Major Topics on Historical Boys Clothing

This section is the heart of HBC. It includes information on boys clothing associated with activities, art work, biographies, chronological eras, clothing styles, countries and mnuch more. These pages are in English. We have, however, transalted the major entries so you can make your selection. After that, however, the pages will be in English. You can, however, use the Altavista translater to see a French text.

Expanded introduction describing the fashion trends for boys over the past 500 years. Historical clothes for boys will seem remarkable to the modern parent and child. Even the most fashion conscious mom will marvel at the elegant brocades, lustrous velvets, silks, taffetas, printed, striped and flowered cottons, and laces from which boys' clothes were once made.


A review of the clothing associated with different activities or outings. Detailed information is available on costumes and uniforms worn for sports, choir, dance, music, and school. Other sections provide information clothes worn at home, games, the nursery, parties, dinners, games, park outings, beach vacations, and much more.


Some of the best information about boys' fashions in the years before photography was paintings. Luckily lucrative commissions encouraged artists to give great attention to portrait painting, including many family scenes


Biographical details about the boyhood clothing of many famous individuals. This section needs much more attention and is just a beginning at this stage. Perhaps you have details on an individual of special interest to contribute to HBC.

Catalogs and Magazines

Store catalogs provide a vast amount of information about styles, materials, ages, colors, and more. Fashion magazines also offer a great deal of information. The information is useful in assessing trends as well as dating old photographs.


Review the evolution of boys' clothing styles over the past five centuries with a special emphasis on the period after 1800 up to modern days. Fashion changes moved glacially in earlier centuries. Specialized children's clothes did not become an accepted convention until the late 18th Century.

Clothing Technology

The information on cloth does not relate specifcally to boys clothing. An understanding of cloth and textiles, however, is important in assessing clothing developments. As a result, some basic information is provided on fibers, cloth, fabrics, dyes, and textiles. Other topics such as cloting technology and fasteners is considered here.

Clothing Styles

A review of major clothing styles and boyhood memories. Boys have been dressed in enumerable different styles over the past 500 years. For most of that period boys simply wore smaller versions of their parents clothes. Little boys and girls were generally dressed alike in nearly identical dresses to their mothers until the boys were "breeched". Specialized boys' clothes did not begin to appear until the late 18th Century, but by the 19th Century, boys were wearing many varied styles.

Figure 2.--Small boys through the 1960s commonly dressed up in blazers or sport jackets with short pants and kneesocks.

Country Pages

A review of clothing styles and trends commonly worn in different countries. There are over 20 individual country pages currently available, but I hope to add additional countries as HBC develops. Some quite detailed information is available on some countries, but only minimal information on other countries, even important countries like Italy. Please let me know if you have any information on additional countries.


There are several important events in the lives of boys. Many of these events are associate with distinctive costumes or dress styles.

Hair Styles

Hair styles are not clothing per se, but they are an important element of fashion. Many garments and eras are associated with specific hair styles. An understanding of hair styles is necessary to follow the historical evolution of clothes and fashions.

Institutional Wear

The institutions which have cared for children include both schools and charity institutions. There are many different types of schools with a wide variety of uniforms and dress codes. Charity institutions including work houses and orphages have also often employed distinctive clothing styles.

Literary Characters

Costumes of major boyhood literary characters. Most of the more famous boy characters appear to be English or American. Hopefully or visitors from other country can provide information on boyhood literary characters for this section. Also included here is information on the illustrators who have worked on these books or produced commercial illustrations of the characters. This is another section we have just begun to work on.


HBC has wanted to begin a section on patterns for some time. Very little information is available at this time. HBC believes that patterns first appeared in magazines during the late 19th century. I'm not sure just when companies like Buternick began marketing them. Patterns for boys' clothes were never as common as for girls and women.


Information on the photography and publishing providing background on the dissemination of fashion information. A wealth of invaluable information is available from fashion magazines which in the 19th century not only provide details on fashion trends, but invaluable drawings. Commercial photography appeared in the late 1830s and offered exact images of a wider and wider social cross section.

Presidential Pages

A new U.S. presidential site is under construction. It includes information on presidential boyhood clothes are the fashions worn by presidential children. These pages are not yet ready, but interested contributors can request initial access from the HBC Webmaster to have a look around. The price of admission is a boyhood image or written information about presidential boyhoods.


Historical reinactment is a popular activity for many. While interesting, the costumes the boys wear have to treated with considerable caution as they almost always are made recently and not vintage clothes. Usually they are made by well-meaning mothers who are not very well informed about actual historical styles.

Royalty Pages

A review of clothing styles worn by European royal families. The royals were often well-photographed and provide good indications on stylish children's clothes. Information is now available on the royal families in over 20 countries and many other principalities. The pages are not at this site, but click here for access information. The royalty site is one of the HBC satellite sites. Regular HBC contributors qualify for free access.

Seasonal Wear

Some clothing styles are very seasonal in nature. Short pants are today mostly associated with casual warm weather wear. Likewise heavy coats and sweaters are associated with cold winter weather.

Theatrical Productions

Period clothing depicted in movies, television, and plays. The images available in this section have to be treated with considerable caution as many productions have not given any attention to historical accuracy. Other productions, however, have taken considerable care.


Boys since the 19th century have worn various types of uniforms. The idea of wearing uniforms have varied greatly in popularity in different historical periods. Uniforms were very popular with boys at the turn of the 20th century. The idea of wearing a uniform, however, has become much less popular with most boys by the end of the century. Uniforms are most commonly associated with schools and youth groups, many of which have destinctive uniforms. Boys have also worn military uniforms.

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Christopher Wagner

Created: January 31, 2001
Last update: January 31, 2001