*** historical girls' clothing: chronological listings

Girl's Historical Clothing: Chronological Listings

Figure 1.--Great care has to be taken with 19th century images of unknown provinance because boys can often be mistaken for girls. An e-Bay seller, for example, advertised this charming Ohio portarit as "a cute young girl". HBC believes this child was probably a boy who undoubtedly was the apple of his mother's eye. The portrait looks to have been taken about 1890. The boy was probably about 6 years old. Note that he wears a kilt suit and not a dress. Click on the image to see why HBC believes the child is a boy.

We have begun to develop some basic infomation on girl' clothing styles over time. Dress styles in the 18th and 19th century were set in Europe. This did not begin to change until after World War I when America began to become more important in the fashion industry. Here we provide a very brief assessment by century and decade. The assessments only highlight basic trends, thre were of course great variation in any given decade mong different countries, ethnic groups, and socil classes. Here is a chronological listing of images posted in HBC site showing girls' fashions over time. Note that the image we have elected is not always the image at the top of the page. Note that ther are many images we have not listed here. If you come accross an image in HBC showcasing girls' fashions that you think should be linked, please let us know. Great care has to be taken with 19th century images of unknown provinance because younger boys can often be mistaken for girls. Unfortunately the discussion on the page is often not about the girls dresses and other outfits. We would be glad, however to post any fashion comments about the girls outfits that readers may wish to submit. Note that when we wise the term child rather than boy or girl, that signifies that we are unsure about the child's gender.

The 15th Century

1488: Dresses Noble Italian girls

The 16th Century

1516: Schoolwear Swiss school children

1550s: Tudor dress: English Princess Elizabeth

1558-59: Dresses: Italian brother and sister

The 17th Century

About 1600: Tudor dress: English girl

1660s: Stuart revival dress: English brother and sister recreation

The 18th Century

The 1770s

1777: Long yellow dress: English girl

The 1780s

1787: Dresses: Adult and children's dresses American women and children

1788: White dress: Younger artistocratic French girl

1789: Long white dress and colored ribbons: English girl

1789: Two different dresses: French girls

The 1790s

1792-93: Long white dress and colored ribbons with straw hat : English girl

The 19th Century

Girls in the 19th century mostly wore dresses, sometimes with pinafores and smocks. You never see girls wearing boyish garments. The styles of the dresses varied quite a bit in the 19th century. Dresses in the early 19th century were very plain, clasical styles. White dresses with high bodices that fell straight down to the ankles were very common. Mothers and girls wore similar styles. By the 1920s we see greater use of color, but this began t be muted by the 1940s in line with Victorian modesty. Gradually hem lines rose, although for many years girls would wear pantalettes to cover their legs. Our knowledge of early 19th century styles are quite limited, but with the invention of photography we know much more about styles in the second half of the century. By the 1860s, large numbers of images become available. We see dressed that billowed out, supported ny hoop skirts as well as little additions behind the waist. After mid-century dress styles began to be increasingly fancy and could be quite elabotate by the end of the dentury. Both boys and girls sore dresses in the 19th century, although by the lsate 19th century boy dresses were plainer than girl dresses and after about 1895 the practice of dressing younger boys in dresses began to rapidly decline.

The 20th Century

George Eastman introduced the Kodak Brownie in 1900. This revolutionalized photography. The average person could now take photographs anywhere he wanted, around home or on vacation. This moved photograpy out of the studio. Thus in the 20th cenyury we not only have studio portraits, but increasing numbers of amatuer family snapshots showing children in more more animated poses and natural settings. Girls wore white dresses as well as colored ones. Many girls wore pinnies. Hairbows were very popular and sometimes quite large. For the most part girls still only wore dresses. The 1910s were dominated by World War I. The early 1910s are similar to the 1900s, but the austerity of the War years is followed by major fashion changes. There are large numbers of images of girls outfits, almost all dressess, archieved on HBC, both in America and Europe. White dresses were popular as were sailor outfits. Often girls wore their dresses with pinafores. Major fashion changes followed World War I. The flapper dress is the most definitive fashion statement of the 190s, but this was for older girls and young women. Girls still wore dresses are comparable skirted garments almost exclusively. Hems rose. There was also a tendency to seek a boyish look. The old pre-World War styles had by the 1930s largely disappeared. Girls still mostly wore dresses. Pinafores are still worn, but less commonly. Middy blouses are a popular style. For casual wear we begin to see girls in pants or shorts--especially in America. The 1940s were dominated by World War II (1939-45). Like World War I, World War II had a major impact on fashion. Girls still mostly wore dresses, but for play clothes shorts became popular. The fact that many mothers and teenagers worked in war plants undoubtedly had a significant impact on fashion. The 1950s were a mixed decade with girls wearing many older fashions, but a variety of new styles appearing. Girls still wear dresses to school and when dressing up. Major changes occurred in the 1960s. Dresses began the decade at knee length, but by the end of the decade were much shorter. The traditional dresses still common in the early 1960s began to give way to jeans and other casual styles by the end of the decade. American girls began to commonly wear jeans and shorts to school. Mini-skirts were also popular. Designer jeans came into style. Along with designer jeans the Hippy influence made tattered looking jeans popular as well. Many American girls by the 1980s no longer wanted to wear dresses. Some American parents report a struggle trying to get their daughters to wear desses, even for special occasions. This attitude was not maintained by all girls.

The 21st Century

The 2000s

About 2000: School uniform: North Korean children

2002: Christmas outfits: Italian children

2002: School uniform: Ukranian girls

2003: White graduation dress: Tajik school children

2004: School uniform: Tajik school uniform

2005: Traditional clothing: Kuwati children

2005: Traditional school uniforms: Japanese students

2005: First Communion dresses Spanish girls 21st century

2006: Pink pants: Italian girl

2008: School uniforms: Russian boys and girls

The 2010s

Difficult Images

We note some images which we have found difficult to date with any precession. Many of these images are paintings by unknown artists. Any insights HBC readers can offer would be most apprecaited to help date these images. We also have a section with difficult boys' images to date, but these are difficult girls' images.


We hope that readers will provide us additional images of girls clothing from their family scapbooks and other sources so we can expand our coverage. We would also appreciate any insights as to girls fashions and styles during the various decades covered here, including modern styles.


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Created: November 26, 2001
Last updated: 1:36 AM 8/25/2020