Historical Girls' Clothing: Countries

Figure 1.--Here we see a variety of American dresses. This portrait shows girls (and for some reason possibly even a boy) posing as fashionable folks with raised skirts. The six children wear Springtime hats and dresses. The portrit was taken at the Greenlund studio in Warren, Pennsylvania. It is undated, but the mat style and the informamity suggest the very early 1900s to us rather than the 1890s.

We do not know much about girls clothing in individual countries. Until the 1960s this primarily mean dresses. We do not know dress styles varied chronologically or by country. We keep hoping a reader will assist us with this enterprise. In the interim we will begin to collect images and information from various countries. There are quite a number of images archived in the HBC site that can be useful here. We will eventually index the outfits being collected in the chronology section by countries. We will wait, however, until we have a more extensive number of entries in the chronological section. Here there are both HBC pages with discusss girls and children's clothing.

America, Latin


We note Argentine girls wearing European fashions. We notice two Argentine girls wearging fashionable dresses in 1932.


We have very little informtion on Uruguay. We suspect thht girls fashions were very similar to those of Argentina with a common Spanish foundation and similar levels of European migration in the late-19th and early-20th century. We bote an unidentified Uruguayan girl wearing a smocked fress and striped long stockings in 1877.

America, North


American girls like girls in other countries wore dresses throughout the 19th and much of the 20th century. We do not kow a great deal about dresses at this time. We believe dress styles were largely set in Europe throughout the 19h century. We want to develop information on fashion trends over time. We also want to see how girls' dress styles compared to adult women's styles. This will be very useful in improving our ability to date old photographs, mny of which are not dated. Not only did girls wear dresses in the 19th century, but so did younger boys. Girls continued to wear dresses in the 20th century. Only after World War II do we commonly see girls wearing other garments. Here American girls led the way for a trend that would be followed in ther countries. Grdually in the 20th century it became popular for girls to wear boys' styles like shirts and jeans. In sharp contrast to the 19th century, boys' did not wear girls' styles.



In the world of fashion, surely the most fascinating womens clothes come from Asia. And of course for a Westerner, they are the most exotic costumes we note. Of course Asia is a huge, diverse continent with many styles. Unlike Europe, there is not the same detiled artistic tradition of painted depictions. So we know less about historic eras. And the photographic record is not nearly as extensive as itis for the west. Many of these styles have disappeared. some are rather like folk costuming in the west, worn only for special occassions. In other countries they are still everyday dress. We do not note special styles for children. Girls wore small editions of their mothers' outfits. Today girls in many countries are more likely to wear Western styles, especially for school. Some of the most important styles come from China, India, Japan, and Korea. Thereare also many fascinating styles in Southeast Asia. Of course in large countries like China and India there are many regional differences. Nin additionn to the bright colors and beautiful stylesin much of Asia wealso notice drab cover everything approached in many Muslim countries. At this time we have just begun our assessment nd would inteested in reader input.


The fashion history of Europe is a well-covered topic, at least women's fashions. And forcenturiesgirlswore small sized dressedstyledkliketheir mother's garments. The basic woman's garment is the dress. It evolved from the robes that both men and women wore in the medieval era. There is a huge body of evidence including vintage clothing, art, fashion magazines, and photographs. Even before the invention of photography, there are large numbers of art work showcasing women's fashions. Most of this evidence relates to adult women. we have less information about girls. We are slowly adding country pages to our HGC fashion site. Here we are looking forwaed to reader contributions to build our country section. At this time much of our information comes from England, France, Germany, and the United States, but we hope to expand these country pages as our HGC site grows. There used to be vast differences between popular fashions from country to country, although elites tended to follow the same fashion trends. As popular fashions became more standardized, a few countries emerged as fashion setters, espoecially England, France, and Germany. France was especially important as during the medieval era it was such a rich country. And in more recent years it continued to dominate female fashions. The United States became important after World War II. As far as we can tell, girls's styles were less country specific than boy' styles, but this is just our initial assessmen.

Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa include two of the river valley cradles of civilization (Mesopotamia and Egypt). Civilization meant that the socities were generating wealth and far more attention was given to clothing and fashion than hunter-gatherer societies. Persia and Turkish tribes later emerged as another force and genrator of fashion. Much of the arrea was dominated by first Greece abd then Rome/Byzantium which also exerted fashion influences. Other fashion influences were exerted by Arabs and Bedouin tribes. The entire area would be dominated by Islam as a result of the Arab outburst from the Arabian Peninsula and military conquests. And Islam had very definite attitudes toward fashion. Fashionnin the area developed as almagum of Islamic teachings blended with Arab and local trends, including bedouin fashions. Turkish fashions became important as the Ottoman began to conquer the Arab lands (16th century). These early fashion trends sre important because they carried over to modern times which was ot the case in the West. Western fashions began to have some influence, especially after Europeans began to colonize the area (1830s). Western fashions became very imortant in urban areas (early- and mid-20th centutry). Peole in rural areas continued to wear traditional garments. This continued into the de-colonization era after World War II. This began to change with the failure of Arab socialism (1970s) and many in the region began to turn to fundamentalist Islamic movements which was reflected in fashion and dress conventiins, in some cases enforced by Islamic clerics and the fashiion police.



Australia was founded as a Btitish colony in the late-18th century. Girls fashions were essentilly the same as fashions in Britain. The only important difference we can detect is that it was more common for children to go barefoot in Australia. We see the same styles and fashion chnges over time. Australian children spent more time outdoors which affects the clothing chosen, but the stupes and basic garments were the same. Girls only wore dresses and skirts throughout the 19th century. In the 20th century, especilly after World War I we begin to see rompers and shirts, but dresses continued to be the standard garment. World War II was a turning point for Australia. Contacts widen with other countries especilly the United states. We see american styles becoming popular, especially active wear. Dresses comntinue to be stndard wear. Girls only wore drsses to school. By the 1960s we begin to see girls commonly wearing garments other thn dresses. As many Australian schools have British-style uniforms, dresses and skirts coninued to be standrd at school.


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Created: 12:18 AM 3/17/2007
Last updated: 7:12 PM 1/11/2019