Skirted garments or often seen as primarily female garments. Many American boys, however, have worn skirted garments. American boys over time have worn several different skirted garments. The most important have been dresses, skirts, kilts, and tunics. Dresses were the principal skirted garmenr for many years. Skirts and kilts were popular in the 19th century. Tunics were widely worn in the early 20th century. There have been some other skirted garments of less importance. Pinafores have been worn by younger boys. Smocks were not as common in America as Europe. The popularity and age conventions for these different have varied substantially over time. Two of these skirted garments, kilts and tunics, are male garments. We have seen some girl's garments referred to as kilts, but almost alwaus these are skirts, often pleated plaid skirts rather than proper kilts. While theseare the principal skirted garments, it is not always possible to olace the actual garments that boys wore neatly into one of these categories.
As in Europe, it was very common for American boys to wear dresses when young, although
conventios varied greatly from family to family. Much of the HBC overall discussion of dresses and other skirted garments has dealt primarily with America. This is due primarily on HBC's greater access to information and images about America. Thus much of our information on American dresses worn by boys is in the overall dress section. One important development in America was the appearance of boy-styled dresses in the late 19th century, especially by the 1880s. HBC assumes that similar developments occurred in European countries, but can not conform this at this time. We have only begun to archive some specifically American information here.
We have less information about skirts than other skirted garments. This is in part because the great bulk of the images we have acquired show boys either wearing dresses are kilt-skirts with jackets as part of a suit. We have found, however, a number of portraits showing bows wearing skirts. Many of these images show boys wearing skirts done in a plaid or a plaid-like pattern. We think many of these portraits were taken during the summer and that the boys were just not wearing the matching jacket with the kilt-suit. We note many images of boys wearing blouses with kneepants during this period for similar reasons. We note some images, however, with boys wearing skirts that do not seem to be part of a suit. How common this convention was we are not sure. Also we have not noted boys in Europe wearing skirts, but this may be a reflection of our larger archive of American images.
Tunic suits seem to have been particularly popular in America. Much of the information in the tunic section is about tunics in America. We know that they were common in the early
ans mid-19th century. Quite a number of naive artists painted boy wearing tunics of various descriptions. They seem less common in the late 19th century, but we see them being very commonly worn at the turn of the 20th century. They were very widely worn in America at this time. Three styles were generally worn, but there were other styles as well. The sailor style was the most popular, but the Russian blouse and Buster Brown styles were also popular. These tunic were mostly worn with above-the-knee knickers and short pants. A related style, the Russian blouse suit was occasionally worn with long pants--mostly in the long pants variant. Very commonly the tunics were white or some other solid color. We are not sure about the colors at this time. We also see tunics made in patterns, but they were not nearlu as common. Some information is available on individual
A very popular outfit for younger boys in the late-19th century was the kilt suit. We have created a section on kilt suits and much of the information is about America where the style was most popular. We have a more limited section on American kilt suits. The kilts associated with kilt suits were almost always worn as suits. Ww note, however, a few images of boys wearing just the kilt skirts without the jacket and just a blouse. Actual Highland kilt outfits were less common, although boys from wealthy families like Franklin Roosevelt might wear them. While Highland outfits were not very common, they were worn. We even note one Highhland outfit that one mother seems to have brought home from London, only with kneepants rather than a kilt.
We notice boys in the 1880s and 90s wearing middklt blouses with skirts. These were not one-piece sailor-styled dresses but two-piece outfits. We are not entirely sure how to classify these outfits. They might be considered a blouse and skirt outfit. They might also be consirted a kilt suit outfit. They were done in various colors. We note one unidentified boy wearing a grey sailor bliuse and kult-skirt outfit in 1892.
I have been able to acquire relatively little information on smocks in America. Available images suggest that some American boys were dressed in smocks during the late 19th Century. A mother might dress her entire family, boys and girls in identical smocks. The back buttoning styles were generally chosen. This appears most common in wealthy families. After World War I it became increasingly less common for boys to wear smocks. They were not popular with American boys. The few American boys who still wore smocks were was mostly boys being raised in wealthy families, but even this had mostly disappeared in the 1940s.
We have no personal accounts about American boys wearing pinafores yet. Available photographic images show that some boys did wear them in the late 19th century. I'm less sure about the early 19th century. We do not believe it was very common after the tirn of the 20th century. We believe that this would primarily be boys from wealthy northeastern families. Presumably this would have been a garment worn at home to prevent their clothes from getting soiled. Most children were dressed up for photographic portraits. As a result ythe proportion of boys photographed in pinafores is not a good indicator of the number that avtually wore pinafores. It is not entirely clear to us why a mother would have had her son photographed in a pinafore rather than his best clothes. We note boys wearing pinafores both before and after breeching, but believe it was more common before breeching.
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