French boys are not noted for wearing kilts. French fashion magazines, however, show boys wearing kilts in the 1860s. They appear in full Higland refgalia, indestinguishable from the outfits being worn in Scotland. Queen Victoria introduced the style as boys wear when she began dressing her eldest boy, Bertie, in a kilt in the mid-1840s. We are not sure when the style first appeared in France. The British royal visit, including Bertie wearing a Highland kilt, certainly played an important role in popularizing the kilt for boys. It appeaars to have been fashionable by the 1860s through the mid-1880s, but little seen by the late-1890s. Some outfits were worn by boys loosly styled on the Scottish kilt. Our information, however, is still very limited.
The kilt is not unknown in France. Some Bretons, within a inter-Celtic framework, wear a kilt. The kilt is a symol of Britanty Celtic heritage. There are approximately 3,000 different tartans worn today. Most are family tartans, but there are also corporate, national, and événementiel. Family tartans are worn with the authorization of the head of clan (even Stewart). In addition, black and white are tartans are worn for mourning. Some Bretons thought that they could wear the Menzies tartan, but this is unfounded. The
Menzies clan, like many, is of Norman origin. Its tartan is white and rouge as well as a black and white tartan for the funeral ceremonies. The Breton national tartan can be worn by individuals or pipe bands. The tartan is composed of the colors which are expresibe to Bretons: black and white, green for [argoat?] and blue for love. Symbolically, lrmor girdles [argoat?] and the nine Bretons countries are represented by the small white squares.
The romantic revival of Scotland through poetry and novels was also felt accross the channel in France. After Queen Victoria popularized the kilt as appropriate boys' wear in the 1840s, fashionable French mothers sometimes dressed their boys in kilts. The British royal visit in 1855 , including Bertie wearing a Highland kilt, certainly played an important role in popularizing the kilt for boys. Bertor wore a black tam with eagle freather and streamers, black velvet jacket, kilt, and Argyle kneesocks.
French boys are not noted for wearing kilts. French fashion magazines, however, show boys wearing kilts in the 1860s. We believe that this was primarily boys from affluent families with fashionable mothers. We do not think that they were widey worn by French boys. While not a widely popular style, but some French boys did wear kilts. French boys wore both Scottish (tartan) styled dresses and complete Highland kilt outfits.
French boys just out of dresses might wear a kilt. This was also worn by girls, but not as commonly. The kilt was quite popular in the late 19th century. One of the few styles to exceed it in popularity for small boys was the sailor suit which girls also wore.
Queen Victoria introduced the style in England as boys wear when she began dressing her eldest boy, Bertie, in a kilt in the mid-1840s. The Scottish Highland kilt had become popular in England after Winterhalter painted Queen Victoria's children in 1849. Queen Victoria's sons in 1851 wore kilts at the opening of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851. The Queen's eldest son Bertie wore kilts to France in 1855 on an official visit. These events helped to popularize the kilt as a boys' garment in France, a leat among affluent families. There may have also been a romantic attachment to Scotland. Mary Queen of Scotts, for example lived many years in France and fior a time was expected to be Queen of France. Her descendents, the Steuarts spent years of exile there as did Bonnie Prince Charlie. [Gagon, p.147.]
French boys primarily wore kilts in the mid-19th century. We are not sure when the style first appeared in France. Presumably it would have beern the 1850s. Men may have worn kilts earlier, but as a children's outfit it probably was due to Queen Victoria's inspiration in the 1840s. We are not sure when kilts as boys wear first bergan appearing in France. The Prince of Wales (the future Edward VII) who was about 14 years old accompanied his parents to Paris on a state visit in 1855. He wore a Scottish kilt and caused a sensation. I'm not sure what the young Prince of Wales tought about his kilts, although he commonly wore them as an adult, so unlike the current Prince of Wales, he may have liked them. From that time, kilts and tartan dresses for children or a common fixture in French fashion magazines until after the turn of the century. Parisian fashion magazines depict boys wearing Scottish kilts with full Highland regalia during the 1860s. They still appear in the 1880s, but appaer to be somewhat less popular. Our information, however, is still very limited. French boys in the in the 1890s rarely wore kilts and almost never in the 20th century.
The traditional kilt is of course the Scottish Highland kilt and matching regalia. Many other garments, however, were referred to as kilts or showed clear influences of the kilt style. French boys wore Scottish (tartan) styled dresses. This was particularrly fashionable at mid-century. Primarily this involved using tartan material or various kinds of material thought to approrximate tartan. They are claerly different than Highland kilts as the dresses have bodices and lack the full Higland regalia. We see jacketed dresses done with Scottish styling. There is a complication here in that some dressed were styled like kilt suits. And it is somewhat difficuklt to differentite between the two in photographs. The difference of coirse is that the Scotish style dress was a one-piece garment. A kilt suit is a two-piece outfit. Often this can only be determined by physically examining the garment. French boys wore both Scottish suits and skirts. These were two-piece garments with separate jacket and skirt. This was particularrly fashionable at mid-century in the 1840s and 50s. Primarily this involved using tartan material or various kinds of material thought to approrximate tartan. It was not referred to as a kilt because usually true tartan material was noy used and it was not worn with full Highland regalia like sporans. French fashion magazines in the 1860s show boys wearing kilts as part of full Higland regalia, indestinguishable from the outfits being worn in Scotland. They are even wearing the sporans. Boys wearing both Glengary caps and Balmoral tams are shown. After Queen Victoria popularized the kilt as appropriate boys' wear in the 1840s, fashionable French mothers sometimes dressed their boys in kilts. The outfit might include full Higland regalia such as a sporan, Glengary?? cap(sometimes reffered to as a Scotch cap), shoulder sash, and sometimes even the dirk. Balmoral tam-like caps became more popular later in the century. It was not a widely popular style, but some French boys did wear kilts. This was primarily in the mid-19th century. French boys in the in the late 19th century rarely wore kilts and almost never in the 20th century. French fashion magazines in the 1860s show boys wearing kilts as part of full Higland regalia, indestinguishable from the outfits being worn in Scotland. They are even wearing the sporans. Boys wearing both Glengary caps and Balmoral tams are shown. After Queen Victoria popularized the kilt as appropriate boys' wear in the 1840s, fashionable French mothers sometimes dressed their boys in kilts. The outfit might include full Higland regalia such as a sporan, Glengary cap(sometimes reffered to as a Scotch cap), shoulder sash, and sometimes even the dirk.
We do not yet know if boys wore the kilt suit fashion that was popular in America. We notice some garments described as kilt suits. The French term for kilt suit is "????". They seem quite different than the klit suit outfits worn by American boys. Here we are not sure because the number of available 19th century images to us are very limited. French boys may have worn kiklt suuits like the oines worn by Americam boys, but at present we can not yet confirm this. Hopefully as our site develops we will be able to address this topic more fully. We also notice some outfits that have some similarity to kilt suits, but are styled differently those worn in America and England. We are not sure just how they were described in France at the time. Some look more like dresses or tunuics than the kilt suits worn by American boys.
Kilts were not garments worn by many French boys. We do not see them commonly in the photographic record. We do see boys from wealthy families wearing them like Robert Broglie in a Duran portrait. We also see them illustrated in fashion magazines aimed at upper-income women (figures 1 and 2). This does not necesarily mean wealthy families, but it does mean for the most part families in comfortable circumstances. And the rarity in the historical photograpohic record helps to confirm this. Our French archive is limited, but it is large enough to pick up most major fashion trends.
The hosery worn with kilt garments differed in France than that worn in some other countries. The kilt was one of the few garments that 19th century boys beyond the todler stage wore with socks rather than long stockings. In Britain, kilt garments were commonly worn with kneesocks. In America, Highland kilts were also worn with kneesocks, but the more common kilt suits and sailor kilt-skirts were mostly worn with long stockings. In France, boys also wore Highland kilts kneesocks, but commonly wore other kilt garments, such as the sailor kilt-skirt with socks, either ankle or three-quarter length socks. White socks were the most common, but dark socks were also worn.
HBC's primary source of information on French fashions at this time is drawings from period fashion magazines. So far HBC has acuired few 19th century French photographs. There is of course a wealth of photographic images available in France, but to date there has been few French photographic contributions to HBC.
Gagnon, Louise. "L'apparition des modes enfantines au Québec" (institut québecois de la recherche sur la culture, 1979). Collection Edmond-de-nevers. No 11.
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