Pantalettes: Chronology

Figure 1.--This boys dress is quite short, almost like the tunics an older boy might wear with knickers. The tartan patter, a popular material for a boy as it suggested a kilt. The dress has front buttons and a purely ornmental belt which a girl would not have worn. This Daguerotype was probably taken in the 1850s. Notice his wide brimmed hat laying on the table.

We do not fully understand the chronology of pantalettes at this time. We do not believe they were worn commonly in the early 19th century. Dress styles were quite long and boy wore long-pants skeleton suits, thus there would seem to be very little need for fancy pantalettes. Even so girls wore them. They seem to have become more common in the 1830s or perhaps the 1840s. Here we are not yet sure. Pantalettes are often associated with Victorian prudishness. We see them being worn during the Regency, well before the Victorian era. Both boys and girls wore pantalettes, but they were more common for girls, thus the chronology is largely based on girls wearing pabntalettes.

The 1800s

The 1810s

We notice pantalettes being worn in the 1810s. Often it is difficult to tell because of the long Empire dresses still in style. A good example here is a French family, Lucien Bonaparte in 1815. We notice a Danish family, the Nathanson family in 1818. The girls wear long white dresses with white pantalettes. The boy wears a dark blue tunic with matching plain pantalettes or pants. We note an image of Danish children wearing pantalettes at ankle length in 1818, both boys and girls.

The 1820s

The 1830s

We do not yet have any images of boys wearing pantalettes in the 1830s. Images of girls wearing pantalettes show them wearing them quite long, even covering their ankles. We assume the same was true of younger boys not yet breached wearing dresses. Some boys may have also worn pantalettes with tunics. Here plain pantalettes were essentially the same as the drawers worn with tunics. There may have been differences in the material and styling, here we are not yet sure. Our efforts here are complicated by the fact that several available images are undated.

The 1840s

We notice 11-year old Inglis Synnot in 1848 wearing ruffled pantalettes. Inglis was an English boy from a wealthy family. Note that his pantalettes do not extend to his ankles. We also notice a French boy in 1842 wearing what look more like pants (trousers) than pantalettes with a tunic. We note two New York City children wearingvthem with dresses. We notice two Hungarian boys about 1850, but could be the 1840s.

The 1850s

Children both boys and girls commonly wore pantalettes in the 1850s. We believe they were also common earlier, but as photography was only invenred in 1839 there are far fewer images available to document fashion trends. The American boy here wears what we believe is a plaid tunic which he wears with ruffled pantalettes. A little older boy might have worn the same tunic with less fancy pantalettes (figure 1). Notice that his pantalettes are well above the ankles. Revecca Solomon has left us an image of an idealized Victorian family from the early-1950s. The boy wears a maroon tunic with filly pantalettes. We notice Pen Browning in the 1850s. He wears calf-length white pants which seem ratherlike plain pantalettes sometimes call drawers. We note an American boy, C. Olin Boyden, wearing a plain dress in 1852 wearing very plain pantalettes. We notice the Tennyson boys in the late 1850s andcearly 60s wearing pantalettes with dresses and tunics. We notice an unidentified American boy in 1853. Another example is an unidentified American family in 1855. One of the children seems to be a girl, but we are less sure about the younger child. We notice unidentified American children, we think in the 1850s.

The 1860s

We continue to see pantalettes in the 1860s, but they are much less prominantly displayed , especially by the mid-1860s. While children still wore them, they were normally covered by dresses and pants except for a gilmpse at the hem. We notice Philadelphia brothers in the 1860s. Their pantalettes just peaking out under their dresses. The boys are 1-3 years of age and wear lace-trimmed pantalettes. nother example is wealthy English boy Edwin Crawshay in 1864.

The 1870s

Pantalettes continued to be commonly worn by younger bnoys and girls in the 1870s. As in the 1860s they were no longer prominant. They were mostly covered by the skirt of the dresses and kilts that the children wore. An example is the Muncie boys.

The 1880s

We still note boys wearing pantalettes in the 1880s. They are no longer worn to be seen as part of their clothing. We note one American boy in the 1880s who wears a dress that largely covere his pantalettes. We note portraits of boys with pantaklettes, but only barely vissible at dress or kilt hems. Another example is a Danish boy wearing a dress. His plain pantalettes are barely vissible.

The 1890s


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Created: 3:21 AM 9/11/2004
Last updated: 7:23 AM 12/8/2017