First Communion Garments


Figure 1.--First Communion suits can be quite simple, at least for the boys. This looks to be an English boy taking his First Communion about 1980.

First Communion is a major milestone in the lives of Catholic children all over the world. For girls the purchase of an elaborate white dress, looking much like a junior wedding dress, was very common and in many cases still a part of the First Communion event. For many boys the occasion sometimes required a new suit--usually a dark suit that could be worn for best after the First Communion ceremony. White suits were also purchased for boys, becoming popular in the 1920s. Suit styles and colors varied greatly from country to country. Boys in some European countries might wear sailor suits or cassocks. However more common was the purchase of a new suit that could be worn for other special events. In recent years the trend in many countries had been away from suits to simplier outfits--especially for the boys.

Girls

For girls the purchase of an elaborate white dress, looking much like a junior wedding dress, was very common. These dresses could be quite elaborate. Interestingly this fashion is quite constant among different countries and over time. In many cases these elaborate dresses continue to be part of the First Communion event. Often the grls could have stylistic differences in their dresses. These dresses could be quite expensive--especially for working class families. I am not sure when it became common for girls to dress up in minature wedding dresses. It appears to ve well established tradition by the 1910s. How much earlier I am not yet sure.

Boys

For many boys the occasion sometimes required a new suit--usually a dark suit that could be worn for best after the First Communion ceremony. White suits were also purchased for boys, becoming popular in the 1920s. Suit styles and colors varied greatly from country to country. Boys in some European countries might wear sailor suits or cassocks. However more common was the purchase of a new suit that could be worn for other special events. In recent years the trend in many countries had been away from suits to simplier outfits--especially for the boys. First Communion especially for boys attending Catholic schools was often done as a class event. The school woul commonly set guidelines for the boys. They might also wear part of their school uniform which would mean that an expensive outlay was not required.








Christopher Wagner







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Created: March 18, 2001
Last edited: October 17, 2002