** historical girls' clothing: garment gender connotations bows

Girls' Bows

girls bows
Figure 1.--Here we se an American girl wearing a small collar with her dress. The girl is unidentified, but we know the CDV portrait was taken in 1865. Click on the image to see the full portrait with her brother.

We see a lot of bows in the photographic record. Both boys and girls wore bow, especially in the late-19th-and early 20th centuries. There were, however, substantial differences in how boys and girls wore bows. Of course the most statling use of bows were the huge collar bows boys wore with Fauntleroy suits and other outfits. This was less common for girls. Even wih fancy dresses, we do not see the huge bows that youngr boys wore. Often girls had only small bows (figure 1). Where girls wore elaborate and often large bows was in their hair. Girls wore huge hair bows which were much less common for boys, although we do see a few younger boys with hair bows. Some had more than one. A good example is Juanita Hogan in her graduation portrait in 1907. Around the turn of the 20th century and during the 1900s and 10s we see countless girls of all ages with huge hair bows. Most were white, but we see colored bows as well. There were mzny other gender difference and these varied over time. Generally usage was inverse. A factor here is that boys generally did not like dressng like girls. Thus when we see boys with huge cillar bows, we do not see girls with collar bows. Girls did wwear collar bows, but they were less common and generally smaller. We see gie=rls wearing collar bows, shoulder bows, hair bows, shoe bows and other bows. Overall the bow is more associated with girls, but the huge bows worn by boys makes this general convention less pparent than it normally would be. We note variations in girls' use of bows affected by a range of factors, including age, chronology. country, social class, and other factors.


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Created: 6:03 PM 9/14/2008
Last updated: 3:40 AM 5/25/2015