dedicated chidren's clothing. But clothing have been primarily made of organic materials which unless carefully preserved deteriorate over time. There are museum collections of clothing from historical times. Unfortunately these mostly involve adult clothing. We have found some interiesng historical itemds. Of course these are particularly useful because photiograopjy only dates to 1839. Before that, image of histoprical fashions are much more limited, basically depndent on paintings and drawings which have certin drawbacks. So vintage clotyhing is an impotant addition to the limited imgery availble on historical periods. Most of the vintage clothes we have archived on HBC come from the late 19th and early 20th century. We have been able to find items from these earlier historical periods. We would be very interested in any such items HBC readers have find. Such items would be a valuable addition to HBC. We also plan to index existing items chronologically. This process is somewhat complicated because most vintage items we have found are not dated. We can only estimate the dates that items were made and worn. We have not yet, however, begun the indexing process. This is an undertaking we eventually plan to do. It will provide a iseful way of viewing the many vintage items indexed on HBC. We understand tht many readers are interested in specific chronological periods. This way readers can better follow fashion shifts chronolgically. It will also allow us to provide links from the chronological pages.

Ancient Era

Clothing is made from perishable, biodegradable materials and thus does not last the test of time. we do not see much vintage clothing further back from the 17th century and even that us rare. Footwear is a bit of an exception because leather is more resistant to deterioration than textiles, although even leather deteriorates over time. As a result, of their fragile nature, vintage ancient garments are almost non existent. Almost but there are some very rare exceptions. And this is almost entirely due to special circumstances, meaning discovery in extraordinary environmental conditions that preserved them. This is primarily the result of escalation of tombs, but specifically tombs in desert areas. Here Egypt is a primary source of these fines, but not the only one. There are also finds in European bogs and glaciers. These are all very rare, but they have gifted our modern age with a very small number of precious ancient garments, a few in an almost pristine state of preservation.

Medieval Era

The 17th Century

We note some 17th century garments. There were no substantial children's fashions during the century. CVhildren wore scaled down versions of therir parent's garments. There were significant social class differences at the time. Aristocratic fashions could be very elaborate and use luxurious materials. The famous Blue Boy painting is based on such styles. The caviliers fighting for the King wore fancy clothing influenced by the French court. These fashions were captured by Anthony Van Dyck and other artists. Gainsboro's Blue Boy was painted in the 18th century but meant to replicate the Cavalier fashions of the 17th century. The Parlimentarians who fought the English Civil War (1642-51) believed in very plain, restrained fashions in muted colors. These were the Puritans who launched the Civil War. The Hereford Museum provides a display of English Puritan Civil War fashions for the whole family. The father dresses in black. The rest of the family wears muted fashions. The boy's outfit is stylistically the same as his father's suit, only the color is different. We are not sure this color difference between father and son shown here was a real 17th century convention. Wide white collars were popular. Pants after the early-17th century evolved from the short, balooned out Elizabethan knee breeches cut well above the knee. In the 17th century the length fell to belowe the knee as shown here here, creating pants or trousers--the basic modern style for men and boys. The women here had open necklines. These styles became common as the victory of the Parlimentarians in the English Civil War. This led to the Commonwealth (1649-60). Then came the Restoration in which Cavalier fashioins cane back intio style (1660).

The 18th Century

Textiles are perhishable materials. Thus the further back in history one goes the less likely it is to find clothing items. We have been able to find very few items from the 18th century. Items from the 18th century are readily available in museum collections, but relatively few are in private collections. The jacket here looks to be a boy's suit jacket from the 18th century, although we can not confirm that. Notice the embroidered detailing. It was probanly worn with knee breeches. We have no information about the origins of the garment. It is all wool child's jacket. It was dark green with black trim. (The imkage looks blue with red trim.) Shoulder to shoulder it was 10 inches. The bust is 28 inches and the waist is 26 inches. The length is 21 inches. Tailored and lined with silk.

The 19th Century

The 19th century can be divided into two periods. The eraly 19th century is the Regency Era The mid and later 18th century is the Victorian Era. The period which includes the latter part of George III's reign and the reigns of his sons George IV and William IV, is sometimes regarded as the Regency era (1795-1837). The actual Regency ended with the death of George II (1820), but the longer periood until the the advent of Queen Victoria is more generally seenm as the Regency. It was marked by by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics, and culture. This includes Kate Greenaway fashions. And the end of the Regeny Era almost precisely marks the advent of photography. The Regencvy Era is much of the Early Republic/Ante-bellum Era in America and powerfully influenced American fashion. Thus vintage clothing from the Regency is particularly valuable as photography which escalated our knowledge of fashion still did not exist. The Victorian period begins with the advent of Queen Victoria (1837). Victorian fashions were very important, espcially because the Victorians invented the mass production of clothing, significnyky reducung costs for the general public. We still do not have a lot of vintage items from the mid-19th century. Most of the vintageimages we have archived on HBC come from the late 19th century. While we have few items from the early and mid 19th century, we have been able to archive quite a few items from the late-19th century. The time ffactor is one reason. Of course Regency and Victorian are British era, but Brotin had as poewerful inffluence on America fashions during the 19th century. Most of our vintage clothing items are American. We think the growing American population and wealth mean more items were being saved. Generally speaking, affluent families were more likely ro put away and treasure childhood clothing. Another factor is the mass production of ready-made clothing. Again this meant there were larger quantities of clothing being made, meaning a few items were more likely to survive.

The 20th Century

HBC has archived quite a substantial number of vintage clothing items from the 29th century, most the early 20yth cedntury.


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Created: 5:06 PM 2/9/2006
Last updated: 4:16 PM 4/30/2024